c. 1600 Gregorian Chant - Initial w/flowers and owl - Spain


Original leaf from a Spanish Antiphonal on animal parchment. The manuscript text and music (four lines of dark brown music on a red five-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 400 years ago!!!  Unusual massive size:   (760 x 540mm – 30 x 21 ¼inches’’) 

Spain, c. 1600.

One flamboyant illuminated initial "C" (280 x 250mm – 11 1/8 x 9 7/8 inches’) in blue and yellow with two faces, surrounding an internal floral design in red, yellow, green, blue -  with a wonderful brown owl (an attribute of Christ) perched in the center.  The initial is surrounded by a frame of red and yellow.

This leaf contains music for Maudy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter).  The elaborate illuminated “C” begins Philippians 2:8: “Christus factus est…” (Christ became obedient for us unto death, Even to the death, death on the cross).  

The owl is an attribute of Christ, who sacrificed Himself to save mankind “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79).  The owl is often present in scenes of the Crucifixion.

Antiphonals contain chants for the canonical hours of the Divine Office: first vespers or the vigil of great feasts, matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline.

This leaf is at the upper limits in size for a manuscript lleaf on parchment. Only one leaf of this size could be obtained from a single animal skin. In very good condition for its size and devotional use, though there is noticeable rippling to the parchment.

Shipped unmatted


  • Inventory Number: IM-12639
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