Beautifully illuminated Gregorian Chant - c 1460-90


Original Gregorian chant leaf from a 15th century medieval choirbook. This musical sheet was executed by hand in manuscript calligraphy on animal parchment. (610 x 430mm – 23 ½ x 16 ¾’’)

The music and text (six lines written in rounded gothic script) are written in black ink, on a five-line-stave, with headings and rubrics in red.   Spain: Seville, c. 1460-90.

This striking leaf is related to a series of choirbooks attributed to the Master of the Cypresses (now identified as Nicolás Gómez – active 1460-90),.who illuminated twenty Choirbooks that are preserved in the Cathedral of Seville.

The richly illuminated “S” (recto) extends the length of the five line stave & is in burnished gold on a blue and burgundy ground with delicate white penwork and orange and green flowers.  It extends into the margin with vines of burnished gold bezants

The flamboyant illuminated “L” (verso) extends the length of the five-line stave in blue with white penwork decorated with a floral motif in burgundy, orange, blue, green and white on a highly burnished gold ground.  The initial extends into the margin with an elegant rinceaux-style border of acanthus leaves and flowers in the same rich colors adorned with gold bezants!

The illuminated “L” opens the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary: “Lumen …” (A light to the revelation…).

The illuminated “S” (recto) concludes the Feast of St. Agnes with Matthew 13:45-46: “Simile…” (The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking good pearls. Who when he had found 1 pearl of great price went his way, & sold all that he had, & bought it…)

As is usual with Medieval and Renaissance parchment, the hair side of the leaf is darker than the flesh side, but may take ink somewhat better.  The differences in tone caused scribes to arrange their quires so that the hair side of one sheet faced the hair side of the next, and the flesh side faced the flesh side.

Exceptionally beautiful calligraphy and illumination in a superior state of preservation.

Shipped unmatted

  • Inventory Number: IM-12728