Original leaf from an unusually large manuscript Antiphonal. (Leaf size: 735 x 520 mm – 29 x 20 3/8’’) Five lines of text and music on four-line staves, written in dark brown ink. Rubrics and headings are in red. The leaf is in good antiquarian condition, with some evidence of use and cockling to the parchment. The illuminated initial is in remakably fine condition with no wear to the gold or colors.
Italy, c. 1450-90.
One exceptional illuminated initial "E" (90 x 90mm – 3 ½ x 3 ½’’) painted in tempera colors of green, orange, pink, blue, red with delicate white penwork on a burnished gold ground.
This leaf continues the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28th). Recto continues Psalm 123 (King James 124) 7-8: “Contritus…” (The snare has been broken and we have been freed. Our help is in the name of the Lord). The elaborate illuminated initial begins: “Effugerunt…” (They have spilt the blood of the saints like water throughout [Jerusalem]).
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Accessioned 1924, with accession # 24.324 on lower margin, recto, and deaccessioned in 2013.
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.
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.