Original leaf from a manuscript Choir Book. The sixteen lines of ruled chant is written with black ink on animal parchment. (585 x 420mm – 23 x 16 1/2'') Large initials alternating in red and blue.
Lombardy (Milan?), c. 1470
One exceptional illuminated initial contains a miniature painting of Zachary &John the Baptist. An elderly Zachary is shown leading his young son along a path, with the River Jordan visible in the background. Both wear halos, and John the Baptist carries a golden cross over his shoulder. Surrounding the painting is the highly decorative letter ''B'' – with four infant boys on the left, and the letter closing in the center with two bird heads meeting. The initial and painting rest on a ground of burnished gold.
The chant opens with the Canticle of Zachary - Luke 1:68-74: ''Benedictus…'' (Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people: & hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant…).