c 1590 Gregorian Chant - Elaborate Illuminated Initial


Original leaf from a manuscript Spanish Antiphonal on animal parchment. (565 x 380mm – 22.25 x 15’’).  

The initial, manuscript text and music (five lines of dark brown music on a red five-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 400 years ago!!! 

Spain (Navarre), c. 1590

One large unusual illuminated initial “S” (170mm square – 6.75’’ square) in  deep blue wrapped with red and green and secured with a yellow stand set in a landscape setting on a grass path surrounded by trees and mountains – all set within a red frame. 

The text continues services for the Fifth Week of Lent: “[lacri]matus est coram…” (cried out Lazarus come forth, and he came forth bound hands and feet…). The large illuminated “S” starts the service for Saturday.

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.

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.

Shipped unmatted


  • Inventory# IM-12830