Original leaf from a manuscript Antiphonal on animal parchment. (565 x 380mm – 22 ¼ x 15)
The manuscript text and music (five lines of music on a four-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 575 years ago in the 15th century!!! .
Northwest Spain (perhaps Leon) or Southwestern France, c. 1400-1450.
One exceptional illuminated initial in red and blue with an elaborate internal geometric "puzzle design" (in the Moorish influenced Mudejar style) in intricate red and blue penwork and extending beyond the initial into the margin.
“A pen with a long slit - half or three-quarters of an inch - was used for drawing these flourishes” (Reference: Mudejar Ornament in Manuscripts, by Frances Spalding, p. 4, Hispanic Society of America, 1953,). Aside from the pen a sizable amount of talent was also required to produce this amazing fluid puzzle design!
The text is taken from St Gregory the Great’s Dialogues: “Fuit vir vite venerabilis…” (There once was a man of saintly life; Blessed Benedict was his name and he was blessed by God's grace…).
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 Divine Office: first vespers or the vigil of great feasts, matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers & compline.