Antiphonal leaf, decorated MS on parchment [eastern France (perhaps Besançon),



Available to view at our Curzon Street shop.

Single leaf (c.283 x 216mm). Decorated manuscript on parchment. Double column of 13 lines in a cramped gothic bookhand, with music on a four-line stave, red rubrics, elaborate capitals in sweeping penwork strokes, touched with yellow wash and red highlights, several with intricately inked faces, two in blue with elaborate red penwork and whip-like extensions far into margins, large initial at head, crowned, with a young man dressed in blue and red clothes holding up a garland of flowers, held on the other side by a hand extending from the (now erased) female? figure at the other side of the initial, a partly erased banderole held in the man's other hand. 

An attractive leaf from a French antiphonal, with charming and whimsical additional illustration. The initial at the head of the recto depicting a young man in blue and red, holding a banderole and giving a floral garland to a now erased, presumably female figure that would have stood to the left of the initial, accompanies the Feast of Catherine of Alexandria on the 25th of November (see 'virgo Sta. Katherina' referrred to in the second line of text of the second column). The erasure of the left-hand figure appears to have been deliberate, as does that of the banderole; remnant letters, 'ma...' might indicate mariage (other extant leaves from the same antiphonal depict banderoles with text in French), though St Catherine, in France especially, is more commonly associated with unmarried women, than matrimony itself.

Several human faces peer out of the remainder of the document, skilfully squeezed by scribes into the space left in and around capital letters. All seemingly male - one with an especially notable beard - they seem to stare, frown and in one case sing, perhaps a nod to the musical notation that surrounds them. 

Some scuffs, thumb marks at lower outer corner, minor discolouration otherwise very good condition. 

Provenance: From the collection of Roger Martin (1939-2020); sale, Bloomsbury Auctions, The Roger Martin Collection of Manuscripts and Miniatures, 6 July, 2021. 

Stock Code: 243909

close zoom-in zoom-out close zoom