The Annunciation to the Virgin, in an initial on a leaf from a Gradual, manuscript on parchment [Southern Netherlands (perhaps Guelders), dated 1544]



With a large initial A, in intricate, gold-edged acanthus leaves on a dark brown ground, enclosing a scene of the Virgin kneeling in prayer, while the angel appears to her and the Holy Spirit descends, striking Ghent-Bruges style trompe l’oeil border, with vibrant yellow grounds against which beautifully executed flowers, insects and a pigeon stand, three coats-of-arms in the lower border (from left, those of the Vauderic and Reautmont families, the third unidentified), initials in red, blue, or finely inked in black with complex and playful penwork face and foliage, red rubrics. Manuscript on parchment, single leaf (42.5 x 30.4 cm), 11 lines of text with music on a four-line stave (rastrum: 13cm), original foliation ‘L’ inked at head of leaf, and dated by scribe 1544 above initial.


The striking initial “a” opens the introit for the first Sunday in advent (“ad te levavi animam…”) and depicts the annunciation to the virgin by a golden-robed angel. Mary’s surprise is evident in her raised hand, and his pose and gesture wonderfully indicate that the angel is mid-explanation. above the initial, the scribe has dated his work and requested, in Dutch, prayers for himself – “finitus anno domini M vc xliiii Bidt voer de scriver”, (“finished 1541, pray for the scribe”). This leaf was likely part of a manuscript commissioned by the person whose three family lines are depicted in the arms at the bas-de-page, to be used by a religious institution. The presence of a kneeling Cistercian monk in another leaf from the same parent manuscript indicates the order of the recipient monastic house. Minor discolouration at edges, otherwise excellent condition.

Stock Code: 233099

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