KING DAVID PLAYING THE PSALTERY, historiated initial 'E' on a leaf from a Choir Psalter, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Lombardy, c.1460]530 x 385mm. The initial opening Psalm 80 ('Exultate deo adiutori nostro'); 14 lines written in black ink, the top line incorporating a 4-line stave in red, verso with 15 lines, alternate initials in blue with red penwork and in red with purple penwork, contemporary foliation in the outer margin ('f.129'), adhered to mount by two hinges at top edge (slight rubbing of pigment to green extension of initial, two neat marginal repairs, a few marginal adhesive stains on verso).
An imposing and colourful initial, a fine example of the early style of Jacopo da Balsemo (c.1425-1503), who with his workshop dominated manuscript illumination in Bergamo in the later half of the Quattrocento. Referred to in records as 'maestro miniatore' from 1453, Jacopo's documented works comprised a large number of liturgical and civic commissions in Bergamo which included the series of choirbooks illuminated for the Opera della Misericordia Maggiore of Santa Maria Maggiore (now Mîa, Corali A-D and Ant. I-XII of the Biblioteca Civica, Bergamo). The style and decorative vocabulary of the present leaf, once part of what must have been a rich and impressive large-format Psalter, relate it closely to the earliest of the Sta Maria Maggiore choirbooks, illuminated between 1449 and 1468 (see Tesori miniati, exhibition catalogue, Bergamo/Brescia: 1995, cats. 39-41, in particular Ant. VIII, f.67v, p.134) and to a Gradual from the same series identified in Sam Fogg catalogue 12, no. 20.