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ANTIPHONAL, for Franciscan use, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.
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ANTIPHONAL, for Franciscan use, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.

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ANTIPHONAL, for Franciscan use, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM.

[?Poland, 17th century]
512 x 390mm. 26 leaves: 1-54, 66, COMPLETE, seven lines of text below seven lines of music of square notation on a four-line stave of red, rubrics in red, five large initials of red or blue with decoration of the other colour, 14 large initials of green and red, THIRTY-SIX LARGE ILLUMINATED INTIALS, six of these with grounds of shining gold and sprays with golden disks (a few inconsequential spots and stains). Seventeenth-century vellum (lacking two fore-edge ties).

Notwithstanding its size, and the uniformity of format and layout, this choirbook was produced in three distinct sections, each the work of a different scribe and decorated in a distinct style. The central and most extensive section contains antiphons for feasts of the Virgin, Corpus Cristi, Palm Sunday and the Trinity. It is the most exuberantly illuminated and has flamboyant and colourful illuminated initials. It is preceded by a gathering with the antiphons for the feasts of St Antony of Padua and a Guardian Angel. This has more conventional flourished initials. The manuscript was given a more thoroughgoing Franciscan tenor with the continuation on the final gathering of feasts of the Translation of St Francis, St Clare and St Francis. On its completion it was surely intended for use in a Franciscan convent.

The unconventional and highly decorative illumination of the central section has the fantasy and verve of eastern European folk art. Combined with the round gothic bookhand it suggests a possible origin for the manuscript in Poland.
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