13 July 2016
MONKS SINGING AT A LECTERN, historiated initial 'C' on a leaf from an illuminated Ferial Psalter [Lombardy, perhaps Milan, mid-15th century]
A charming depiction of Franciscan monks in the act of chanting to illustrate the psalm opening 'O sing unto the Lord a new song' ('Cantate domino canticum novum', Psalm 98).
The leaf comes from a Ferial Psalter, a manuscript presenting the psalms with their accompanying, unchanging texts for the Divine Office throughout the day; the brown habits and scapulae of the monks depicted suggest the parent manuscript was commissioned for a Franciscan monastery. The illumination points to Milan: the spray of three-pronged devices and trefoil leaves that extends into the margin on one side only offers a simplified version of better-known Lombard productions (the three-pronged devices appear in a work by the Master of the Budapest Antiphoner, for example, in the Fitzwilliam Museums's Marlay cutting It. 17). In the miniature itself, the strong use of red and the finely modelled profiles of the monks, here with bulbously-tipped noses, are characteristic of Milanese illumination in the middle of the fifteenth century.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
435 x 280mm, the initial 96 x 96mm (the gold of the ground and the trefoils rubbed, some loss to the surface of the pigments). Framed.
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