PENTECOST, on a leaf from a Gradual, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?southern Italy, 13th century]
435 x 325mm (leaf), 115 x 105mm (initial), the upper curve of the letter depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, with tongues of orange fire, the lower curve depicting six of the disciples in conversation, medieval foliation '[C?]CXLII' in alternate blue and red characters in the upper outer margin of the verso, modern pencil foliation '230' on the recto, 6 lines of text written in dark brown ink in a round gothic bookhand, between four verticals and 35 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 325 x 235mm, with music on four-line staves, the second line highlighted in yellow and the fourth in red, rubrics in two shades of red, one-line initial in blue with red penwork decoration (some smudging and pigment loss, part of the lower edge of the leaf torn away, a few small areas of ink corrosion).
The initial illustrates the introit for Pentecost, 'Spiritus domini replevit orbem terrarum' (The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world; Wisdom 1:7)
The six disciples are shown as though they have been modelled on an antique relief. The strong modelling of flesh tones and the careful attention to the folds of pink and green drapery contrast markedly with the flat areas of strong colour that make up the background and canopy of the heavens. The classicising intent and the romanesque quality of the drapery style suggest that the initial was painted in the first half of the thirteenth century. While no precise stylistic analogy should be drawn, the same characteristics have been recognised in southern Italian illumination: A. Daneu Lattanzi, Lineamenti di storia della miniatura in Sicilia, 1966, figs 51-54 and pp.58-61.