21 November 2012
THE TREE OF JESSE, large historiated initial 'N' on a leaf from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ANTIPHONAL ON VELLUM
[Spain, Toledo?, end of 15th century]
762 x 580mm (leaf); 252 x 250mm (initial). Borders on three sides inhabited with hunting and harvesting scenes; five lines of music and text, rubrics and headings in red, verso with one initial in brown ink (some wear). Double-sided frame.
Contemporary folio number 'CXI'. The initial opens the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 'Nativitas gloriose virginis Marie...'.
The style of the artist responsible for the decoration of the present leaf is reminiscent, in a more modest manner, in terms of quality of workmanship and wealth of ornamentation, of the great choirbooks commissioned in Toledo for Cardinal Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza (1428-95), the fourth son of Iñigo López de Mendoza, marqués de Santillana (d.1458). The borders, packed with foliage and flowers and figures hunting and harvesting, charming for their attention to detail (whether it be the archer crouching amid the foliage, or the two men shinning up a tree, one with only a leg and an arm visible), have that same busy profusion of narrative action and are characteristic of Spanish manuscript production of this period.
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