CONSECRATION OF SAINT AMBROSE AS BISHOP, historiated initial T, from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT CHOIRBOOK ON VELLUM
[Tuscany, perhaps Lucca, late 13th century]
405 x 320mm (leaf), 233 x 140mm (initial overall). In front of, and beneath, the arching cross-stroke of the pink and red initial a seated saint, probably intended to be Ambrose, the reputed composer of the hymn, has the mitre placed on his head by two other bishops, to the left a group of three tonsured figures singing, to the right a fourth ringing two bells; the infill rimmed with green, and all against a ground of blue with pink and red foliate terminals; seven lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between music of square notation on a four-line stave of red; rubrics in red; twelve one-line initials alternately of blue and red with flourishing of the other colour (very slight cockling in outer margin, small losses from the burnished gold of the saint's halo).
This initial opens the Te Deum from the Office of the Virgin in Eastertide from an Antiphonal. Other initials by the same hand and, perhaps, from the same Antiphonal are in Munich: U. Bauer-Eberhardt, Die italienische Miniaturen des 13.-16. Jahrhunderts, 1984, p.85-6, figs 115-17. A further initial was sold in these rooms 20 June 1990, lot 4. They may be from the same series of choirbooks as the winter Antiphonal in Oxford that is the work of the same artist (Bodleian, Lat. Liturg. a. 5: Pächt and Alexander, II, no 149). On the basis of stylistic similarities with an Antiphonal in Lucca (Biblioteca Statale, Ms 2654) Bauer-Eberhardt suggested an origin in that city.