29 November 2000
ILLUMINATED INITIAL E on a leaf from a choirbook, MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Toledo or Seville, late 15th century]
610 x 410mm (with edges folded under), 654 x 455mm (overall). Initial staves of frondy pink acanthus against a ground of blue with white penwork decoration framed with burnished gold, the infill with a scarlet poppy-like flower and a pink rose, each with a burnished gold centre and placed against grounds of brown with pointilliste liquid gold decoration, a full-page border with a baguette of stepped fillets of gold, pink and blue surrounded by scrolling acanthus leaves of blue, grey, pink, red and green interspersed with gold disks or blue flowerheads, a bird perched on gold disks in each of the lower corners, five lines of text written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between five lines of music of square notation on a five-line red stave, on the recto, five lines of music and text, rubric in red, large red initial with penwork flourishing in mudéjar style (some flaking of pink pigment).
This initial, opening Egredemini et videte, must have come from a choirbook of such large format that it would inevitably have required numerous volumes to accommodate all the sung elements of the Mass for the feasts of the liturgical year.
The mudéjar-influenced penwork decoration and the borders made up of lush, rolling acanthus around interlocking fillet frames are all features to be found in manuscripts illuminated in Toledo or Seville towards the end of the 15th century. Close comparisons can be made between the present leaf and the Cantoral with the arms of Archbishop Carrillo y Mendoza (1446-1495), now in Toledo Cathedral, or the series of choirbooks in the Badajos Cathedral Archives: F. Spalding, Mudejar Ornament in Manuscripts (1953), figs 20 and 21.
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