Pentecost, an historiated initial on a vellum leaf from an Antiphonal, in Latin.[Italy (Emilia-Romagna, perhaps Bologna), c. 1260-70]



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A large initial 'D' formed of light pink and orange acanthus extending into the margin and including a human head, on a blue ground with white penwork decoration, framed in light pink, enclosing the Pentecost with the twelve Apostles seated under two arches supported by a central column, large initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork.

Size of leaf: 490mm x 340mm. 10 lines of text with accompanying music on 4-line red staves; rubrics in red, capitals stroked in red.


The illumination here shows the twelve apostles seated in an architectural setting, with faces painted in dark green and using strokes of white paint for modelling. The style is notably close to that of the Maestro d'Imola (see F. Lollini in Dizionario biografico dei miniatori italiani, 2004, p. 685) who was named after a group of choirbooks decorated for San Domenico in Imola (see Cor unum et anima una. Corali miniati della Chiesa di Imola, 1994).

He was active in and around Bologna, a leading centre of manuscript production in the thirteenth and fourteenth century, and can be recognised by his peculiar modelling technique in lead-white as well as the colours with predominance of dark blue, bright orange, light pink and green. His painting technique is clearly influenced by Byzantine art. Thin white brushstrokes detail facial features such as eyebrows, noses, lips and chins, and thin elongated brushstrokes have also been used to indicate fingers and toes.  

The leaf has been separated from its parent manuscript for many centuries and was once used as a binding in the early seventeenth century with inscriptions on the leaf for the years '1600' and '1604', so possibly for an account book. Its use as a binding has produced remarkably little wear to the initial although the colours have faded slightly, but there is some staining and cockling in places, a few small holes and the remains of paper at edges and on verso.

The initial 'D' opens "Dum complerentur dies pentecostes ..." the second response of the first nocturne for Pentecost.

Stock Code: 246149

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