Catalog Archive

Auction 101, Lot 559

"[Antiphonal Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Music

Period: 1580 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

18.2 x 26.3 inches
46.2 x 66.8 cm

The origins of liturgical music traditionally date back to St. Gregory the Great (d. 604), who was inspired by the Holy Dove to record the principles of 'Gregorian' chant. The Gradual contained the musical parts of the Missal and was sung from the steps (gradus) of the altar. The Antiphoner contained the musical sections of the Breviary. These terms have become interchangeable in modern times. Because of their size and complexity, these manuscripts were still being handmade in the traditional way for centuries after the introduction of printing. They were boldly hand-written and illuminated on large sheets of sturdy vellum so that the entire choir could read from one book.

Huge sheet of heavy vellum from a Spanish manuscript with only the verso containing five staves of five-line music. The sheet begins with a large historiated initial "E" and the borders are completely surrounded with decorations including birds and flowers. Recto was originally blank. Sometimes the text or melody of a hymn was changed and the monks or priests made the changes in the antiphony themselves. This leaf has been so modified by the addition of pieces of paper glued onto the recto.


Condition: C

Some staining and several old repairs including one tear that has been stitched closed with binding twine and another small hole that has been patched with paper. Even with faults a visually striking and unusual piece.

Estimate: $550 - $650

Sold for: $475

Closed on 12/4/2002