"[Antiphonal Leaf]", Anon.
Period: 1550 (circa)
17 x 23.7 inches
43.2 x 60.2 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.
Superb large vellum leaf from an Italian Antiphoner containing five staves of four-line music. The notation is written in bold black ink on red staves and each side is decorated with large initials. The geometric style is reminiscent of Italian ceramic tiles.