(Italy, perhaps Tuscany, 15th century, but with a 20th century[?] miniature). 591 x 406 mm. (23 1/4 x 16"). Five lines of text beneath five four-line staves of music, the text in a very large, clean gothic book hand.

Rubrics in red, three large initials painted in red or blue with elaborate penwork in the contrasting color, the verso WITH A FINE MODERN REPLICA INHABITED INITIAL showing a young, strong, dark-skinned figure who appears to be Christ, considerable leafy foliage emanating from the letter up and down the left margin (the initial measuring approximately 95 x 110 mm.). Lower outer corner ragged, the hair side of the leaf with minor overall darkening, slight soiling, and faint wrinkling, but a leaf with no serious problems and generally pleasing, especially because the initial is in perfect condition.

This is an authentic Medieval choirbook leaf from the 15th century, with text and music written out by Medieval scribes, but with an inhabited initial that was almost certainly added by a much later hand. Apparently, the painting was added in order to make the leaf more saleable (and it does, in fact, add interest to a leaf that otherwise might not attract a great deal of attention), though it is not easy to say exactly when or why the alteration was made--perhaps in the late 19th century, or perhaps even more recently. The artist involved did a remarkably good job of replicating the design of a 13th century Italian initial--the colors are just about right, and the white tracery is convincing--but the haloed figure inside looks a good deal more Pre-Raphaelite than Medieval. Issues of authenticity aside, we observe that the initial is adroitly executed and the paint carefully applied. We also sense a power and dynamism in the work; in such details as the thickness of the figure's neck and the profundity of his gaze, we feel the artist's visual message--that this is a strong, devoted, and determined Christ--communicated with powerful emotional impact.

Keywords: Antiphonary