6012. Leaf from a illuminated antiphoner c. 1430s

Large leaf from a finely illuminated manuscript antiphoner, in Latin on vellum. Italy (probably Venice), c. 1430s.

Single column, 7 lines of text with music on a 4-line red stave, simple initials in red or blue with fine contrasting penwork, large initial 'M' in red with delicate white penwork and white scrolling acanthus leaves at its edges and tips, the compartments of the initial enclosing sprays of coloured acanthus leaf foliage with brightly burnished gold fruit on blue grounds, and with similar sprays with large gold bezants with single penwork tails or clusters of stamen-like white penstrokes filling the entire inner border, the initial on large and brightly burnished gold grounds, skilled pouncing to all goldwork of small circles, clusters of circles and lines of dots forming frames, reverse (originally recto) with contemporary folio number in upper margin: "cxxxxv". Leaf: 523x375 mm, initial: 120x120 mm, and rastrum: 28 mm. Some small spots and a few contemporary repairs to vellum in outer margin, a few stitch holes along inner margin, erased pencil marks on corner of reverse with price in £s, shillings and pence, else outstanding and fresh condition.

The tightly curled acanthus leaves here with their florid and fluttering white overlaid strokes and finely pounched goldwork strongly suggests that this is a leaf from a dispersed choirbook illuminated by the prolific Venetian artist Cristoforo Cortese in the later period of his work (compare the initials in P. Palladino, Treasures of a Lost Art, 2003, no. 39 and 40, and the initial from a Gradual in Late Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in the Houghton Library, 1983, no. 32, notably the coloured banding around the ascender of the initial). The brushwork here as well as the pouncing is near-identical to that on a cut initial from a choirbook attributed to Cortese, and recently sold by Koller, 18 September 2015, lot 155, for CHF 22,100, and that may well be from the same parent manuscript as the present leaf.

We would like to thank Dr. Timothy Bolton for his cataloguing of the present lot.