Lot 7
  • 7

King David within a historiated initial from an illuminated choirbook, on vellum [Italy (probably Monte Oliveto), c.1472-73]

3,000 - 5,000 GBP
3,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Vellum
a cutting, 109mm. by 140mm., a large initial 'D' (probably opening a Psalm "Dominus ...") in pink with white penwork and flourishes of coloured acanthus-leaves, all on a brightly burnished gold ground, enclosing a finely detailed half-length portrait of David kneeling between two hills as God appears above him, David with cascades of grey hair and in richly decorated robes with his name picked out in liquid gold ornamental capitals on his sleeve, slight smudge to background and some crackling and minor scuffing to gold, else excellent and fresh condition, laid down on nineteenth-century card, framed



1. Most probably from a service book illuminated for the Olivetans of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, near Siena, by Venturini Mercati (recorded in Chiusi and Siena 1466-76 and Monte Oliveto in 1472-73). An inscription in the Maddan-Shaw album in which this initial was once mounted recorded that the initials were "cut out of altar books (particularly that of Como) during the French invasion of Italy". Others appeared in the collection of Lord Holford (sold in our rooms, 12 July 1927, lots 13, 14 and probably also 24), and another was sold in our rooms, 14 June 1926, lot 137.

2. Probably Abate Luigi Celotti (c.1768-1846); his sale, Christie's, 26 May 1825.

3. John Lomax (1801-1849), of Clayton Hall, Lancashire who owned or compiled an extra-illuminated copy of Maddan & Shaw, Illuminated Ornaments selected from Manuscripts of the Middle Ages, 1838, in which the present initial was no.5 on fol.9: his signature dated 1842 once in the album.

4. W.O. Wade: his bookplate once also in the album.

5. C. W. Dyson Perrins (1864-1958); his sale in our rooms, 29 November 1960, lot 151 (with the present initial illustrated as pl.62a), to Alan Thomas, who dispersed the initials with Charles Ede, in Thomas cat.8 (1961), nos.6-16, and Folio Society Collector's Corner, cat.3 (1961), nos.97-102.

6. Acquired by the present owner from Folio.