Lot 51
  • 51

Illuminated initial with Biting Dragons on a leaf from a Gradual, in Latin [southern Germany, probably Franconia, c.1300]

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
5,250 GBP
bidding is closed


  • manuscript on vellum
single leaf, 502x322mm, vellum, large initial 'H' (109x95mm) with marginal extension for the response for Mass on the first night of Christmas 'Hodie nobis celorum rex ...', ten lines of text and music on four-line red staves, 338x227mm, rastrum 19mm, flourished and inked initials, one including a human head on recto, musical annotations in the margins, stained toward the edges, small losses to the gold leaf, overall in fine condition 

Catalogue Note

This imposing leaf is carefully illuminated in soft colours against highly burnished gold leaf, suggesting that it was made in a centre of some significant importance and sophistication. The palmette-shaped leaves and the illusionistic frame which encloses the initial are characteristic of the south of Germany, notably Franconia. In the right margin is a signe-de-renvoie in the shape of a cross within a square, in red ink; this refers the reader to the same symbol in the lower margin where there are near-contemporary added liturgical instructions: these specify that there should be three readings from the book of Isaiah, three from the sermon 'Salvator noster' (Sermo 21) of Pope Leo, and three from homilies by Sts Gregory, Ambrose, and Augustine. The reading of nine lessons on such a major feast-day, rather than twelve, suggests that the manuscript was written for a secular church or chapel, rather than a monastery.