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Description

This large Choir Book leaf includes the first responsory at Matins on Pentecost (May 31) with an historiated initial “D” introducing the incipit Dum complerentur dies pentecostes (“When the day of Pentecost was fully come”). 

The stem of the initial contains a bearded courtier dressed in a red and green tunic with folded arms and a sword hanging from his belt. Wearing a parti-colored garment, the figure on the left might be a fool.  Opposite, a griffon climbs the bowl of the letter “D,” sprouting acanthus leaves from its tail. Its green wings, red beak and talons mirror the courtier’s tunic. The initial’s counter is filled with a triangular star pattern executed in red penwork and offset with a green wash. Decorative pen strokes extend from the initial into the margin in long, whip-like flourishes with gatherings of green loops in sets of four. The text, written in an angular textura script, is embellished with red rubrics and a red initial surrounded by iridescent blue penwork. Single column text in six lines are interspersed between four bar lines and mensural notation. Some small patches of discoloration exist and a natural flaw in parchment opens in the upper right margin; otherwise in excellent condition.

Provenance

1. First recorded in the collection of Jakob Heinrich von Hefner-Alteneck (1811-1903), a German art historian and director of the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum. Hefner-Alteneck’s dark blue inkstamp is visible in the lower right corner. His collection focused on medieval arms and armor; note the detailed sword held by the courtier here. The Hefner-Alteneck collection was dispersed by auction on June 6-7, 1904 by Hugo Helbing of Munich. The present leaf along with nine others was offered as lot 498 (a three-quarter page initial from the parent codex is reproduced in Helbing’s catalog). Other leaves from this group reemerged at auction at Fineart Semenzato, Venice, April 25, 2003, lot 197.

2. The present leaf passed to a collector with the initials “L.B.A.,” inscribed and dated 1968 in pencil at foot of the leaf. 

Literature:

Kunstsammlungen des verewigten Herrn Geheimrats Dr. Jakob von Hefner-Alteneck des ehemaligen Direktors des Bayerischen Nationalmuseums und Generalkonservator der Bayerischen, vol. 1, Munich, June 6, 1904, no. 498.

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