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Manuscript - Leaf from an Antiphoner with a historiated initial U
  • Leaf from an Antiphoner with a historiated initial U
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Leaf from an Antiphoner with a historiated initial U

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Mainz (illuminated)

  • Date:

    ca. 1490 (illuminated)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water-based pigments, gilding and ink on parchment

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 81, box V

With their large folios and rich ornament, choirbooks were highly prized by 19th-century collectors. Early in the Museum's history, probably before 1863, a large number of folios were acquired from a single German Antiphonal. One of the leaves is inscribed '149[-]'. Sets of such choirbooks were often produced over a period of years, and the date may represent a local tradition for some event with which the books were associated. The ornament is difficult to assign to a particular centre as it is found over a wide area, but the attribution to the region of Mainz may be correct. The text and music are for the Divine Office of several feasts and saints' days.

This leaf shows St James of Compostela, identified by his pilgrim's badge, and St James the Less, with whom he shares a feast. The latter's emblem (the fuller's staff, used for beating cloth to cleanse it) is given prominence and so may suggest some link with a cloth-making centre. Feasts for St Benedict perhaps indicate that the choirbook was made for a monastery.

Physical description

Specimen of a manuscript

Place of Origin

Mainz (illuminated)


ca. 1490 (illuminated)



Materials and Techniques

Water-based pigments, gilding and ink on parchment


Height: 350 mm written space, Width: 228 mm written space

Historical context note

Data taken from notes compiled by Rowan Watson. The full text of the entry is as follows:

'1107.3 (MS 565)
Leaf, with historiated initial V (St James the Greater with pilgrim's staff and bag, and badges on his hat, and St James the Less with a fuller's staff), spray of floral stems in margin

Inc: Virtute magna reddebant apostoli

Germany (Mainz?) . c. 1490
msd; written space 350 x 228 mm
7 lines of music (staves of 5 red lines, 29 mm) and text.
Hufhagel notation
Paginated "390" (16c?)

Pub: 1908 cat, 53; 1923 cat, 43'

Descriptive line

Leaf from Antiphoner. Historiated initial V with St. James the Greater holding pilgrim's staff and bad and with pilgrim's badges on his hat and St. James the Less with a fuller's staff. Spray of floral stems in margin. Germany. ca 1490. A duplicate number MS.565 was assigned to this object in error and was subsequently cancelled.



Subjects depicted

Music; Fuller's staff


Manuscripts; Christianity; Religion


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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