INTITIAL from a manuscript Gradual or Antiphonal; initial 'U' painted in rose red with elaborate white tracery, the centre filled with coloured foliage and blue grapes, all against a richly burnished gold ground, square notation on red 4-line staves and one partial line of text written in brown ink in a gothic hand on the verso, cut to shape, one corner chipped, in fine condition. 90 x 90 mm

Italy, ? Ferrara, c. 1475.


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The stylized decoration and use of bright colours, including the deep blue grape motif, recalls the art of Ferrara at the end of the third quarter of the 15th century. Compare, for example, an initial in a Bible painted for the Este family by Taddeo Crivelli (active from 1451, died 1479) which is now in Modena (Este Library, Ms. V. G. 12; see M. Salmi, Italian Miniatures, 1954, pl. LIII). Compare also the similar initial in a slightly later manuscript (Stralsund, Stadtarchiv, Ms. IV. 290; see E. Rothe, Buchmalerei aus Zwolf Jahrhunderten, 1965, p. 270, pl. 129).

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