You are here:

Bifolio from an Antiphonary: Historiated Initial O with the Nativity

Bifolio from an Antiphonary: Historiated Initial O with the Nativity

early 1400s

Ink, tempera, and gold on parchment

Sheet: 56.8 x 38.9 cm (22 3/8 x 15 5/16 in.); Framed: 61.6 x 76.8 cm (24 1/4 x 30 1/4 in.); Matted: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1976.100

Description

This splendid bifolium (a sheet folded in half to form two leaves) once formed part of an important antiphonary produced for an unidentified Benedictine monastery in Bohemia. With its rich illumination, it provides an important example of Bohemian painting during the opening years of the 15th century as well as painting in the city of Prague, one of the great court centers of Europe. The decoration of the leaf is dominated by a majestic initial O that depicts the Nativity. A scene in the background shows the angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to the Shepherds. The initial itself is placed within a square frame outside of which a single Benedictine monk observes the sacred event. The initial introduces the Latin chants for the first vespers of Christmas Day: O iuda et iherusalem (“Oh Judea and Jerusalem”). Framing the text are luxurious, scrolling acanthus leaves. Within the upper margin, two prophets emerge from the lush, foliated tendrils to observe the nativity below. In this way, the foretelling of the birth of Christ in the Old Testament is established visually.

See also

Contact us

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

Is something not working on this page? Please email help.website@clevelandart.org.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar.