This masterful initial M, colorful and crowded with playful animals and fantastic forms, recalls the announcement to the Virgin Mary by the Angel Gabriel that she will conceive and bear a son. The text introduced here is the Response for the First Sunday in Advent: Missus est Gabriel Angelus ad Miriam Virginem... (The Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary...). The decorated initial is related in style to a set of choir books made by Belbello for the Church of Sts. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. Belbello's style has been associated with another artist, the Master of the Murano Gradual (shown nearby), with whom he possibly collaborated in Venice.
Belbello's career placed him in Milan, Mantua, Pavia, and Venice. His services were highly sought by Renaissance princes, and his style was influential and widespread in northern Italy.
Baltimore, The Walters Art Gallery, "The International Style: The Arts in Europe around 1400" October 22-December 2, 1962 (extended to Dec. 30), cat. no. 76. The Cleveland Museum of Art (10/25/15-3/6/16) "Imagining the Garden"Berkeley, University Art Gallery, University of California, "Pages from Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts" April 24-June 8, 1963, cat. no. 46, pl. IICleveland Museum of Art, "Gothic Art 1360-1440 (cat. CMA Bulletin, September 1963, no. 67.Cleveland Museum of Art, "When Angels Bent Near the Earth to Touch their Harps of Gold: The Christmas Story" December 1, 1981-January 17, 1982.Cleveland Museum of Art, "Object Lessons: Cleveland Creates an Art Museum" June 7-September 8, 1991.Cleveland Museum of Art, "The Decorated Letter and the Illuminator's Art," September 25-December 19,1993. The Cleveland Museum of Art (10/10/2004 - 10/02/2005); "Illuminated Manuscripts"Bavarian Nationalmuseum, Munich (5/10/2007 - 9/16/2007) and the J. Paul Getty Musuem, Los Angeles (10/30/2007 - 1/20/2008): "Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art"Cleveland Museum of Art, (11/06/2010 - 04/17/2011); "The Glory Of the Painted Page: Manuscript Illuminations from the Permanent Collections"