Historiated Initial (A) Excised from a Gradual: Christ in Majesty with King David and Prophets

Historiated Initial (A) Excised from a Gradual: Christ in Majesty with King David and Prophets

c. 1300-1340

Ink, tempera, and gold on parchment

Sheet: 28 x 24 cm (11 x 9 7/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1952.107


Did you know?

Directly below the decorated initial is a line of music; the black squares are music notes sitting on a staff. During the Middle Ages the staff had only four lines, unlike today.


This initial A probably refers to one of the most famous responses in Latin sung on the first Advent Sunday before Christmas: Aspiciens a longe et ecce video Dei potentiam venientem (I look from afar, and behold I see the power of God coming). With this song the physical presence of Christ in the world was celebrated. The leaf is probably taken from an antiphonary, a large liturgical book used by the choir for chanting. The style is reminiscent of Italian art during the 1200s and can be dated to the time before the Black Death.

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