Antiphonal of Cividale

  • S. XV (before 1433); parchment; mm 555 x 380; ff. I, 184, I’
  • Cividale del Friuli, National Archaeological Museum, Archives and Library, codex XL

The brush-painted initials of this antiphonal, manufactured for the chapter of Cividale, exhibit an insisting presence of monstrous beings, drakes and grotesque masks either placed in their inside fields or forming the initials themselves.

The codex is part of a six-volume Antiphonal, with eight lines of text and music, written and miniated for St. Mary’s collegiate church of Cividale, which also includes the volumes with shelf-marks XXXVII, XXXVIII, XLVII, XLVIII, XLIX, that are all kept in the Codices Fund of the National Archaeological Museum of Cividale del Friuli. It is present, together with the other codices of this series, in the 1433 inventory of the Chapter, and in the subsequent one of the years 1355-1456. It contains the chants of the Common of Saints’ liturgy of hours (ff. 1-48v), of the Proper of Saints from St. Thomas’ feast to the Dedication of a church (ff. 48v-109v) and, finally, of the Proper of Time from the 1st Sunday after Pentecost’s octave to the end of the liturgical year with an addition of antiphons for different occasions (ff. 110-184v). The decoration is assigned to a late-Gothic Venetan workshop, which was probably active in loco. The brush-painted initials exhibit an insisting presence of monstrous beings, drakes and grotesque masks either placed in their inside fields or forming the initials themselves, interposed between naturalistic leaves and racemes painted in a juicy colour and with a white-lead relief. Albeit with an original rendering, the choice of illustrations is aligned to that taste for fancy that between the fourteenth and fifteenth century characterized such great miniaturists as the Master of the Novella and Cristoforo Cortese.

f. 80r, Antiphonal, responsory of All Saints’ 1st eve, (detail, initial S with monstrous beings)

f. 80r, Antiphonal, responsory of All Saints’ 1st eve, (detail, initial S with monstrous beings)

f. 2r, Antiphonal, responsory of the Common of Apostles’ 1st eve, initial E with monstrous beings

f. 2r, Antiphonal, responsory of the Common of Apostles’ 1st eve, initial E with monstrous beings

Leave a Comment