in Latin, Illuminated Manuscript On Vellum
[Germany, probably Saxony, c.1435]
454 x 320mm, the initial 125 x 113mm. In the infill the prophet supports a book on the horizontal of the A, while a younger man beneath it holds a scroll, both those figures and the monochrome figures of Gabriel and the Annunciate Virgin in the staves point to Isaiah's prophecy of the Incarnation that continues from book to scroll; the foliate borders contain birds, a collared monkey, a pope, a cardinal and a wild man who holds a heraldic shield, azur, an imperial eagle or (marginal soiling, wear affecting figures in lower margin, some spotting, slight cropping, edges strengthened with paper strips on verso).
The antiphon, 'A diebus antiquis nos audivimus ex ore prophetarum' is for vespers on the first Sunday of Advent.
The border decoration is exuberant, dense and colourful and the figures are finely rendered. The style -- with its soft delicate palette, monochrome stave-figures and the scrolling inhabited acanthus, including a wild man -- recalls Bohemian illumination of the time of Wenceslas IV, but the coat of arms in the margin is that of the Imperial County Palatine (Pfalzgraviate) of Saxony. The present leaf would not have been one of the principal openings of the intact Breviary and its extensive and luxurious decoration indicates that it must have been a truly splendid manuscript, probably commissioned by a member of the court, perhaps even the Duke of Saxony himself.
£10,000 - £15,000