Benedictine Antiphonary

Belbello da Pavia Italian

Not on view

In 1462, the successful artistic career of Belbello da Pavia seemed to take a disastrous turn, as he was exiled from the court of Mantua for a notorious crime. In fact, however, his move to Venice proved to be good fortune, both for the artist and the abbot of San Giorgio Maggiore, who commissioned him to create a decorated ensemble of choir books. This volume from that ensemble contains chants to be sung at daily prayer services from Advent, the four weeks preceding Christmas, up to lent, the season of penance and fasting before Easter.

The startling brilliance of pink and acid green is characteristic of Belbello's work, and the attention lavished on the decorated letters is evidence of the importance of the comission. Regrettably, only three of the bound volumes are known to survive today, and this one, the figurative imagery of which was cut out in the nineteenth century, is the only one to have left Venice.

Benedictine Antiphonary, Belbello da Pavia (Italian, born Lombard, active ca. 1420–70) and collaborators, Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment; binding: leather over wood boards with copper alloy corner mounts and bosses, Italian

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