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Choirs of Angels: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300-1500
THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART BULLETIN | VOLUME 66 | NUMBER 3

Choirs of Angels: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300–1500

Boehm, Barbara Drake
2008
64 pages
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The illuminated choir book is one of the great legacies of Western culture, a unique marriage of two great achievements of the Middle Ages—the illumination of books and the codified system of musical notation. Intended for monasteries and cathedrals half a millennium ago, these exquisite manuscripts are still captivating today. Most were removed from massive bound volumes in the Napoleonic era, and their brilliant colors and shining gold surfaces have attracted connoisseurs ever since. For the art historian, these illuminations bear witness to exceptional aesthetic accomplishment. For the musicologist, choir books provide a rich sources in the history of notation and the development of chant, the transcendent tonalities of which have great contemporary appeal. For the historian, choir books serve as primary sources in the study of the lives of religious communities and the philosophy and faith that infused medieval Europe. And most important, for visitors to the Museum, our choral manuscripts exemplify the extraordinary creativity of artists in Italy on the eve of the Renaissance.

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Bartolo di Fredi  Italian, Tempera on poplar, gilding, Italian
1374
Manuscript Illumination with the Martyrdom of Saint Stephen in an Initial E, from a Gradual, Niccolò di Giacomo da Bologna  Italian, Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment, Italian
ca. 1394–1402
Annunciation in an Initial M, Maestro Daddesco (?) Italian, Tempera and gold on parchment
ca. 1310–15
Manuscript Leaf with King David in an Initial I, from a Psalter, Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment, North Italian
North Italian
early 15th century
Manuscript Illumination with David in Prayer in an Initial M, from a Psalter, Girolamo dai Libri  Italian, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
1501–2
King David in Prayer in an Initial B, Zanobi Strozzi  Italian, Tempera on parchment
ca. 1450
Manuscript Illumination with Singing Monks in an Initial D, from a Psalter, Girolamo dai Libri  Italian, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
1501–2
Benedictine Antiphonary, Belbello da Pavia and collaborators Italian, Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment; binding: leather over wood boards with copper alloy corner mounts and bosses, Italian
ca. 1467–70
Manuscript Leaf with the Celebration of a Mass in an Initial S, from an Antiphonary, Master of the Riccardiana Lactantius, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
second half 15th century
Gradual, Tempera and ink on parchment, with oak and tooled leather binding, Italian
Italian
ca. 1310–15
Manuscript Leaf with the Nativity in an Initial H, from an  Antiphonary, Master of the Riccardiana Lactantius, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
second half 15th century
Initial P with the Martyrdom of Saint Peter Martyr, Tempera and ink on parchment, Italian
Italian
second half 13th century
Manuscript Leaf with the Martyrdom of Saint Peter Martyr in an Initial P, from a Gradual, Tempera and ink on parchment, South Italian
South Italian
ca. 1270–80
Manuscript Illumination with the Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial A, from an Antiphonary, Cosmè Tura (Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura)  Italian, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
1450–60
Manuscript Illumination with All Saints in an Initial V, from an Antiphonary, Cosmè Tura (Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura)  Italian, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
1450–60
Manuscript Illumination with the Assumption of the Virgin in an Initial G, from a Gradual, Cosmè Tura (Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura)  Italian, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
1450–60
Manuscript Illumination with the Presentation in the Temple in an Initial S, from a Gradual, Cosmè Tura (Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura)  Italian, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
1450–60
Manuscript Leaf with Saint John Gualbert in an Initial S, from an Antiphonary, Tempera, ink, and gold on parchment, Italian
Italian
early 16th century
An Episode from the Life of Saint Giovanni Gualberto, Niccolò di Pietro Gerini  Italian, Tempera on wood, gold ground
Manuscript Leaf with the Visitation in an Initial A and Cardinal Adam Easton with a Dominican Saint and Saint Dominic, from an Antiphonary, Tempera, ink and gold on parchment, Italian
Italian
ca. 1400
Showing 20 of 46

View Citations

Boehm, Barbara Drake. 2008. Choirs of Angels: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300-1500. New York : New Haven: Metropolitan Museum of Art ; Yale University Press.