Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Single leaf from a Gradual with the Assumption of the Virgin, Initial G with the death and assumption of the Virgin, Walters Manuscript W.756

This leaf originally belonged to a mid-thirteenth-century gradual from southern Germany, or possibly the Seitenstetten region of Austria. The pages contain the fragmentary hymns for the feasts of St. Lawrence and the Assumption of the Virgin. The illumination introduces the latter, in the form of a large historiated initial "G," and depicts the death of the Virgin surrounded by apostles in the lower portion of the initial, while revealing her assumption into Heaven above. Christ appears within a rainbow mandorla and holds a small figure representing Mary's soul, an image that is based on Byzantine iconography. Originally the verso of the leaf, the image was fortuitously preserved due to the recto having been re-used as an account book cover in the early seventeenth century, the title of which is still visible.

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