Antiphoner (3)

Beheading of St John the Baptist
Fitzwilliam Mus. MS 45, f. 1r
Naples, 1604

This is another volume of the Santa Maria della Sanità Antiphoners containing the section of the Sanctoral from the Decollation of St John the Baptist (29 August) to All Saints (1 November). The historiated initial shows the beheading of St John the Baptist and in the corners of the frame in orange and yellow grisaille, one cut out, are images relating to his martyrdom – at the top his head on a plate, at the bottom his preaching staff and the scallop shell used for his baptising, and on the right the bars of the prison in which he was confined. The shields of arms at the top and bottom, which were also in the frame of the previous item, are of the Dominican Order at the top, and at the bottom of Francesco Pignatelli, Marquess of Cerchiara, who paid for the set of choir books to be made for Santa Maria della Sanità. The books have inscriptions recording the donation of the Marquess and the name of the scribe and artist, Giovanni Ballo and Giovanni Battista Rosa. These books are a fine example of Neapolitan illumination of the Baroque period when these huge choir books still continued to be produced as manuscripts in both Italy and Spain.

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