MAINZ: ECCLESIASTICAL CAPITAL AND CRADLE OF PRINTING
Although little is known about its original context, this leaf once formed part of an antiphonary—a collection of chants—nearly identical to a set of choir books created around 1432 for the Carmelite monastery at Mainz. Those books were commissioned by Johannes Fabri, the son of a goldsmith and stepson of a butcher, who likely donated the set to mark his admission to the monastery, where he would eventually become prior. Instructions for creating the twisting, multicolored vine-scroll ornament survive in contemporary model books used by professional painters. Marking the beginning of a feast in Advent, the large initial M and its foliate decoration showcase exactly what the new technology of printing was not capable of doing.