Leaf from the Seitenstetten Antiphonary


This leaf from a dismembered choir book exemplifies the “Beautiful Style” in Prague, associated with the court of Emperor Wenceslas IV. The initial for Christmas depicts the Virgin Mary kneeling before the Christ Child, surrounded by a mandorla of light. Both details relate to a vision of Christ’s birth experienced by St. Birgitta of Sweden (1303–1373). In the margin, a Benedictine monk imitates the Virgin’s pose, holding a scroll that reads “Pray for us to God.” The manuscript was likely part of a set donated to a Benedictine monastery by an unidentified patron, who must have come from the highest echelons of the court. His orange garments as depicted within another initial from the book (shown below) indicate that he was not a cleric.

Leaf from the “Seitenstetten Antiphonary,” in Latin
Czech Republic (Bohemia), Prague, ca. 1405
Cleveland Museum of Art
Andrew R. And Martha Holden Jennings Fund, 1976.100