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Nativity in an Initial P Boxed Notecards

6 x 4.625 inches
16 cards and envelopes

This boxed set of stunning blank notecards are perfect for sending holiday greetings or notes to any lover of illuminations. Including 16 envelopes, each card features bronzing details to mimic the effect of gold used on the original artwork. Cards measure 4.5 x 6 inches in size.

The gradual introit (opening hymn) for Christmas Day begins Puer natus est, “for unto us a child is born.” Illuminators made the most of this graphic opportunity by painting a nativity scene inside the initial P, a space large enough to include iconographic details such as the manger, ox and ass, angels, and the shepherd. Gradual manuscripts could be enormous multivolume compilations two or three feet high, with text and music for the Mass easily legible by the choir standing before a church’s lectern. Here, that broad expanse of parchment left room for the artist to portray the Annunciation to the Shepherds at the foot of the page and Isaiah’s head in the stem of the initial- a reminder that his Old Testament prophecies are the origin of the introit (Isaiah 9:6).

Nativity and Annunciation in an Initial P
Gradual cuttings, leaf 1
Italy, Florence, 1392-99
Silvestro dei Gherarducci
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1909, MS M.653.1