The historiated initial M is one of the most beautiful examples of 15th-century book illumination in Franconia. Originally, it decorated the beginning of the antiphon for vespers on the feast day of the Annunciation, which begins with the words Missus est Gabriel.

In the left-hand compartment, the angel Gabriel is depicted kneeling. On the right-hand side, Mary is shown carrying a book. Above Mary’s head, the dove of the Holy Spirit appears, which seems to have flown in by the open window in the background. The room is furnished with a patterned tiled floor and a wooden ceiling.

The initial has been ascribed to Hans Pleydenwurff, who was born in Bamberg around 1420 and died in Nuremberg in 1472. The initial is the only painted decoration for a book which is known from his workshop so far.


  • Title: Fragment of an Antiphonary
  • Creator: Hans Pleydenwurff and workshop
  • Date Created: ca. 1460/1465
  • Physical Location: Nuremburg
  • Physical Dimensions: 18,0 x 18,6 cm
  • Medium: parchment
  • Volume: 1 fragment
  • Shelf mark: I Qa 18
  • Photographer: Gerald Raab

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