This installation of Italian illuminations from the Robert Lehman Collection, featuring examples by leading masters from the early fourteenth to the early sixteenth century, highlights the achievements of this art form and its close ties to painting during the Italian Renaissance. The majority of the parchment leaves and cuttings, decorated in jewel-toned palettes and gold, are initials that have been excised from choir books. Approaching the scale of small panel paintings, the Florentine and Sienese initials reflect the colossal size of these books, which enabled a large group of clergy to read the text and music at a distance. Two Northern Italian leaves, not created as part of manuscripts but as independent paintings on parchment, also blur the boundaries between the two art forms. In fact, nearly all of the illuminators represented worked in both media; paintings by three of them (Lorenzo Monaco, Sano di Pietro, and the Osservanza Master) are displayed nearby in the Lehman galleries, highlighting Robert Lehman's view of his miniatures as an extension of his paintings collection.
Maestro Daddesco(?) (Italian, Florentine, active first half fourteenth century). Annunciation in an Initial M, ca. 1310–15. Cutting from an antiphonary. Tempera and gold on parchment; 5 3/8 x 5 1/4 in. (13.6 x 13.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.2478)