This cutting is a historiated initial ‘S’ from a large choir book depicting Louis XII, in his coronation robe, healing sufferers of scrofula. French and English kings were thought to be able to cure this particular ailment through their Royal Touch. The practice served to further justify their rule as lawful and divinely ordained.
Cuttings, that is, fragments from medieval manuscripts, were easier to sell than entire books. It therefore became common practice to cut out folios or details from pages and sell them as individual, miniature works of art. The size of this initial suggests that the parent manuscript from which it was cut was on a very large, imposing scale.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, 168 x 183 mm, reverse obscured by paper mount, with letter forms and red four-line musical staves partially visible.
Historiated initials in blue, ornamented in white, on gold ground with blue, orange and green scrolling vine motifs in the four corners: S, Louis XII, dressed in his coronation robe, accompanied by a bishop and cardinal, extends his healing touch to people suffering from scrofula.
Commissioned by King Louis XII of France (1498-1515) and his consort, Anne of Brittany (1477-1514); Charles Brinsley Marlay (1831-1912); his bequest, 1912.