MASTER of the Dominican Effigies
(active c. 1328-1350 in Florence)

Laudario of the Compagnia di Sant'Agnese

Tempera and gold on parchment, 367 x 273 mm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Dispersed today among a number of collections are nearly two dozen leaves and cuttings from a single laudario, or book of hymns to be sung in Italian by the members of a lay confraternity. This illustrated hymnal was one of the most ambitious and lavish manuscripts created in Florence in the first half of the fourteenth century. All but five of the surviving illuminations from the laudario were painted by Pacino di Bonaguida, the most prolific manuscript painter in Florence in that period. The remaining leaves are by the Master of the Dominican Effigies.

This sumptuously decorated leaf contains the Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds. The opening words of the hymn "Xpisto e nato [e] hu[manato per salvar la gente]" (Christ is born and made human to save the people), are spelled out in Lombard capitals of alternating blue and red set beneath a single stave of monophonic music.