The Antiphonary of St. Peter in Salzburg is one of the most splendid liturgical manuscripts ever made. Due to its exceptional value, for almost 8 centuries it was mainly used in solemn occasions and kept safe in the library for the rest of the year. The codex, due to its format, is justly considered one of the most imposing manuscripts of the 12th century.
Iconographic Project of the Antiphonary of St. Peter
The iconographic apparatus of the Antiphonary of St. Peter features several vividly painted miniatures on golden ground, another lavish decorative element are the golden initials painted on purple grounds, typical color of Romanesque art.
The decorative elements include 12 calendar pages, two Easter tables, and more than 400 initials featuring decorative design such as flora and fauna.
The most lavish and intricate part of the antiphonary features 6 full-page illuminations and 2 half-page miniatures achieved with opaque color painting. Framing the figures painted with warm colors, are golden gleaming backgrounds taking as a model the Byzantine method.
Decorative Techniques: Opaque Color Painting and Pen Drawings
Another magnificent decoration are the lavishly illuminated full-length initials which exhibit a great ability in the use of gold and silver interlace, at times decorated with flowers and at time with animals and human figures.
The antiphonary, in addition to featuring the opaque color painting, also showcases 49 pen drawings which make use of the two inks used for the written text and which provide a visual consistency granted by their blue and green backgrounds.
These techniques – well-balanced and coherent – are only two of the several decorative elements present in the codex. Indeed, ornamental elements are featured on almost all pages, with vines, stylized foliage, animals, and flowers decorating the over 400 decorated initials.
One feature worth of notice is the calendar section comprising 12 calendar pages, each displaying two saints together with a zodiac. Enigmatic numbers and letters are provided on the left margin of the page, which are of easy decryption once the reader has mastered the medieval computing technique which, in this case, calculates the date of Easter according to the position of the moon, thus explaining the presence of the 2 Easter tables.
Beautiful Example of Romanesque Script
The Antiphonary of St. Peter exhibits an exquisite Romanesque script, and it is the work of several scribes, although showing very similar features. It is worth noticing the presence of neumes of St Gall located above the lines.