Divine anamorphosis: the phenomenality of gold and chant in a fourteenth-century antiphonary from Santa Maria sopra Porta

Variant title
Anamorfóza božského: fenomenalita zlata a zpěvu v antifonáři ze čtrnáctého století z kostela Santa Maria Sopra Porta
Source document: Convivium. 2021, vol. 8, iss. 1, pp. [186]-217
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
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The music inscribed in a Florentine Antiphonary (collection of Robert and Katherine Burke, now held at Stanford University) shows a continuation of the long medieval liturgical tradition (Roman usage) of chant. Analysis of the codex reveals how the melodic designs of two responsories shape the semantics of the text. The two chants are singled out by the two figural initials, allegedly painted around 1430 by Zanobi Strozzi (ca. 1412–1468) though new evidence suggests that the illuminations were likely produced by a different artist and before 1390. Of greater interest, this article argues for a holistic analytic approach that combines the study of music and miniatures together to uncover associations that might have moved singers as they looked at the Antiphonary during performance. At these moments the metaphysical would have become present in both the visual and the aural; the light of candles and oil-lamps enlivened the gold of the miniatures, and the singing voices incarnated the written music in the ephemeral medium of chant. This resulting sense of being enveloped by the divine as optical and acoustic aura is here identified as a performative imago Dei and linked to the dynamics of divine anamorphosis, a concept introduced by the philosopher and phenomenologist Jean-Luc Marion.
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