Sano di Pietro
Italian, 1405 ‑ 1481
The Initial M, with the Annunciation (page from an antiphonary), about 1470 ‑ 1473
Ink, tempera, gold on vellum
21 13/16 × 15 7/16 in. (55.4 × 39.2 cm.)
Purchase, Museum Art Fund  1963.9

How Was This Used?
With its delicately painted initial M, square musical notes, and four staff lines instead of five, this page from a choir book looks very different from modern sheet music. It was originally one of several pages handpainted by Sano di Pietro to decorate a music book, or antiphonary, for a church hospital in Siena, Italy. The book contained musical prayers sung by the clergy at appointed times during the day for religious holidays throughout the year. This page, with its depiction of the archangel Gabriel telling the Virgin Mary she will give birth to Jesus, was sung in the wee hours of the morning in December and during the feast of the Annunciation on March 25.