Skip to main content

Historiated initial from Choir Books: Marlay cutting Fr. 16a

An image of Cutting (manuscript)

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 32 (Rothschild)


Historiated initial from Choir Books




MS Marlay Cutting Fr. 16a

One of two historiated initials

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.


History note: 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.

Legal notes

Bequeathed by Charles Brinsley Marlay

Place(s) associated

  • Paris ⪼ North ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1912) by Marlay, Charles Brinsley


16th Century
Production date: circa AD 1500

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Cambridge Illuminated

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment
Leaf Height 168 mm Width 183 mm

Techniques used in production

Illuminated manuscript

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: Marlay cutting Fr. 16a
Primary reference Number: 209504
Project ID: 1358
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 1 November 2016 Updated: Monday 9 August 2021 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Historiated initial from Choir Books" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-06-15 07:27:12

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Historiated initial from Choir Books |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-06-15 07:27:12|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        alt="Historiated initial from Choir Books"
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">Historiated initial from Choir Books</figcaption>

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...