Centuries of Silence @ AGNS Halifax

Salzinnes Antiphonal Halifax Psallentes

Opening May 5 2017 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, in Halifax, Canada: the exhibition ‘Centuries of Silence: the Discovery of the Salzinnes Antiphonal’.

Commissioned in 1554-1555 by Prioress Dame Julienne de Glymes, the Salzinnes Antiphonal originated from the Cistercian abbey of Salzinnes near Namur, in present-day Belgium. The manuscript (240 folios) contains sung portions of the Divine Office, including antiphons, responsories and hymns.

Painted in a bright palette in gouache on vellum, the manuscript features full-page illuminations, historiated initials and decorated borders. Of particular significance are the depictions of nuns living in the abbey in the mid-sixteenth century and identified by their names, some with their coats-of-arms.

The Antiphonal was likely acquired in the 1840s or 1850s in France and brought to Nova Scotia by Bishop William Walsh, the first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Halifax. It was donated to the Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary’s University, in 1975. Tucked away in Special Collections, the unidentified manuscript was discovered in 1998 by art historian Judith Dietz. Since then, the Antiphonal has been the subject of research and several multi-disciplinary projects, including the 2017 exhibition ‘Centuries of Silence: The Discovery of the Salzinnes Antiphonal’, held at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and curated by Judith Dietz.

Psallentes is present at this exhibition through our recording of music for St. Roch and St. Hubert. Also, from May 5 on, our new album Salzinnes Saints will be available at the gallery shop.

Image credit: Judith Dietz.

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