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Decorated Incipit Page
about 1030 - 1040
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 23.2 x 16 cm (9 1/8 x 6 5/16 in.)
This imposing initial O begins the readings for a feast celebrating the life of the Virgin Mary. In the time of the Ottonian emperors (the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire from 919 to 1024), manuscript painters experimented with designs inherited from classical Rome. Acanthus leaves and vine scrolls--popular motifs in ancient sculpture--were often incorporated into capital letters. Here, the tendril and leaf forms were flattened and made uniform so that their shapes could be woven into an interlace design, both conforming to the shape of the letter and recalling decorative metalwork.