The J. Paul Getty Museum

Inhabited Initial C

Object Details


Inhabited Initial C






Montecassino, Italy (Place Created)




Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig IX 1 (83.ML.97), fol. 138v


Leaf: 19.2 × 13.2 cm (7 9/16 × 5 3/16 in.)

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Object Description

In this breviary from the monastery of Montecassino, the prayer Comitetur nos quesumus d[omi]ne[Look after us, we pray, O Lord] opens with an elaborate letter C that resembles a rounded E or figure eight design. Built from blocks filled with interlace, the letter contains swirling tendrils that threaten to burst its boundaries. In the two centers of the figure eight, fantastic dogs twist and squirm among the vines. On the right side, big blue animal heads with open mouths mark the terminals of the letter. In the center, a monstrous creature with human arms but cleft feet hooks his arms around the curling tendrils. Four dogs lunge forward to bite the creature's shoulders and legs, echoing the action of numerous other twisting and biting dogs throughout the initial.

The illuminator wrote the second letter, O, in gold to the right of this exuberant first letter and placed the remaining letters at the bottom of the page. A later scribe added the C in black ink to clarify which letter was intended by the large initial.

Illuminated Liturgical Manuscripts (January 22 to March 30, 1986)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), January 22 to March 30, 1986
The Decorated Letter (July 21 to October 6, 1987)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 21 to October 6, 1987
Illuminated Italian Manuscripts (April 19 to July 10, 1988)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 19 to July 10, 1988
Illuminated Devotional Manuscripts (October 16 to December 30, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 16 to December 30, 1990
The Decorated Letter (January 14 to March 29, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), January 14 to March 29, 1992