The J. Paul Getty Museum

Inhabited Initial B

Object Details

Title:

Inhabited Initial B

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Italian

Place:

Montecassino, Italy (Place Created)

Date:

1153

Medium:

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

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig IX 1 (83.ML.97), fol. 140v

Dimensions:

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

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Object Description

The section of this breviary from Montecassino devoted to the Psalms opens with a full-page inhabited initial B introducing Psalm 1.

Tightly controlled, inward-moving spirals form the curves of the initial B; within the armature of the letter, complex interlace and wildly spiraling tendrils enliven the geometry of its structure. The illuminator, possibly the scribe Sigenulfus mentioned in a prayer in the manuscript, took delight in the variation of colors and the contrast of substantial forms and thinner lines, regular geometric shapes and organic vines. Between the various vines and ribbons, dogs twist around themselves to bite leaves, other dogs, and even their own bodies.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (July 1 to September 30, 1984)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 1 to September 30, 1984
Monasteries and Manuscripts (April 21 to July 5, 1987)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 21 to July 5, 1987
Vie a mon desir: Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Patrons (April 18 to July 2, 1989)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 18 to July 2, 1989
Monasteries and Manuscripts (July 16 to September 29, 1991)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 16 to September 29, 1991
The Psalms and Their Illustration (April 27 to July 3, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 27 to July 3, 1993
The Psalms and Their Illustration (February 1 to April 23, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 1 to April 23, 2000
Illuminating Color (May 22 to August 26, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 22 to August 26, 2001
The Medieval Best Seller: Illuminated Books of Hours (October 29, 2002 to January 19, 2003)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 29, 2002 to January 19, 2003
Masterpieces in Miniature: Italian Manuscript Illumination from the J. Paul Getty Museum (September 25, 2005 to January 2, 2006)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), September 25, 2005 to January 2, 2006