Inhabited Initial H

Object Details

Title:

Inhabited Initial H

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

French

Place(s):

Paris France Sens (or) France (Place created)

Date:

about 1170 - 1180

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 44.3 x 29.1 cm (17 7/16 x 11 7/16 in.)

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The illuminator painted an inhabited initial H to distinguish the opening of the Decretal's section on natural law and legislative law, which begins with Humanum genus duobus regitur (The human race is governed by two [laws]). Within a gold frame, the armature of the letter H, elaborated with abstract geometric patterns, terminates in leafy vine scrolls. Within the letter, a man with a club and a centaur with a bow and arrow seem to be caught in the vine scrolls. These fantastic characters are typical of Romanesque manuscript illumination, as is the definition of the figures' clothing in nested V-folds. Despite the illuminator's focus on surface animation and pattern, he paid careful attention to anatomy, logically rendering the figures' twisting movements. In the margin the glosses are written in a smaller script. These notations provide indices to similar passages in other books, refer the reader to controversial issues of canon law, and discuss problems in the texts.

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