The J. Paul Getty Museum

Decorated Text Page

Object Details


Decorated Text Page


Nicolas Spierinc (Flemish, active 1455 - 1499)




Antwerp (illuminated), Belgium; Ghent (written), Belgium (Place Created)




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

Object Number:

Ms. 37 (89.ML.35), fol. 30v


Leaf: 12.4 × 9.2 cm (4 7/8 × 3 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

In this luxurious personal prayer book, even the usually plain pages of text are decorated. The scribe Nicolas Spierinc elegantly copied the text of the prayer to Saint Sebastian that begins on this page, with his pen flourishes extending into the margins. The ornament on the upper right springs from the ascending line of a letter b in the text. Such a letter, flourished with wide parallel pen strokes and occasional cross strokes, is known as a cadelle. Spierinc elegantly played with the varying widths of the strokes, using wider bands for the verticals and diagonals but maintaining the horizontal strokes as thinner lines. He used modeling on the leaf growing within the flourish to give it a three-dimensional effect.

The drolleries, fantastic figures and whimsical beasts cavorting in the margins, further enliven this page of text. As is common, they do not seem to relate to the theme of the text they garnish. In the space between the winged female centaur with a bow and arrow and the dragon she battles, a simple but elegant pen flourish stems from the D, the decorated first initial of the text.