Initial S: The Virgin and Child

Object Details


Initial S: The Virgin and Child






about 1300


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment


Leaf: 26.4 x 18.3 cm (10 3/8 x 7 3/16 in.)

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An image of the Madonna and Child occupies the initial S that opens the prayer Sancta et perpetua virgo (Holy and perpetual virgin). The Virgin Mary, crowned and holding a scepter, balances the Christ Child on her hip as he reaches up with his right hand to touch her cheek. The image thus presents the Virgin both as the Queen of Heaven and as the human mother of the infant Jesus.

A knight in splendid armor kneeling at the bottom of the letter's extender offers a model of piety for the book's reader. The whimsy of the juggling monkey above the letter contrasts with the seriousness of the knight's prayer below.

Related Works
Faces of Power and Piety: Portraits in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (February 2 to April 18, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 2 to April 18, 1999