Initial I: A Martyr Saint

Object Details

Title:

Initial I: A Martyr Saint

Artist/Maker(s):

Lippo Vanni (Italian, active about 1340 - about 1375)

Culture:

Italian

Place(s):

Siena, Tuscany, Italy (Place created)

Date:

third quarter of 14th century

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 30.2 x 11.5 cm (11 7/8 x 4 1/2 in.)

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The elegant figure of this saint, which fully dominates the space of the initial I, is notable for its strong, monumental bearing. The artist employed a warm, glowing palette of gold and orange, endowing the figure with a luminous quality appropriate to a holy person.

The initial, cut from an antiphonal, probably introduced a generic text devoted to martyrs, which was individualized by the insertion of a particular saint's name. The saint shown is thus not a specific person but a composite martyr accompanied by the attributes of a number of saints who died for the Christian faith. The wool comb at the figure's feet was an instrument used to torture Saint Blasius, the rocks could refer to the stoning of Saint Stephen, the fire may refer to Saint Lawrence who was roasted alive, and the swords could indicate any number of martyr saints. Finally, the palm frond is a symbol of the martyr's triumph over death in the Christian afterlife.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Illuminated Choir Books of the Middle Ages and Renaissance 1995 (April 25 to July 9, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 25 to July 9, 1995, (Cat.)
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, (Cat.)
Songs of Praise: Illuminated Choir Books (July 23 to October 13, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 23 to October 13, 2002, (Cat.)
Masterpieces in Miniature: Italian Manuscripts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance (March 29 to June 12, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 29 to June 12, 2005, (Cat.)
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, (Cat.)
Music for the Masses: Illuminated Choir Books (August 14 to October 28, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 14 to October 28, 2007, (Cat.)
Untold Stories: Collecting and Transforming Medieval Manuscripts (February 26 to May 12, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 26 to May 12, 2013, (Cat.)
Related Media
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    Audio: Initial I: A Martyr Saint (Exhibit: UNTOLD_STORIES)