Initial Q: A Priest Stabbed by a Soldier

Object Details

Title:

Initial Q: A Priest Stabbed by a Soldier

Artist/Maker(s):

Bute Master (Franco-Flemish, active about 1260 - 1290)

Culture:

French

Place(s):

Northeastern (illuminated) France Paris (written) France (Place created)

Date:

illumination about 1270 - 1280; written about 135 - 1375

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold, and iron gall ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 17 x 11.9 cm (6 11/16 x 4 11/16 in.)

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Inside the initial Q opening Psalm 51, a priest prays before an altar, seemingly unaware of the soldier about to attack him. The figure depicted may be Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1170 he was stabbed to death in Canterbury Cathedral; soon afterward, he was canonized as a martyr and the cathedral became a popular pilgrimage site. The theme of Christian persecution continues in the lower margin, with an animated scene of archers shooting arrows at two nude figures whose haloes identify them as saints. The illuminator may have taken his inspiration from the opening lines of the psalm, Quid gloriaris in malicia qui potens es in iniquitate (Why would you be glorified in malice, you who are powerful in iniquity?), interpreting those who are "powerful in iniquity" as persecutors.

Related Works
Exhibitions
The Psalms and Their Illustration (April 27 to July 3, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), April 27 to July 3, 1993, (Cat.)
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, (Cat.)
Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination 1200-1350 (December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012, (Cat.)