The J. Paul Getty Museum

Initial S: Pentecost

Object Details


Initial S: Pentecost


Niccolò di Giacomo da Bologna (Italian, active 1349 - 1403)




Bologna, Italy (Place Created)


about 1394–1402


Tempera and gold

Object Number:

Ms. 86 (2004.48), recto


Leaf: 21.6 × 21 cm (8 1/2 × 8 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

This illumination shows Pentecost, the moment in which the Holy Spirit descends upon the twelve apostles in order to give them the ability to speak foreign languages so they might preach throughout the world. Although all twelve apostles are shown, sometimes only a forehead or a hint of a nose indicates the body. The narrative style of the artist, Niccolò da Bologna, was often crowded and intense. His solid, squat figures are compressed into the small space of the initial, overlapping one another. This cutting is one of twenty known large historiated initials made for a choir book commissioned by the Carthusian monastery of Santo Spirito in Lucca.

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
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
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