This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.
Open Content images tend to be large in file-size. To avoid potential data charges from your carrier, we recommend making sure your device is connected to a Wi-Fi network before downloading.
Initial D: Saint John the Baptist
Attributed to Cosmè Tura (Italian (Ferrarese), about 1430 - 1495)
Ferrara, Italy (Place created)
about 1470 - 1480
Tempera and gold on parchment
Leaf: 35 x 29.8 cm (13 3/4 x 11 3/4 in.)
The isolated figure of John the Baptist is set against a harsh, minimal landscape. He points up toward heaven with a brittle finger and looks down reflectively toward the inhospitable earth. The Latin words on his winding scroll, taken from the Bible, explain the barren setting, Ego vox clamantis [in deserto] (I am the voice crying aloud in the wilderness).
The cutting comes from a Franciscan gradual (the choir book containing the sung portions of the mass) illuminated by the important fifteenth-century Italian artist, Cosmè Tura, official court artist to the prominent Este family of Ferrara. Tura imbues the scene with a sense of palpable melancholy, not only through the sensitively rendered face of Saint John, but also through the stark landscape and muted colors of the miniature.
Treasures of a Lost Art: Italian Manuscript Painting of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (June 7 to August 31, 2003)
- California Palace of the Legion of Honor (San Francisco), June 7 to August 31, 2003
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
Landscape in the Renaissance (August 1 to October 15, 2006)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 1 to October 15, 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
Rare Finds: Ten Years of Collecting Manuscripts (February 12 to April 20, 2008)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), February 12 to April 20, 2008
Renaissance Splendors of the Northern Italian Courts (March 31 to June 21, 2015)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 31 to June 21, 2015