Initial O: The Pietà

Object Details


Initial O: The Pietà


Master of the Lee Hours (Flemish, active about 1450 - 1470)




Ghent (probably), Belgium, Europe (Place created)


about 1450 - 1455


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 2, fol. 244


Leaf: 19.4 × 14 cm (7 5/8 × 5 1/2 in.)

See more

See less

Within a letter O, the stiff and emaciated body of the dead Christ extends across the lap of the Virgin Mary, who is seated at the foot of the cross. Mary Magdalene and Saint John the Evangelist join the Virgin in mourning Jesus. The scene introduces one of the most popular medieval prayers addressed to the Virgin Mary, the Obsecro te, which begins: "I beseech you, Mary, holy lady, mother of God, most full of piety, most glorious mother, the way for those who stray, the salvation for those who hope in you, virgin before, during, and after birth, come and hasten to my aid and counsel." The jesters in the border bear no relationship to the page's text. They are a part of the whimsical visual vocabulary of late medieval illuminators.

Related Works
Devotion and Desire: Views of Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance (July 25 to October 8, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 25 to October 8, 1995
The Queen of the Angels (August 15 to November 5, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 15 to November 5, 2000
Building the Medieval World: Architecture in Illuminated Manuscripts (March 2 to May 16, 2010)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 2 to May 16, 2010