Initial E: Jonah Cast into the Sea

Object Details


Initial E: Jonah Cast into the Sea






Lille (probably), France (Place created)


about 1270


Tempera colors, black ink, and gold leaf on parchment


Leaf: 47 x 32.2 cm (18 1/2 x 12 11/16 in.)

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Beginning the section of the Bible concerned with the prophet Jonah, the initial E houses a depiction of the most memorable event of his story. Jonah disobeyed the Lord's command to go to Nineveh and instead boarded a boat, which was then caught in a ferocious storm. Drawing lots to divine the cause of the storm, the sailors determined that God's rage at Jonah's disobedience had brought it on.

In the Bible's letter E, two sailors throw the prophet overboard and into the mouth of an enormous fish. The artist was clearly interested in decorative pattern, but he or she was also concerned with naturalistic visual effects, such as the transparency of the water, through which the boat, the fish, and Jonah himself can be seen.

Related Works
Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts (1908)
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club (London), 1908
The Glory of the Gothic Page (December 16, 2003 to March 7, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 2003 to March 7, 2004