The J. Paul Getty Museum

Initial D: Three Men before a Judge

Object Details


Initial D: Three Men before a Judge



Michael Lupi de Çandiu (Spanish, active Pamplona, Spain 1297 - 1305)




Northeastern Spain, Spain (Place Created)


about 1290 - 1310


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig XIV 6 (83.MQ.165), fol. 135v


Leaf: 36.5 × 24 cm (14 3/8 × 9 7/16 in.)

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Object Description

This section of the laws of Aragon, commissioned by King James I of Aragon and Catalonia, Spain, opens with a large initial. This letter D, almost unrecognizable to the modern eye because of the uncial script, is known as a historiated initial. Inside the initial's castlelike structure, three men stand before a crowned judge pleading their cases. The scene may represent one of the frivolous lawsuits discussed in the text below. Around this formal, carefully composed scene, the artist's creativity breaks free in the playfulness of the scrollwork, as seen in the vine that transforms itself into the hooded musician below the letter D. The arabesques of the vines and the alternation of strong hues of red, blue, and gold behind the initial give the image vibrancy. Adding a note of elegance, the figures move gracefully with a gentle sway and stylized gestures, expressing the delicacy of aristocratic manners so prized in European court culture. While the artist may have been French or French-trained, he probably worked on the manuscript in northeastern Spain.

Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (July 1 to September 30, 1984)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 1 to September 30, 1984
Medieval Beasts (May 1 to July 29, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 29, 2007