The J. Paul Getty Museum

Initial S: A Woman Leaving Her Husband's House

Object Details

Title:

Initial S: A Woman Leaving Her Husband's House

Artists/Makers:

Unknown

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

Culture:

Spanish

Place:

Northeastern Spain, Spain (Place Created)

Date:

about 1290 - 1310

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig XIV 6 (83.MQ.165), fol. 207

Dimensions:

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

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Object Description

This historiated initial S opens a chapter dealing with the rights of a husband or wife to household property. A woman leaves her husband, taking with her a curtain. She appears three times, removing the red drape at the left, then exiting the house, and finally leaning over the drape in her new home at the far right. According to the text, if a woman leaves her husband, he has the legal right to take back both her and his possessions. In the center of the composition, the abandoned husband, accompanied by a bondsman, speaks to the head of the woman's new household about reclaiming his property.

The artist astutely used color to make associations among the characters. The husband's clothing and his property are red, while the other man is shown in blue. The wife wears both colors, indicating her conflicted legal status. A woman of the Middle Ages spent much of her life under the guardianship of a man, first her father and then her husband, severely limiting her personal legal rights and economic power.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Picturing the Medieval Family (May 4 to July 18, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 4 to July 18, 1999