Initial G: Saint Blaise
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Master of the Murano Gradual
Italian, Venice, about 1450 - 1460
Tempera and gold on parchment
6 3/16 x 4 3/4 in.

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In this initial, the face of Saint Blaise is sharply defined, craggy, and hard-edged, yet the powder blue robe and the fine tooled lines in the gold ground lend the monumental figure a kind of ethereal delicacy. These contrasting qualities of exaggerated expression and refined beauty inform the illumination style of the work's artist, the Master of the Murano Gradual. This initial was probably made for the manuscript that gives the Master his name, a gradual made for the Camaldolese monastery of San Mattia in Murano. Saint Blaise, a fourth-century bishop in Armenia, was martyred with a wool carder's brush, the red object he holds in his hand in the illumination.