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The Miracle of the Stater
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Unknown
Anglo-Saxon, possibly Canterbury, about 1000
Tempera colors and gold leaf on parchment
12 1/8 x 7 7/8 in.
MS. 9, LEAF 2

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The two scenes of this miniature from a Gospel book show three distinct moments in the story of the Miracle of the Stater, the fulfillment of one of Jesus' prophecies. According to the story as recounted in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told Saint Peter, who was in need of money for a tax, that if he cast his hook into the sea, he would find a stater, or coin, in the mouth of the first fish he caught. In the upper section of the miniature, Jesus seems both to instruct Peter, gesturing to him with a pointed finger in a medieval convention used to indicate speech, and to receive the stater from him. In the scene below, Peter actually catches the fish. Thus, the illuminator presented a narrative that unexpectedly moves from the upper scene to the lower and then back up. The miniature's liveliness is further heightened by the agitated lines of the artist's drawing, evident especially in the surface of the water and the wriggling fish on Peter's hook.