Mar 12, 2008

Cutting from an Antiphonary: Initial A[spiciens a longe]: The Tree of Jesse

Cutting from an Antiphonary: Initial A[spiciens a longe]: The Tree of Jesse

c. 1115-1125

Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum

Sheet: 18 x 16 cm (7 1/16 x 6 5/16 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1949.202



This complex initial "A" is formed of meandering plant tendrils, neatly and symmetrically placed at the center of a succession of square frames to which the letter is securely attached above and below. The whole forms a Tree of Jesse showing Christ's ancestors beginning with King David (bottom). The text would have begun, "Long have I been watching...." These are the words of Isaiah, who foresaw the coming of Christ. Isaiah's prophecies are the basis for the representations of the Tree of Jesse, often seen in medieval art.

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