Mar 13, 2008

Fragment of an Antiphonary with Historiated Initial (S): The Stoning of St. Stephen

Fragment of an Antiphonary with Historiated Initial (S): The Stoning of St. Stephen

c. 1370-1372

Nicolò da Bologna

(Italian, c. 1325-1403)

Ink, tempera, and gold on parchment

Sheet: 33 x 33 cm (13 x 13 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1951.446



Saint Stephen is honored as the Christian church's first martyr. The illuminator of this initial has crowded the scene of the saint's death within the interior space of the letter S. Stephen emerges from the lower curve as his tormentors hurl stones from above. The center curve of the letter passes between figures to suggest a barrier. The activity of the initial's artist, Nicolò da Bologna, is well documented in Bologna's archives. By the late 1380s he enjoyed the appointment of illuminator to the city. Nicolò and his workshop were frequently called upon to provide the decoration for a large number of corporate registers and statute books in the city, as well as liturgical books for Bologna's various churches.

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