Leaf with Initial from a Latin Bible: Initial M: St. Paul with a Sword and a Book

Leaf with Initial from a Latin Bible: Initial M: St. Paul with a Sword and a Book

c. 1220

Ink, tempera and burnished gold on vellum

Leaf: 21.9 x 14.3 cm (8 5/8 x 5 5/8 in.)

The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection 2011.51

Location

Description

Introducing Saint Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, the text reads: Multifariam et multis modis olim Deus loquens patribus in prophetis (In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets). The historiated initial M shows Saint Paul holding a sword, the instrument of his martyrdom, in his right hand. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded outside the gates of Rome. In his left hand he holds a book, indicating that he is the author of the Epistles of the New Testament. A Roman citizen and Christian missionary, Paul wrote his Epistle to the Hebrews to a community of Hebrew Christians. Of the many manuscript workshops active in Paris between about 1200 and 1250, only a handful have been identified by actual name. The figural style of the Vienna Moralized Bible Workshop is noted for its treatment of hair and eyes, the red dots of the cheeks, and the draperies with hairpin folds. The artist has drawn his inspiration from the animal-shaped initials of the previous century by converting the second arch of the M into a winged dragon.

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