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In the Gallery: Gothic Manuscript Page of Jonah & the Whale, c. 1250

Apr

30

Written by Jocelyn Boigenzahn, Curatorial Intern

This illuminated leaf comes from the Old Testament of a Latin Bible with a historiated initial of the Prophet Jonah near the bottom of the right column.  This nine-line tall historiated initial “E” or enlarged letter contains a picture shows Jonah praying in the whale’s mouth with a synagogue in the upper part of the initial.

Artist unknown (French),Gothic Manuscript Page:  Jonah & the Whale, c. 1250, Tempera and Ink on Vellum, 8.5 x 6 1/8 in., Gift of Mrs. Ruth Pruitt Phillips, AG.1993.1.1.

Artist unknown (French),Gothic Manuscript Page: Jonah & the Whale, c. 1250, Tempera and Ink on Vellum, 8.5 x 6 1/8 in., Gift of Mrs. Ruth Pruitt Phillips, AG.1993.1.1.

Along with this large starting point ornamentation, there are two ornamented initials with marginal extensions  found on this leaf, painted in deep blue, pink, and burnished gold, with curling stems.

The illumination of this leaf suggest that is may have come from the workshop of the Dominican painter, who Robert Branner called “a rare and original painter” and who was one of the earliest miniaturists to invest his figures with feelings and to give them personalities of their own.

This invested emotional quality can be seen with close observation of the facial expression of Jonah while praying to the Lord for deliverance from the whale.

Another interesting feature to note is the responses of the Lord are here written in red ink, a tradition maintained in many Bibles used today.

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