Epiphany, January 6 (Lombardy, 1490-1510)
April 24, 2009
Single leaf from a gradual:
Initial E with the Adoration of the Magi, January 6
Lombardy, Italy, 1490-1510
Parchment with ink, paint, and gold
This initial begins the introit for the Feast of the Epiphany: Ecce advenit Dominator Domine (Behold, He is come, the Lord the Ruler).
The leaf shown here has perspective and detail that is not displayed in earlier illustration processes. The Star in the East is prominent in the picture, as is one of the adoring kings, who is quite literally in the very center of the initial. However, attention is appropriately paid by all other figures in the foreground to the baby Jesus. There is a ship in the background, which might signify an escape plan: God warned them in a dream “that they should not return to Herod, they [should depart] into their own country another way” (Matthew 2:1). The initial is clearly a product of the early Renaissance period, as the artist has clothed the subjects of this decoration with heavy gowns and sleeves of the 15th century, donned the soldiers in the background with armor of that period, and painted a ship with a 15th-century gallery and mast.
Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 71:15