Initial D: Three Men before a Judge

Unknown and Michael Lupi de Çandiuabout 1290–1310

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

This section of the laws of Aragon, commissioned by King James I of Aragon and Catalonia, Spain, opens with a large initial. This letter D, almost unrecognizable to the modern eye because of the uncial script, is known as a historiated initial. Inside the initial's castlelike structure, three men stand before a crowned judge pleading their cases. The scene may represent one of the frivolous lawsuits discussed in the text below. Around this formal, carefully composed scene, the artist's creativity breaks free in the playfulness of the scrollwork, as seen in the vine that transforms itself into the hooded musician below the letter D. The arabesques of the vines and the alternation of strong hues of red, blue, and gold behind the initial give the image vibrancy. Adding a note of elegance, the figures move gracefully with a gentle sway and stylized gestures, expressing the delicacy of aristocratic manners so prized in European court culture. While the artist may have been French or French-trained, he probably worked on the manuscript in northeastern Spain.


  • Title: Initial D: Three Men before a Judge
  • Creator: Unknown, Michael Lupi de Çandiu
  • Date Created: about 1290–1310
  • Location Created: Northeastern Spain, Spain
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 36.5 × 24 cm (14 3/8 × 9 7/16 in.)
  • Type: Folio
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 83.MQ.165.135v
  • Culture: Spanish
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig XIV 6, fol. 135v
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown Michael Lupi de Çandiu (Spanish, active Pamplona, Spain 1297 - 1305)
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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