Initial V: The Ascension

Lorenzo Monaco, Zanobi di Benedetto Strozzi, and Battista di Biagio Sanguinidesigned about 1410; completed about 1431

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

The twelve apostles gather at the center of this letter V and gaze up in amazement at Christ, who rises into heaven on a blue cloud. The upward sweeping motion of the colorful acanthus leaves that climb up the form of the letter reflects and enhances Christ's movement. While the figures' gestures and drapery are naturalistically portrayed, the scene is set against a highly polished gold background, which lends it an otherworldly feeling.

This elaborate initial, which originally began the chant for the feast of the Ascension, came from a large gradual made for the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence, of which Lorenzo Monaco, the designer of this image, was a member. Zanobi di Benedetto Strozzi and Battista di Biagio Sanguini probably painted this initial more than a decade later.


  • Title: Initial V: The Ascension
  • Creator: Lorenzo Monaco, Zanobi di Benedetto Strozzi, Battista di Biagio Sanguini
  • Date Created: designed about 1410; completed about 1431
  • Location Created: Florence, Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 40.2 × 32.7 cm (15 13/16 × 12 7/8 in.)
  • Type: Detached leaf
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera and gold on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 2003.104.recto
  • Culture: Italian
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 78, recto
  • Creator Display Name: Designed by Lorenzo Monaco (Italian, about 1370 - 1423 or 1424) and completed by Zanobi di Benedetto Strozzi (Italian, 1412 - 1468) and Battista di Biagio Sanguini (Italian, 1393 - 1451)
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps