The section of this breviary from Montecassino devoted to the Psalms opens with a full-page inhabited initial B introducing Psalm 1.

Tightly controlled, inward-moving spirals form the curves of the initial B; within the armature of the letter, complex interlace and wildly spiraling tendrils enliven the geometry of its structure. The illuminator, possibly the scribe Sigenulfus mentioned in a prayer in the manuscript, took delight in the variation of colors and the contrast of substantial forms and thinner lines, regular geometric shapes and organic vines. Between the various vines and ribbons, dogs twist around themselves to bite leaves, other dogs, and even their own bodies.


  • Title: Inhabited Initial B
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1153
  • Location Created: Montecassino, Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 19.2 × 13.2 cm (7 9/16 × 5 3/16 in.)
  • Type: Folio
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 83.ML.97.140v
  • Culture: Italian
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig IX 1, fol. 140v
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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