Vienna Moralized Bible Workshop
Single Leaf from a Latin Bible:
Initial M: St. Paul with a Sword and a Book,
Ink, tempera, and burnished gold on vellum
The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection [Cat. no. 1]
Introducing St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, the text reads: Multifariam et multis modis olim Deus loquens patribus in prophetis (In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets). The historiated initial "M" shows St. Paul holding the instrument of his martyrdom, a sword, in his right hand. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded outside the gates of Rome. In his left hand the saint holds a book, indicating that he is the author of the Epistles of the New Testament. A Roman citizen and a missionary of Christianity, Paul wrote his Epistle to the Hebrews to a community of Hebrew-Christians.
Of the many manuscript workshops active in Paris between about 1200 and 1250, only a handful have been identified by actual name. The figural style of the Vienna Moralized Bible Workshop is noted for its treatment of hair and eyes, the red dots of the cheeks, and the draperies with "hairpin" folds. The artist has resourcefully drawn his inspiration from the zoomorphic (animal-shaped) initials of the previous century by converting the second arch of the "M" into a winged dragon.
Pair of Leaves from a Latin Bible:
Initial I: Entwined Beast and Serpent (opening of Book of Ruth) and Initial E: Entwined Lion and Serpents (opening of the Third Book of Kings), about 1225-50
Ink and tempera on vellum