Leaf from a Latin Bible: Initial A and Initial A: Judith Beheading Holofernes

Leaf from a Latin Bible: Initial A and Initial A: Judith Beheading Holofernes

c. 1230–1240

circle or workshop of Leber Group


Ink and tempera on vellum

Each leaf: 14.8 x 10.4 cm (5 13/16 x 4 1/8 in.)

The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection 2005.207



This pair of leaves survives with at least 13 sister leaves from the same Bible that are now in other collections. Their miniatures have been variously assigned to the Dominican Group, the Dominican Painter, and the Leber Workshop. This lack of precision suggests the difficulty often encountered in isolating individual styles in the highly formalized milieu of 13th-century Paris. The ornament, figure style, and facial details of the initials bear closest comparison with manuscripts produced in a workshop active in Paris known as the Leber Group. With its precise ornamental vocabulary, the Leber Group's style may be identified by the elaborate outgrowths extending into the margins from the initials (known as ascenders and descenders). These are characterized by cusped edges and spiraling terminals, lotus petals, and meandering hybridized animal forms, the latter often terminating in winged, dragon-like creatures. Compartmentalized initials, featuring multiple scenes, are also commonly found in manuscripts of the Leber Group.

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