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Opening for the Book of Daniel: Anno tercio, from the Winchester Bible


Not on view

The intial “A” stands for for Anno tercio (“In the third year”). Daniel is taken from Jerusalem to the court of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Daniel stands at right with other youths before the king’s table. He rejects the cup of Nebuchadnezzar’s wine. The initial “A” frames the scene, the table forming its crossbar.
The Master of the Morgan Leaf designed and painted at least six initials in the Bible, including this one, mostly in volume two. His distinctly classicizing outlook utilizes a softer palette, tending toward pastels rather than intense jewel-like colors as seen in the Master of the Leaping Figures’ work. He excelled at a naturalistic approach to figures with carefully modeled faces. His painting epitomizes the Byzantine-inspired classical style about 1200 and the transmission of that style to England and beyond. The great full-page leaf from the J. Pierpont Morgan Library, shown nearby, is his crowning achievement and one of the commanding masterpieces of the Middle Ages.

Opening for the Book of Daniel: Anno tercio, from the Winchester Bible, Tempera and gold leaf on parchment, British

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