H = Historiated Initial

The Good Shepherd 

Continuing with the discussion of Medieval Manuscripts and their ‘Initials’ today we speak of the ‘Historiated’ Initial.

A Historiated Initial is an initial (enlarged letter that starts the first word of a passage) containing a scene from the work. It could be an episode from the subject, a portrait of the author, or landscape from the text.

In this scene (to the right) we have a manuscript from Dante showing a scene, found in the story, of a sailing ship.

And below we have King David playing his harp, above, and, as a young man, facing Goliath (lower register)


I can’t resist putting in one of my favorite Historiated Initials.  Well…if it is a book on wine-making, or the evils of drink…