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Girolamo da Cremona
Italian, Mantua, about 1460 - 1470
Tempera and gold paint on parchment
7 15/16 x 5 1/16 in.

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Aligned with the figure of the Virgin Mary, the dove of the Holy Spirit descends toward the apostles, who hold their hands folded together or outspread in a variety of positions of prayer. A sense of serenity and calm pervades this depiction of the Pentecost.

Although only eight inches tall, this miniature has an impressive monumentality. The illuminator Girolamo da Cremona used the compositional and mathematical principles employed by fifteenth-century painters who worked on a larger scale. The miniature is symmetrically organized around the clear central axis of the Virgin and the dove: windows flank the dove, an equal number of apostles kneel in parallel rows, and candlesticks and books on the mantelpiece frame the Virgin. To relieve the monotony of the strict symmetry, the artist varied details such as the colors of the apostles' robes, the men's gestures, and the arrangement of books around the candles. Similarly, an open window opposes a closed one.

The Pentecost miniature was made for a liturgical book or a book of private devotion. No other part of the manuscript has come to light.