Thursday, March 31, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Reichenau Gospels, Evangelist portrait of Matthew, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.7, fol. 15v

This Gospel book is believed to come from the Abbey of St. Peters in Reichenau, on the basis of its script, its illumination, and the fact that it contains a dedication image, in which a book is being handed to St Peter. The decoration of the manuscript places it in the so-called Luithar school of Reichenau. Its ornamental motifs compare very closely with those in Munich, Clm. 4453, and its palette is nearly identical to that in the Reichenau manuscripts of the Bamberg Cathedral Treasury. Gold uncials begin each paragraph as well as the introductory words of each chapter, and are a distinct mark of Reichenau manufacture. Its text is written in Caroline minuscule, and it is paleographically related to Bamberg Mss, Bibl. 76 and 22, and also Munich Clm. 4454. As a whole, it is an excellent example of Ottonian book illumination.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Ethiopian Gospels, Evangelist portrait of Mark, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.850, fol. 60v

This large Ethiopian Gospel Book was made in the first half of the sixteenth century and is written in Ge'ez, the traditional liturgical language of the Ethiopian church. Containing eleven full-page miniatures, six canon tables and five elaborately ornamented harags, or headpieces, this manuscript represents the Golden Age of what has been termed the Gunda Gunde style, named after a monastery in the town of Agame. The Gunda Gunde style is characterized by bold blocks of color defined by detailed and often delicate linear motifs. Figures are highly stylized and expressive, while the accompanying canon tables and harags are filled with intricate interlace and geometric forms. The manuscript is exceptionally well preserved, and is an excellent and rare example of Ethiopian illumination from one of its most important artistic centers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Book of Hours, Veronica with the Sudarium, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.165, fol. 107v

Illuminated Manuscript, Book of Hours, Veronica with the Sudarium, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.165, fol. 107v

This mid-fifteenth century illuminated Book of Hours is written entirely in Dutch on fine vellum, and is remarkable for its eighteen grisaille miniatures. The technique, wherein the figures are modeled primarily in a gray wash, became a favorite in the Netherlands, and the hand behind the paintings in this manuscript has been identified with a group of artists known as the "Masters of the Delft Grisailles." This manuscript has been grouped with more than a dozen related works, including New York PML M. 349, London, Victoria and Albert Geo. Reid Ms. 32, Leiden B.P.L. 224, Brussels, BR 21696, Antwerp, Plantein Moretus Ms. 49, and the Hague K.B. Ms. 74 G 35. The manuscript is comprised of 152 folios and is almost completely intact, lacking only two miniatures, and retains its original brown leather binding decorated with mythological beasts and a now illegible inscription. The calendar is for the use of Utrecht, which helps localize its original ownership, as might a mostly erased ownership inscription that has been partially recovered by Marrow. The illumination begins the prayer to the holy face.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Map of Premuda (Premūde Venedīk) island west off the Pag Island (Croatia) from Book on Navigation, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.658, fol.164a

Illuminated Manuscript, Map of Premuda (Premūde Venedīk) island west off the Pag Island (Croatia) from Book on Navigation, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.658, fol.164a

Originally composed in 932 AH / 1525 CE and dedicated to Sultan Süleyman I ("The Magnificent"), this great work by Piri Reis (d. 962 AH / 1555 CE) on navigation was later revised and expanded. The present manuscript, made mostly in the late 11th AH / 17th CE century, is based on the later expanded version with some 240 exquisitely executed maps and portolan charts. They include a world map (fol.41a) with the outline of the Americas, as well as coastlines (bays, capes, peninsulas), islands, mountains and cities of the Mediterranean basin and the Black Sea. The work starts with the description of the coastline of Anatolia and the islands of the Aegean Sea, the Peloponnese peninsula and eastern and western coasts of the Adriatic Sea. It then proceeds to describe the western shores of Italy, southern France, Spain, North Africa, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, western Anatolia, various islands north of Crete, Sea of Marmara, Bosporus and the Black Sea. It ends with a map of the shores of the the Caspian Sea (fol.374a).

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Corvey Gospel fragment, Incipit John's Gospel, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.751, fol. 3v

This manuscript consists of four folios from a Gospel Book that was likely made at the monastery of Corvey in Western Germany during the last quarter of the tenth century. Dating to the reign of Otto I, these pages offer a magnificent example of early Ottonian manuscript illumination. The heavily ornamented pages, which introduce the Gospels of Luke and John, shine with gold and jewel-like colors against dyed purple grounds. These pages combine monumental classicizing square capitals on purple grounds with rich and complex interlace. This fragment contains the opening pages of Luke (fols. 93-94) and John (fols. 137-138) that were originally part of Ms. 10 from the Bibliotheque Municipale in Rheims, a Gospel Book originally owned by the Chapter Library of the Cathedral of Rheims until it was confiscated, along with the rest of the cathedral's manuscripts, during the French Revolution. Related manuscripts include Pierpont Morgan Library Ms. M. 755 and New York Public Library Ms. 1.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011