Friday, April 22, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Compendium of computistical texts, Above: Diagram of the harmony of the year and seasons; Below: Diagram of the harmony of the elements, seasons, and humors, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.73, fol. 8r

Created in England in the late twelfth century, this manuscript was intended to be a scientific textbook for monks. The manuscript is brief at nine folios, and was designed as a compendium of cosmographical knowledge drawn from early Christian writers such as Bede and Isidore, as well as the later Abbo of Fleury. Those writers, in turn, drew on classical sources like Pliny the Elder for their knowledge, but adapted it to be understood through the filter of Christianity. The twenty complex diagrams that accompany the texts in this pamphlet help illustrate them, and include visualizations of the heavens and earth, seasons, winds, tides, and the zodiac, as well as demonstrations of how these things relate to man. Although the exact grouping of texts and diagrams here is unique, the manuscript is related to other scientific compilations from this era, such as British Library, Royal Ms. 13 A.XI, Cotton Ms. Tiberius E.IV, and Oxford, St. John's College, Ms. 17.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Melk Missal, Crucifixion, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.33, fol. 132v

This missal, which dates to the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, was made for the Benedictine abbey of Melk or Seitenstetten in Upper Austria, as indicated by the inclusion of local saints and liturgy. The surviving volume of a multi-volume missal, the book contains only the "Summer Part," with the Temporal running from Holy Saturday through the Sunday after Trinity Sunday, and the Sanctoral beginning with the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and ending with St. Andrew. The manuscript lacks a calender, an element that was most likely included in one of the other volumes. Most notable about the manuscript are its skilled pen drawings, including two full-page miniatures depicting Christ in Majesty and the Crucifixion, as well as sixteen ornate initals, three of which are by the artist known as Gottschalk of Lambach. The binding, although later and dating to the fifteenth century, is also notable, for it contains inscriptions impressed with movable type.