Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Conrad of Hirsau's Speculum Virginum, Tree of Virtues, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.72, fol. 26r

This manuscript, written at the Cistercian abbey of Himmerode in Germany in the early thirteenth century, is one of twenty-two surviving Latin copies of the Speculum Virginum, or Mirror for Virgins. Attributed to Conrad of Hirsau, the text was written in the first half of the twelfth century as a guide for nuns, and offered them theological lessons in the form of a hypothetical conversation between a teacher, Peregrinus, and his student, Theodora. The twelve illustrations in the manuscript portray the protagonists as well as the mystical visions and diagrams they discuss in the text. The large, expressive pen drawings bring the text to life, and are an excellent example of German art of this period.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, De Rectoribus Christianis, Decorated Initial, Walters Art Museum, Ms W.12, fol. 9v

Created in the mid-twelfth century in Germany, this manuscript contains the much earlier writings of the Irish scholar Sedulius Scotus. Writing in the mid-ninth century at St. Lambert in Liege, Scotus famously penned this treatise on the duties and ideals of the Christian king or prince, and it is the earliest version of a genre that would become popular in the later medieval and Renaissance periods, often known as "Mirrors for Princes." This manuscript is the second oldest copy of Scotus' treatise known, the earliest being the ninth century Bremen Stadtbibliothek C. 36. The text is virtually complete, missing only its first and last folios, and is written in a clear Romanesque Caroline script. The nine inhabited initials, which include dragons and cranes, as well as the seven foliate initials have been left unfinished.

Illuminated Manuscript, Koran, Incipit, Walters Art Museum, Ms W.563, fol. 9b

This large-format, illuminated Timurid copy of the Qur’an is believed to have been produced in Northern India in the ninth century AH / fifteenth CE. The manuscript opens with a series of illuminated frontispieces. The main text is written in a large vocalized polychrome muḥaqqaq script. Marginal explanations of the readings of particular words and phrases are in thuluth and naskh scripts, and there is interlinear Persian translation in red naskh script. The fore-edge flap of the gold-tooled, brown leather binding is inscribed with verses 77 through 80 from Chapter 56 (Sūrat al-wāqiʿah). The seal of Sultan Bayezid II (1481-1512 CE) appears on fol. 8a. There is an erased bequest (waqf) statement and stamp of Sultan ʿUthmān Khān (1027-31 CE) on fol. 3a.