Saturday, September 24, 2011

Carrow Psalter, Sailors throw Jonah overboard/Jonah in mouth of whale, Walters Manuscript W.34, fol. 131r

This English manuscript was made in East Anglia in the mid-thirteenth-century for a patron with special veneration for St. Olaf, whose life and martyrdom is prominently portrayed in the "Beatus" initial of Psalm 1. Known as the "Carrow Psalter," due to its later use by the nunnery of Carrow near Norwich, it is more accurately described as a Psalter-hours, as it contains the Office of the Dead, the Hours of the Virgin, and Collects. The manuscript is striking for its rich variety of illuminations, including full-page cycles of saints, martyrs, and Biblical scenes, as well as historiated initials within the Psalter, and heraldry added in the fifteenth-century to undecorated initials in the Hours of the Virgin. Especially notable is the miniature portraying the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket, for after Henry VIII found him guilty of treason in 1538, his image was concealed by gluing a page over it, rather than destroying it, and it has since been rediscovered.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Archimedes Palimpsest Exhibition

IMG_9783, originally uploaded by ignitebaltimore.

Opening imminently at The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript, Saints' Lives, Walters Art Museum Ms. W.71, fol. 51r

This manuscript, which was made at or for the Cistercian monastery at Himmerode, Germany, is a compilation of several texts written in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century. The first and third texts, William of St. Thierry's "Life of St. Bernard" and Hugh of St. Victor's "On the Lamentations of Jeremiah," are contemporary but were written separately and then bound together. A third text, Jacques de Vitry's Life of St. Marie d'Oignies, was inserted in between them at a later time. Several additional texts were added to blank pages in the thirteenth century, most notably a letter by Hildegard on the final folio. Many different hands can be identified throughout the manuscript, sometimes changing every few lines, and this variety of scribes is especially evident in the third text. Although the book contains no pictorial illuminations, large ornate foliate initials, drawn in bright green and red, announce the beginning of each chapter.

Ethiopian Manuscript, Gondar Homiliary, Walters Manuscript W.835, fol. 10v

This Homiliary was created in Gondar, Ethiopia during a period of artistic flowering in the late seventeenth century. The Imperial court and its accompanying aristocracy took up permanent residence in Gondar at this time, and the taste of these wealthy patrons for paintings and extensive image cycles is exemplified by this richly illuminated manuscript. The text, a Homiliary focused on the miracles of the Archangel Michael, combines liturgical readings with forty-nine brightly colored renderings of God, St. Michael, and the miracles related in the text. Sections of the manuscript would have been read aloud on monthly feast days of the Archangel, and the images would have punctuated the readings. The artists were likely trained as painters, rather than solely manuscript illuminators, and their art can therefore be linked stylistically to contemporary mural painting.

Here St. Michael Rescues the Faithful from the Flames of Hell.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Psalter, The Fool speaking to God; two hounds chasing a rabbit marginal decoration, Walters Manuscript W.79, fol. 56r

This English Psalter was made for an East Anglian patron at the beginning of the fourteenth century. The original Psalter contains a calendar for adapted Sarum use, the Psalms, Canticles, Litany, and Office of the Dead, with additional prayers in a humanist hand added by a fifteenth century owner. The text is incomplete; about two-dozen leaves have been removed, resulting in missing historiated initials, and several partial Psalms and Canticles. Three extant historiated initials, accompanied by incipits in gold, stand out among a multitude of smaller painted and flourished initials. The majority of the text is written in accomplished textualis prescissa. This Psalter has stylistic and textual connections to the Gorleston Psalter (British Library Add. 49622) and the Ormesby Psalter (Bodl. Lib., Douce MS 366), placing it firmly within the tradition of East Anglian manuscript production in the first half of the fourteenth century.