A place for Drachenwald's scribes to hang out, learn, discuss and critique each others work.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Matthew Paris, and the earliest model book I've seen so far!

Happily surfing for 12th and 13th c exemplars, I have found two resources I didn't know about before.

Cambridge Digital Library: Life of St Edward the Confessor by Matthew Paris
A glorious illustrated account of the life of St Edward by the author, calligrapher and illuminator Matthew Paris.

Paris is of course writing in the early 13th century about events from before 1066 in England. So his illuminations show kings, queens, courtiers, warriors and bishops in the height of early 13th c fashion, with the classic full-body mail, surcoats, heater shields and closed-face helms.

Here's his impression of the battle of Stamford Bridge, 1066

Battle of Stamford Bridge, Matthew Paris

The viewer can turn pages, zoom, jmp pages, and download pages individually. Glorious.

Highly recommended.

Second resource: Fitzwilliam Museum Collection, Collections explorer, searching for items under 'illuminated' and 'romanesque', I came up with this MS:

Model book, c 1150-1175, Italy, probably Florence

It's about 5 pages of a model book with Romanesque initials. Here's the blurb (emphasis mine):

These three folios are the earliest pattern sheets for ornamental initials known to survive from the medieval period. They are an important document for the rise of professional artists and their methods of work. The faint sketches in plummet are still visible beneath the ink drawing and the use of a ruler and compasses can be detected in most letters. The shape, style and colour of the initials, figures and scroll-work find close parallels in Florentine manuscripts from the middle through the third quarter of the twelfth century, such as a Bible and a Homiliary (Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, MS Mugel. 2 and London, British Library, MS Harley 7183; Berg 1968, no. 74, figs. 125-31, and no. 106, figs. 132-37; http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/record.asp?MSID=6386&CollID=8&NStart=7183).

Following the link, you get an example of the exemplars in use in Harley 7183 in the British Library:

These are some of the examples I was looking for, of layout work done not on the finished work, but 'worked out' in a model book, and then copied for use in the work.

This makes me feel soooo much better about copying existing work, though I feel I should still know how these pieces were drafted, so I can do it myself.

OTOH, the journeyman-level artists might not have done that drafting - they may have been copyartists, relying on the masters to provide that expert drafting, and they simply, well, copied.
Anyway: I was very excited and please by these finds. Hurrah for libraries continuing to stretch their digital holdings.


Merlyn said...

awesome find! That 1st piece pictured would make a lovely "fighter's scroll" or even a knight scroll.

is it bad that my mouth waters at such images?

Camele0pard said...

The model book is so cool! Thank you!