abendgules: (Romanesque_Initial)
[personal profile] abendgules
This week I discovered the extent of a collection in the British Library that I'd dipped into before, but hadn't examined carefully.

They're a group of books from Arnstein, created in the late 12th century, and they have some of the richest and most cheerful and engaging dragons I've seen.

This group includes the Arnstein Bible, MS Harley 2798 and MS Harley 2799 and its friends the Arnstein Passional MS Harley 2800, Harley 2801 and Harley 2802,  plus assorted hangers on from the same source: Harley 3045, called Hrabanus Maurus, and several volumes of Gregory the Great - clearly so great he went on at great length, or at least was popular to copy: Harley 3052, Harley 3053, and about four other Gregories that have only a couple of interesting figures online.

I'd used one figure from this group before, and while I'd printed off several images from the first bible, for some reason now these figures and shapes have really caught my eye, and I'm thinking more about how to do them effectively.

The calligraphy hand in the first book is my favourite - it's all 'protogothic' but while the artist is identified as the same, I don't think the same scribe worked on all of these. The hand in the Passional, book one, has a different letter height, and looks blockier and stiffer to me - it's still the same letterforms, but I think a different person was behind the pen.

Here's the initial I used this winter: a cheerful dragon for a U/V letter, perfect for Sir Vitus as recipient. I like him so much I may use him again. Teh clicky takes you to the big version...

Zoomorphic initial

This is what has prompted my question to the Dragon scribes list about how to draw spirals: I'm certain there's a knack to it, I just don't know it yet.

So I've started an A-Z index of letters for this group of manuscripts, copying the URLs for the large images, sometimes with notes. There's a glut of Ps, probably fault of St. Paul. But enough Ds, Ms and Fs to keep me busy for years.

There's even some initials that are a bit of a mystery - there's not enough context to guess what they should be, no matter how funky they look.

Any guesses? M? O?

Zoomorphic initial

Here's another; Q on its side? D tipped over backwards? scribal error turned into decorative filigree?

Decorated initial

This could be an H, an I or J, or K: could work for any of them...
Decorated initial

Here's a T (pretty obvious) - what's less obvious is that the critters appear to be hanging the man. The comments say the animals are sheep, but they could just as easily be goats, I think.

Inhabited initial

For the Hbranus Maurus, the artwork is in the same style, but perhaps the patron spent more, or the artist got a grant from the Arts Council or something - the colours are bold, crisp, deep where before they were mid-tone, and sometimes uncoloured. It also includes several acrostics (poems where the lines downward form text as well as across).

Text page with initial

See? deeper hues, and three shades of each colour to create depth. And gold, some of them. And silver, which is unusual. And external penwork (dots, outlines). And whitework. Each line-item of art style costs more.  The later ones also appear to have fewer dragons, and more foliage instead.

And yet, I like the light-touch versions of the same shapes and foliates better somehow. Or at least, I don't automatically love the full-fat painted-in ones most.

Anyway: I'm enchanted. It's hard to feel angry when looking at great art.

Date: 2013-10-19 07:54 pm (UTC)
ext_143250: 1911 Mystery lady (Mystery)
From: [identity profile] xrian.livejournal.com
AQ bit more context is always helpful in figuring out strange letters. The T, for instance, is the first letter of "Tempore", the H appears to be the first letter of "hic" (an extremely common word).

The first letter could well be an M, the beginning (it appears) of "Mons sapien?a" (sapienta), which I would guess to be the Mountain of Knowledge or Wisdom. "Oons" on the other hand is an unlikely reading.

My guess for the "Mystery Q" is that it's likely an O -- most likely to be a vowel since the next couple of letters in the word (in red) are "sc". I can't tell what the rest of the word is, but Osc-- something is plausible, whereas Dsc- and Qsc- don't fit. (Wild guess: Oscul- something, which would have something to do with kissing -- Song of Songs?)

Date: 2013-10-20 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badgersandjam.livejournal.com
The second one is an O (omnis) and the third one is OR (Ora)

Date: 2013-10-20 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badgersandjam.livejournal.com
Oh, and the one after the OR is an H (Hic)

Date: 2013-10-21 11:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aryanhwy.livejournal.com
The H/I/J/K one is an "H"; the word is "hic".

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