Two columns of Latin text fill this page taken from a bible manuscript. A painting in a gold rectangular frame is located in the lower right column. An angel descends from a blue semicircular disc in the upper right corner of the painting and grasps a larger figure by the hair with both hands. This second figure holds a jug in his left hand and a plate with bread in his right. A third figure, dressed in a white robe, reaches up toward this larger figure from an enclosure below. He appears against a black background and four gray animal heads overlap his torso.
This manuscript page, taken from a bible, contains the prologue and opening text of the Book of Daniel. A diminutive rectangular painting marks the beginning of the book itself in the lower right column of text. Daniel, clothed in a white robe, appears at the bottom of this image within a dark enclosure surrounded by four lions. Above the enclosure stands the larger figure of the prophet Habakuk holding a jug of water and a plate of bread. With the help of an angel who suspends him by his hair, Habakuk miraculously delivers the sustaining food to Daniel.
As the sacred text of the Christian faith, the Bible was used continuously throughout the Middle Ages. By the 12th century, every monastery could be expected to own a Bible, typically produced in the monastic scriptorium, or scribal workshop, though often decorated by professional, lay artists working in the monastery. By the 13th century, professional scribes working in urban workshops, produced Bibles for preachers, scholars, and university students.
The demand for smaller and more affordable Bibles, such as this one, led to economical and ingenious use of the page. In this densely inscribed leaf, the rubrics (section headings so called because they are in red ink), are neatly and tightly integrated into the main text. At the bottom of the second column of text, the historiated initial "I" (which tells a story, or "history") shows the prophet Habakkuk—with an angel lifting him by the hair of his head—bringing food and drink to Daniel in the lions’ den.
Exhibition label text, collections gallery, by Curator Annette Dixon, April 2001
The demand for smaller and more affordable Bibles led to ingenious and economical use of teh page, as in rubrics (section headings) which are neatly integrated into the main text. The beginning of the Book of Daniel is marked by a historiated initial "I" showing Habakkuk, assisted by an angel, bringing food and drink to Daniel in the lions' den.
This page from a manuscript features two columns of text written in Armenian. An animal-shaped initial, composed of two stylized birds pecking one another, appears in the lower right column. The lower left margin is decorated with a sidebar that elegantly combines geometric and plant motifs. The decorative elements are painted in pink and blue with touches of reddish orange.
This leaf from a Bible contains part of the Gospel of Matthew written in Armenian and arranged in two columns. The initial in the lower right column in the shape of two pecking birds calls attention to the beginning of a new section within the text. The graceful curved forms of this initial and the ornamental sidebar in the left margin echo the flowing rhythm of the handwritten script.
This manuscript leaf contains a single column of text in Latin surrounded by generous margins on three sides. Pen-flourished initials elaborated with delicate penwork, colored red and blue alternating with gold and purple, mark the beginning of each verse along the left edge of the text column. Five line-fillers, long linear elements colored blue and gold, complete the closing line of each verse and preserve the regular shape of the text block.
This manuscript page, which contains a portion of Psalm 26, comes from either a psalter, a book containing only the biblical psalms, or a book of hours, a type of personal devotional manuscript that enjoyed widespread popularity from the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries and contained sets of daily prayers that often included psalms. The delicate and understated decoration of this page structures the text by emphasizing the beginning and end of each verse, while also creating a sense of rhythm and visual balance.
This leaf from a manuscript contains seven lines of Latin text with musical notation. The initial letter, "C," of the opening word "Confessio" is made from a curved vegetal form. The text is preceded by a painted miniature in a circular frame that is, in turn, enclosed by a golden square. The miniature depicts a man with a tonsure and a golden halo standing in a verdant landscape. He holds a palm leaf in his left hand and rests his right hand on a grill. The left and upper margins of the page are decorated with green and pink leaves and flowers and small gold circles.
This manuscript page comes from a gradual, or choir book, used for the performance of the Catholic mass. The haloed figure standing in a verdant landscape at the top of the page is St. Lawrence, holding the grill on which he was roasted to death and the palm leaf that signified his martrydom. The music that accompanies this miniature painting was sung at the opening of the mass held every August 10th to commemorate his death. The verso contains a scribal inscription or colophon in which the Ludovico de Gaci, who both wrote and illuminated the manuscript, gives his name, the date 10 April 1489 when the work was completed, and the name of the patron, the Franciscan friar Franciscus de Bolzano.
March 28, 2009
On the back of this manuscript leaf, Ludovico de Gaci notes that he both wrote and illustrated the choir book from which the leaf was later taken. He records that he completed the work on April 10, 1489, for Franciscus de Bolzano, a Franciscan friar, for use in the convent of Belluno located in the Italian Alps. On the front of the page, de Gaci painted Saint Lawrence standing in a verdant landscape, resting his hand upon the grill on which he was roasted to death and holding a palm leaf that signifies his martyrdom. The brilliantly colored illustration set within a gold frame marks the beginning of the music that opened the mass held every August 10th to commemorate Saint Lawrence’s death.