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Arthurian Romances

Arthurian Romances

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Date: s. XIII^^ex [ca. 1275-1300]
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Description:
Script: Written in elegant gothic textura by one scribe, with a few interlinear corrections in later hands (14th and 15th centuries).
The decoration of this lavishly illuminated manuscript consists of seventy-seven large column miniatures, fifty-one smaller miniatures, and thirty-six historiated initials. Miniatures and historiated initials by at least two artists, the scale and quality of whose work distinguish the manuscript from contemporary and most fourteenth-century Arthurian manuscripts.
Large miniatures, 12- to 11-lines, one column, framed and usually divided into two registers by thin bands, gold, red and/or blue with white highlights, edged in black, sometimes with arched canopies, often with architectural elements protruding (a few frames composed of thicker bands); figures in black pen against burnished gold (occasionally with painted gold diaperwork), blue or black grounds; chief colors: light blue, dark blue, grey, light brown, white, maroon, with some orange, green and gold. Borders on folios with large miniatures of a variety and inventiveness that defy strict classification: gold, red, and blue bands, edged in black, also running between, below and/or above text columns, terminating in dragons, dragon or human heads, groteques or, most commonly, floral spirals, some with frets, blue and red with white highlights and orange and green dots, against gold, blue and/or maroon cusped grounds, often with pinwheel-like projections. The borders are populated with magnificent grotesques and marginalia in the same style as the miniatures, many of them of a narrative or satirical character; some of these incorporate coats of arms.
Small miniatures, 5- to 6-line, 1/2 text column, often with a 2-line initial inserted in upper right corner, otherwise as above, with border decoration on a smaller scale and unattached to miniature. Historiated initials, 5-line (letters without ascenders or descenders) to 13-line, red and/or blue, with geometric motifs in paler shades of red and blue, white, with touches of orange, against gold grounds, edged in black, with long dragon and floral serifs, as above, against cusped gold grounds; figures in same style as miniatures, against gold grounds.
Illuminated initials, 3- to 1-line, gold, with globular serifs, edged thickly in black, against irregular red and blue grounds, also edged in black, with white floral filigree or heraldic birds, in white; flowers touched in with orange. On folios without miniatures (except ff. 2v-8v), a thin gold band runs along the left side of each text column, interrupted by initials, with a thin red pen-line on either side; adjacent, to the left, a column of I's each 3-line and blue and red alternately, with small spiral and curlicue flourishes, terminating in large flourishes in red or blue on alternate openings, each with pinwheel-like arms projecting from a central spiral with small petals and flourishes in blue and red; design of the terminal flourishes varies from one gathering to another; some with naturalistic leaves and flowers or fleurs-de-lis; terminals on ff. 1v-2r by the same hand as penwork initials on those folios. Line-fillers of varying design: two pairs of blue and red tapering bands, heraldically arranged and joined at center by red flower; undulating red line with red and/or blue balls under and over each crest and trough; red zigzag with blue infilling and spiral flourishes at terminals; alternating red and blue flowers; red and blue dots, etc.
Some folios stained; f. 253 slashed in margin; f. 361 cut right across and glued together.
Binding: 2003. Full alum-tawed goatskin. See conservation treatment report for full description. Former binding stored in separate box: 18th century. Light brown calf blind- and gold-tooled. Sewing holes in inner margins.
Abstract:
Lavishly illuminated manuscript consisting of 77 large column miniatures, 51 smaller miniatures, and 36 historiated initials. Miniatures and historiated initials by at least two artists, the scale and quality of whose work distinguish the manuscript from contemporary and most fourteenth-century Arthurian manuscripts.
Manuscript on parchment of 1) Le livre de Lancelot du Lac, part III. 2) La queste del Saint Graal. 3) La mort au Roy Artus.
Physical Description:
1 vol.
color illustrations
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Curatorial Area: Beinecke Library
Exhibition Note:
Teaching resource: Barbara A. Shailor, Medieval Studies
Catalog Record:
Extent of Digitization:
Source Digital Format:
High Resolution (image/tiff)
Object ID: 2004282
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