A book of hours created in the last quarter of the 15th century, probably used by Giovanni Colonna. More information can be found here.
This manuscript has italian white vine decoration throughout it. This makes sense as it was created in Italy, likely in Rome. There are a few odd things about it though.
The gold seems to smudge and rub off on the pages opposite it. This is an invariable pattern throughout the book. Above is 7r. Here is what 6v looks like.
A side by side comparison will help.
This smudging was the cause for me to ask those knowledgeable in the arts of illumination and in gold smelting etc for their opinions. Here is what we came up with for better or worse. First of all is that gold? Probably. It isn’t very pure gold then is it? Probably not. It may have copper in it or other impurities as well or instead. We do know that the smelting process to get to 24 karat gold was known in this time. So the question becomes are the impurities purposeful or just from bad smelting? Now, we shouldn’t let this matter take away from our opinion of the beauty of this work. But we should keep in mind that pure gold doesn’t tarnish and that when you see smudges like these opposite the gold, the gold simply is of a lower karat gold.
We see other interesting things in this manuscript as well.
For example here on 10v we see some more of the beautiful purple filigree work.
Here we can see red filigree work and purple filigree work. Notice something interesting? The purple filigree pen work is thinner than the red.
We’re seeing a lot of pen work here. The lettering of course is done by pen but probably so is the filigree work, though it could be with a very thin paintbrush. So why can the purple ink lines be thinner than the red lines? Of course the pen or paintbrush could have been larger, but what about the ink itself? Do the qualities of the purple ink lend themselves to hair thin lines when the red ink simple can’t go on that thin? Most likely we can’t know for certain but perhaps some colored ink making will be in my future to help answer the question.
As a calligrapher I tried very hard to not drool over the calligraphy in this manuscript. I must have done a good job as I retained my visitor privileges. This is 130r and it is a beautiful page. Not only for the red and purple filigree work but also for the script.
I suppose we all know someone who could resemble one of the figures in this miniature.
A note of caution can be learned from this manuscript as well. Keep your work area clean and pay attention to where you ink is going!