27 - 28 June 2006
Historiated initial S, a cutting from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[France, late 12th century]
110 x 62mm. The initial stave is made up of a curled dragon's body in burnished gold with the head of a bearded man in a pointed green hat, his cheeks depicted with red dots, the infill inhabited by a dragon-like creature with an orange body and blue wings, and below, a green monster with legs in orange, both creatures heightened in white on a grey/blue wash ground, the whole on a ground of blue with small white dot decoration; on the verso, 16 lines of text in black ink in a protogothic bookhand. Provenance: Parke-Bernet, New York, 1 December 1948.
A fine example of Romanesque illumination, this opening initial bears similarities with manuscripts produced in both France and England towards the end of the 12th century. However the bold, simplistic forms, strong outlines and palette of orange, green and blues typify the style of illuminators working in central and eastern France (see Bibliothéque Muncipale de Lyons, Ms 411, or W. Cahn, Romanesque Manuscripts, 1996 no. 149).
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