500-year-old illuminations

500-year-old illuminations

At the Isabella Stewart Gardner's recent collaborative show Beyond Words, I got to see many very old manuscripts. The theme uniting these books was their luxury. Instead of plain, unadorned, highly glossed and dense texts a scholar or student might use, I saw vibrant, shining and sophisticated volumes that showed a patron's taste and wealth.

The exhibition was excellent, though small, and I felt the opulence--and the intelligence--that marked the Renaissance.

But the key point for me, and what I'll try to show in the following (poor) photographs, is the vibrancy of the artwork. The painted and gilt illuminations popped of the pages, and were so stunning and bright it was hard to believe they are 500 years old. Again, please pardon the low-light photos and lack of proper citation.... I'm just trying to convey the shimmering nature of the gilt illumination that remains so stunning so long after its production.

Cameo at the end from Anthony Cains, Bill Anthony, Abigail Quandt for a video they helped create on illumination.

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Endleaves or endpapers; flying or free

Endleaves or endpapers; flying or free

"Free endleaves," "Flying leaves," or "Flyleaves?"

This point of nomenclature is most important in cataloging, imaging, and in conserving books. For example, let's say you want to search a database for a decorated end leaf. Which word should you use? Well, you must use the word used by the catalogers -- but which did they use? Or what if you want to search conservation treatment records? You must use the word used by the conservators in their reports...  and if you don't use the right search term, you won't find what you're looking for. I'l discuss my arbiter of points of nomenclature --  and then I have a question.

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Some fine details from Guild of Bookworkers (USA) exhibition "Vessel"

Some fine details from Guild of Bookworkers (USA) exhibition "Vessel"

"I saw the current exhibition recently at North Bennet Street School in Boston and here's some close-ups. I'm staying away from commentary on the designs but instead will focus on the details, the beautiful details!"

Colin Urbina, Lang Ingalls, Erin Fletcher, Brien Beidler, Ethan Ensign, Todd Pattison, Jennifer Evers, Sialia Reicke.

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