Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Painted Geneology

As will happen while obsessively pursuing details about the life and posthumous fame of a single historical figure, a moment of pure serendipity has granted me a rare look at a beautiful (and relevant!) illuminated manuscript. As I was preparing my post last week on Saint Isabel, I searched for images of her online to help tell her story.

The two XVII-century paintings I found, little did I know at the time, turned out to be a part of a never-completed pictorial genealogy of Portuguese kings and queens. Thanks to the expediency of digital technology, I was able to easily track down the manuscript and happily find its digitized version on the British Library website.

The images in this post are my own screen-captures of that manuscript which, although unfinished, boasts several gorgeous and richly detailed miniatures and full-page paintings. There are large blank spaces where the text would have gone, but as the manuscript was never completed (that we know of), these 11 leaves provide an interesting look at the process of illumination, including unpainted drawings.

I invite you to look closely at these incredible leaves, available on the British Library site here. To find the images of Saint Isabel, you will find them on the Recto side of the 9th leaf - she is down at the very bottom of the page, elaborated with surprisingly precise and prolific detail, in spite of being quite tiny.

Until next time -- keep rustling!

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