Monitoring the Bible of Anjou with the Portable Light Dome in the Maurits Sabbe Library, KU Leuven (Faculty of Theology)

First half of the fourteenth century. Central and Southern Europe were governed by the successful dynasty of Anjou. In 1328, after the death of her father, Joanna of Anjou became the official heir to the prosperous house of the kings of Naples and Sicily. Several years later her grandfather, Robert I, gave Joanna and her young Hungarian fiancé Andrew a precious gift. That gift was a book which became known as the Anjou Bible, a manuscript that is priceless from a historical and art-historical point of view.

One of the Napolitan artists responsible for the magnificent workmanship was Christophorus Orimina. He put his stamp on the work with his powerful, true-to-life, Byzantine-looking figures. The Portable Light Dome of the RICH project was taken into the strong room of the Maurits Sabbe Library to extend the art-technical research. The RICH team could visualize in detail specific techniques the illuminator used.

On the bas-de-page miniature of folio 308, we see king Robert of Anjou surrounded by his scribes. As the miniature is painted on parchment, the lightning reveals the soft bends in the flexible animal skin (with the shaded filter). The figure of Robert I is shaped in several layers of tempera paint, his robe in a thin layer of blue (azurite), heightened with black (carbon black) and lead white. As the paints has different binders, the thickness of the brush strokes becomes visible. The gold leave is placed on a raised gesso-ground, of ca. 1,4 mm high (measuring and height profile tool), creating a splendid light reflection. A frame in double incised blind lines is enhancing the gilded surface.

Anjou Bible

To know more about the Bible of Anjou Project, see:

Project

Book-viewer

Lieve Watteeuw, Van Bos, M. (2010). Illuminating with Pen and Bruch. The Techniques of a Fourteenth-Century Neapolitan Illuminator Explored. In: Watteeuw L., Van der Stock J. (Eds.), The Anjou Bible. Naples 1340. A Royal Manuscript Revealed. Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts, vol. 18 (pp. 147-170). Paris – Leuven – Warlpole, Peeters Publishers, 2010

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