In May 2015 the KU Leuven University Library acquired a unique illuminated manuscript from the Celestine monastery of Arenberg (Leuven, Belgium). The title “Preparationes ante missam” (“Preparations for the mass ‘) was written and illuminated in 1582 in the Celestine monastery in Heverlee, Leuven by the later prior Petrus Angeli. The manuscript is remarkably small in size (100 x 65 mm), and has 34 illuminations. At the beginning of the book Angeli painted eight heraldic weapons, held by female figures, angels, soldiers or ‘wildemannen ‘, followed with sixteen full-page miniatures. They are meticulously painted in warm and brilliant colors and finished with shell gold, depicting scenes of the Old and New Testament. The dedication miniature on folio 45 refers to the Croy’s family, members of the Knights of the Golden Fleece.
Last week the manuscript was examined in the Imaging Lab of the University Library with the new Multispectral Microdome developed in the framework of the RICH project. First conclusions are that the ‘cartouches’ and the coat of arms in the manuscript remained blank and were never overpainted. Moreover, the results showed with IR light that there was no underdrawing made with a carbon based medium, but probably some outline drawing of very small individual figures by a transfer technique. The false color imaging of folio 045r revealed a complex mixed color palette, characteristic for the late 16th century illumination technique. The coming academic year, the newly arrived manuscript will be examined and analyzed to reveal it’s hidden features.