The Golden Script

The Golden Script Facsimile Edition

Tours (France); Lindisfarne (United Kingdom) and others — 7th–15th century

From the initial letter to the independent work of art: an overview of the art of the historiated initial over 9 centuries in a collection of single leaves

  1. Historiated initials first emerged in the early 8th century and are an invention of Insular illuminators

  2. The miniature scenes contained in these initials often, but not always, have a connection to the text

  3. The ten folios in this selection represent a fine survey of the art of the historiated initial across nine centuries

The Golden Script

Regular price without login (like new)590 
Log in for a Better Price!
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
The Golden Script

One of the most prominent and distinctive features of a medieval manuscript is the so-called historiated initial – a large decorative initial that additionally contains a picture. They consistently appeared in manuscripts throughout the Middle Ages and continued to be reproduced in engraved form after the invention of the book press. Historiated initials had both practical purposes as well as being decorative – some historiated initials have been created with a level of refinement and artistry rivaling that of miniatures.

The Golden Script

In the strictest sense, a historiated initial depicts an identifiable figure or specific scene, while in an inhabited initial, the people or animals depicted lack a specific subject and are sometimes purely decorative. Historiated initials first emerged in the early 8th century and are an invention of Insular illuminators. The miniature scenes contained in these initials often, but not always, have a connection to the text and were created with the same quality of material and artistry as full-page miniatures, even employing silver and gold at times. Aside from their illustrative purposes, these elaborate initials serve as sign posts in the text and indicate the beginning of a new section. Due to the high cost of parchment, they could not always begin on a new page. In this way, historiated initials also served a functional purpose in addition to their aesthetic value. That being said, some luxury manuscripts will devote an entire page to a historiated initial, giving the artists full range to explore the creative potential of these decorative elements.

The ten folios in this selection represent a fine survey of the art of the historiated initial throughout the Middle Ages, and are presented here along with other decorative pages.

  1. Ornamental Page, Gospel of John
    Book of Lindisfarne, Lindisfarne before 698
    London, British Library

  2. Initial Page, Gospel of Matthew
    Ebo Evangeliary, Reims 816/835
    Epernay, Bibliothèque Municipale

  3. Canon Table
    Gospels of Lothair, Tours ca. 849/851
    Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale

  4. “B” Initial from Psalm 1
    Harley Psalter, Winchester ca. 980
    London, British Library

  5. “Q” Initial
    Bohun Psalter, England ca. 1370
    Oxford, Exeter College

  6. King and Queen Playing Chess
    Timeline of Christianity, Utrecht ca. 1410
    New York, Piermont Morgan Library

  7. Haggadah Ornamental Page
    Darmstadt Pesach Haggadah, Upper Rhine ca. 1430
    Darmstadt, Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek

  8. Adoration of the Magi
    Stephan Lochner Prayer Book, Cologne 1451
    Darmstadt, Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek

  9. “D” Initial with Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
    Hours of Mary of Burgundy, Ghent 1470/80
    Vienna, Österreichische National-Bibliothek

  10. “D” Initial
    Sforza Hours, Milan ca. 1490
    London, British Library

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Kassette Die Goldene Schrift
Origin
France
Date
7th–15th century
Language
Illustrations
10 miniatures
Content
Ten leaves from important manuscripts
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne
Bona Sforza, Duchess of Milan
Margaret of Austria
Catherine of Aragon
Mary of Burgundy
Humphrey de Bohun
Elizabeth of York, queen consort of England

Available facsimile editions:
The Golden Script – Several Owners Facsimile Edition
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1983
Limited Edition: 1495 copies
Detail Picture

The Golden Script

Chess – Tafel van den Kersten Ghelove

Appearing in a Dutch manuscript from ca. 1410, a king and queen playing chess are depicted in a historiated “D” initial consisting of blue acanthus leaves and a burnished gold background. They sit beneath a tree, presumably in a garden, play on a chessboard without pieces, and are accompanied by two men and two women in the foreground; all the figures wear golden crowns. Aside from being one of the most popular games among the nobility, the game of chess was used by authors like Jacobus de Cessolis as an allegory for medieval society.

Kassette Die Goldene Schrift
Single Page

The Golden Script

Psalm 52 – The Bohun Psalter

Although containing the text of Psalm 52 (or Psalm 51 in the Vulgate as it appears here), the imagery of this page from comes from the Book of Genesis and depicts scenes from the life of Jacob. The historiated “Q” initial is divided into four miniatures beginning in the upper-right corner: Jacob and Laban meet; Laban searches Rachel's tent; Laban and Jacob build the witness heap; Jacob sends presents to Esau. It is also adorned by five dragons as well as tiny medallions with the escutcheons of the Bohuns (a gold dragon on a blue field) and the English royal family (a gold dragon on a red field).

Five bas-de-page miniatures with trefoil arches decorated with crockets, finials, and pinnacles appear in the crenellated base of the architectural frame: Jacob wrestles with the angel; Jacob and Esau meet; Shechem ravishes Dinah; the Shechemites agree to be circumcised; the slaughter of the Shechemites. The tower-like structures with crocketed niches and adjoining buttressed pinnacles on either side of the text feature four pairs of musicians playing harps, fiddles, horns, and drums respectively. This late-14th century Psalter is a splendid example of the highly refined English Gothic style.

Kassette Die Goldene Schrift
Facsimile Editions

#1 Kassette Die Goldene Schrift

Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1983
The Golden Script – Several Owners Facsimile Edition
The Golden Script – Several Owners Facsimile Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1983
Limited Edition: 1495 copies
Binding: Box
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: German
1 volume: 10 leaves under passe-partouts: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Regular price without login (like new)590 
Log in for a Better Price!
You might also be interested in:
Art of the Moghul Era Facsimile Edition
Art of the Moghul Era
India – 16th–18th century

From the realm of India's legendary rulers: a fascinating insight into the rich and varied artistic tradition of the exotic Mughals

Experience More
The Golden Calendar Facsimile Edition
The Golden Calendar
Paris (France); Bruges (Belgium) and others – 15th–16th century

From the most beautiful calendars of the Middle Ages: a collection of 13 calendar miniatures illuminated with monthly activities and zodiac symbols

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher