ENLARGEMENTS OF SELECTED IMAGES
The 2022 Christmas Series is based on
'from earth's vast divergence and wealth
Our joys for living,
and good health.'
Several accompanying 'historic illustrations' this series are extraordinary,
and merit larger views and additional information.
These will be depicted and described below,
as the sequential catalogs are published.
TRANSFORMATIONS: 'FROM THE FORESTS'
Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen was a German female artist, born September 16, 1098,
and contributing to the Medieval movement until her death, September 17, 1179.
Von Bingen's above c1230 medieval gold leaf painting
introduces Part I, Vision 4, of the "Book of Divine Work, : Cosmos".
This was her final visionary writing.
Hildegard completed the first copy of the "Book of Divine Work", or "Divinorum Operum", around 1173.
This illumination is from a 13th century Italian copy, known as the
"Lucca Biblioteca Statale".
Hildegard von Bingen saw many visions during her life :
sights, sounds, tastes and smells which she believed to be messages from God.
She called these visions "the shades of the living light" keeping them to herself, until age 42,
when she received a "more pointed message" to write them down.
"And again I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, 'Cry out therefore, and write thus!"
In 'Scivias', her first volume of mystic theology,
von Bingen describes her reluctance to share her gift,
which she did, through illness, in a period of about 10 years.
For more information, and illuminations of Hildegard von Bingen
and the extraordinary 'Book of Divine Works',
click the link below :
(Image : Creative Commons)
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TRANSFORMATIONS : 'FROM THE FORESTS'
TRANSFORMATIONS: 'FROM THE MOUNTAINS'
"KUTNA HORA", A PARCHMENT ILLUMINATION
The Kutná Hora parchment illumination, presumably the frontispiece for a large church choral book,
depicts the entire silver mining and minting process of 15th century Bohemia.
Apparently cut from the hymnal, it has been lost to the public until only several years ago.
This large and complex and 'rather overwhelming' illumination depicts the entire mining process of ore,
with its excavation, its milling, washing, and subsequent sale to ore merchants,
as well as further processing and smelting to produce silver.
This silver was then used to mint coins which were circulated throughout medieval Europe.
The painter has been identified as Karel Chytil, an illuminator residing in Prague's Old Town
(between April 30, 1495 and January 11, 1496).
The depiction is unique not only in subject matter and artistic quality, but also in its unusually large format.
Additionally, the detail is so specific to be believed executed from direct observations and sketches taken deep within the mines.
This is most unusual for the medieval world of art.
The illumination is also the oldest surviving illustration to capture the entire technological process
centerded in Kutná Hora from the 13th to the 17th century
Composed specific narrative sections, here is a brief description the manuscript by general location
(for those interested):
The Right Side, The Mining :
The mountain of Kuttenberg, in dark blue stone, stretches up the right side of the illumination, enclosing several scenes.
The middle sections depicts miners digging ore deep the mine - some wearing flat burgundy hats,
and others white shifts with pointed hoods, each with a small Roman lamp.
One is shown disappearing up a ladder, two others lifting ore with a winch.
Above that, another miner emerges up a ladder, handing a tally to a bearded man.
And above that, a woman at a table hands a miner a small pouch.
The Left Side, The Processing :
The left side depicts the ore processing. Toward the middle, a richly dressed man, perhaps the overseer
with a feather in his hat and a holding a whip rides a black horse past in inspection.
Immediately above him, is a large industrial horse-drawn wheel crushes the ore and a stream for washing the ore.
This is overseen by two men who ascertain that the pieces are of an even size, and others panning the ore to remove dirt,
and others washing baskets of ore, which are then carried by wheelbarrow to two furnaces in a structure to the left for smelting.
The Bottom, Coin Production :
The bottom section depicts the coin production, the now refined silver being turned into coins in stone buildings.
On the right, the silver is heated, 'quenched', and cut into 'flans' by skilled workers wearing turban-like hats.
On the left these flans are weighed by women wearing the same hats, before the flans are struck with an insignia
by men seated on thin benches covered in rawhide skins.
In the center, richly dressed officials weigh the silver and take records, as a steward with keys
and two guards stand before them.
In the courtyard outside workers count coins, a man moves two barrels and two dogs fight.
The Upper Section, Auction :
In the upper section a large building (the 'auction house') on which flies two red triangular banners,
each with crowned 'W' in liquid gold (the royal insignia of King Ladislaus Jagiellon, 1456-1516,
the successor Mattius Corvinus as king of Hungary).
A number of men sit around a circular table dressed variously, a
nd are being shown silver dust and newly minted coins by mine workers in white uniforms.
A man with long blond hair and brown hat stands behind a raised rostrum in the back of the room,
an open book before him and a stick in his hand, either a recording official or perhaps an auctioneer.
In the middle left foreground one of the buyers pours a tray of samples into a sack held out by his servant - perhaps stealing them.
In the lower right corner of the auction house, out of sight of the buyers,
a man in a blue tunic passionately clasps a woman in a green dress, keeping an eye into the room lest they are caught.
The Kutná Hora Illumination is deposited in the Gallery of the Central Bohemian Region (GASK)
and is on display on special occasions.
For a further enlargement of the Kutná Hora Illumination,
see the wikipedic linkbelow; click twice for full enlargement :
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TRANSFORMATIONS : 'FROM THE MOUNTAINS'
TRANSFORMATIONS: 'FROM THE EARTH & SANDS'
PART I / 'FROM THE EARTH' : CERAMICS
This page from Volume III of Jean de Wavrin's (d. c1474)
"Anciennes et nouvelles chroniques d'Angleterre"
illustrates a scene of Richard II (reigned 1377-1399) at a sumptuous feast,
surrounded by members of the English court,
including the Dukes of York, Gloucester and Ireland, in full regalia.
In the foreground, a servant carries a sugar sculpture of a ship,
an example of the extravagant culinary delicacies enjoyed by medieval royalty.
This lavishly illustrated six-volume chronicle encompasses the entire history of England,
from its legendary foundations up to his Wavrin's own lifetime.
This particular copy of the chronicle is lavishly illustrated and was completed for
Edward IV (reigned 1461-1470, 1471-1483),
with numerous displays of his arms and devices
painted in the borders of the miniatures by professional artists in Bruges.
A note about 14th century feasting or banqueting tables :
"Banqueting tables at grand feasts were decked with spectacular dishes -
providing the perfect opportunity for noblemen to show off their wealth.
Everyday jellies, pies, fritters and stews were accompanied by magnificent animals,
such as peacocks, seals, porpoises and even whales.
Jellies and custards were dyed with vivid natural colourings -
sandalwood for red, saffron for a fiery yellow, and boiled blood for black.
But the most visually alluring pieces at the table were sugar sculptures known as sotiltees (or subtleties).
These sculptures came in all sorts of curious forms -
castles, ships, famous philosophers, or scenes from fables.
Sotiltees were also known as 'warners', as they were served at the beginning of a banquet
to 'warn' (or notify) the guests of the approaching dinner.
Unlike today, meals were not separated into savoury main courses and sweet desserts.
Instead, many dishes were laid out together.
Special courtesy books, which were popular at the time,
instructed diners not to fart, scratch flea bites, or pick their noses."
(British Library, Public Domain in most countries, other than the UK).
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TRANSFORMATIONS : 'FROM THE EARTH & SANDS, PART I'
'FROM THE SANDS' :
15th Century Italian Manuscript,
British Library, Sir Hans Sloane Collection
To British ceramic collectors, Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753)
well known for his botanical gardens in Chelsea,
and the prized Chelsea porcelains painted from the many specimens therein.
Sloane also amassed a vast collection of manuscripts,
covering a wide range of subject matter: medicine, chemistry, botany and horticulture,
exploration and travel, mathematics and natural history, magic and religion.
This collection purchased at Sloane's death from his executors
by the Act of Parliament which also established the British Museum.
Sloane's collection represents one of the three foundation collections of the British Library.
His collection of medical manuscripts has been described as the greatest ever assembled
by a single individual, not just in quantity and variety
but in the exceptional quality of the individual items.
The manuscript shown is "Sloane 4016, number f. 101v",
from a folio executed c1440 in Lombardy, Italy, and entitled simply "Plants".
The folio includes many the full page miniature of plants in colours,
predominantly in green and brown, with Gothic captions in Latin.
Some are further enhanced by figures,
this manuscript depicting (Venetian) men in the process of glass-making.
Most of Sloane MS 1 to Sloane MS 4100 are described in the online catalogue
posted by The British Library
( MS 4016, f. 101v DQ8LFB3XkAAkyF8 ), Public Domain
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TRANSFORMATIONS : 'FROM THE EARTH & SANDS, PART II'
Later in December will be the Last
CHRISTMAS 2022 ,"TRANSFORMATIONS"
'From The Human Spirit'
As usual, nothing in this 'final catalog' will be for sale.