Modern Medieval Illuminations

4/15/2012 Posted In , , Edit This 0 Comments »

Artist Claudia Tulifero's atelier in the historic center of Florence offers what few places do nowadays—gorgeous, meticulously crafted illuminations made with the same techniques and materials used by Medieval illuminators some 700 years ago. My heart aches for that exquisite reproduction from the Hours of Duc de Berry, above! The illuminated initials, below, would make unforgettable presents for the Medievalists and art lovers in our lives. (
Dear Santa: I hope you are reading this).

To see more beautiful illuminations and pictures of the works in progress, visit the Studio Artemisia Etsy Store.

NB: All illuminations in this post ©Claudia Tulifero. Used with permission.

When that Aprill: The Poetry of Spring

4/14/2012 Posted In , , , Edit This 0 Comments »

Poets have always written about spring, and no surprise—even in our cynical world, spring inspires a sense of wonder, a sense of hope and possibilities. Here are extracts from some of my favorite spring poems. They are linked to their full versions (and in the case of the Middle English ones, the translations). Don't miss out on the beautiful song audio file for the first!

Lenten ys come with love to toune,
With blosmen & with briddes roune,
        That al this blisse bryngeth;
Dayes eyes in this dales,
Notes suete of nyhtegales;
        Uch foul song singeth....
        —Anonymous Medieval Lyric (c1310)

Whan that Aprille with his showres sote
The droght of Marche had perced to the rote...
And smale fowles maken melodye....
        —Chaucer, General Prologue,
           Canterbury Tales (late 14th c.)

Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year's pleasant king;
Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing,
          Cuckoo, jug, jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
        —Thomas Nashe, Spring (c1590)

May never was the month of love,
    For May is full of flowers;
But rather April, wet by kind,
    For love is full of showers.
        —Robert Southwell, Love's Servile Lot (late 16th c.)

How could it be so fair, and you away?
How could the Trees be beauteous, Flowers so gay?...
When e'er then you come hither, that shall be
The time, which this to others is, to Me.
        —Abraham Cowley, Spring (1647)

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
        —T. S. Eliot, Waste Land (1922)

NB: The MS image in this post ©British Library. In the U.S., under U.S. copyright law,
it is Public Domain and is used under a Creative Commons license.

The Luttrell Psalter: Medieval Beauty

4/12/2012 Posted In , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »

One of the loveliest Medieval manuscripts must be the Luttrell Psalter, made between 1325 and 1335 for Sir Geoffrey Luttrell, a Lincolnshire knight. Unlike typical books of psalms, its wonder does not rest on illuminations of biblical figures and events, but on its wealth of marginal and bas-de-page (lit. "bottom of the page") illustrations of everyday life in the Middle Ages. The manuscript features activities ranging from plowing and sowing the fields to playing games, cooking, and dining:

(Click to enlarge images)

Plowing the field with oxen.

Harrowing the field.

Sowing the field.

Reaping and binding sheaves of wheat.

Stacking sheaves of wheat to dry.

Threshing wheat with flails.

Cherry thief.

Woman spinning.

Shepherd piping.

Milking sheep in a pen.


Woman feeding chickens.

In 2006, Lincolnshire film director, Nick Loven, had the idea of making a short film based on the Luttrell Psalter. WAG Screen shot the film over the span of a year, with little budget and a cast and crew of volunteers. It debuted in 2008 to high acclaim. This labor of love brings beautifully to life scenes from the Psalter:

The British Library has a few selections from the Luttrell Psalter viewable for free on their "Turning the Pages" site, here. They've also recently added an iPad app of the complete Luttrell Psalter [US | UK]. The app includes the short film above.

And so, fare well!

NB: All Luttrell Psalter images in this post ©British Library. In the U.S., under U.S. copyright law, they are Public Domain and are used under a Creative Commons license.