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Decorated Initial With Colour-Note And Preparatory Sketch, In Rabanus Maurus's 'The Universe'

Decorated Initial With Colour-Note And Preparatory Sketch, In Rabanus Maurus's 'The Universe'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1150

Shelfmark: Royal MS 12 G.xiv

Item number: f.270r

Length: 40

Width: 28

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Rabanus Maurus (c.776-856) was abbot of Fulda and later archbishop of Mainz. Between 852 and 846 he compiled The Universe' (also called 'The Nature of things'), a sort of encyclopaedia arranged in 22 books, based on the 'Etymologies' of Isidore. This copy was written at the Benedictine abbey at St. Albans. Two features of the making of decorated initial are visible on this page. Close examination shows the preliminary design sketched out by the artist at the base of this initial 'P'. In the right margin can be seen a brown letter 'V': this is a colour-note, used by artists to ensure regular alternation of colours of their initial. V stands for a Latin word for green, elsewhere in the manuscript 'R' is used for red and 'a' for blue.

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