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An illuminator's sketchbook

Janet Backhouse


ONLY a handful of the sketch- and model books compiled by artists during the Middle Ages have survived to the present day. In those which have come to light pictorial subjectmatter predominates, and it is often far from clear whether the book contains models for miniatures or whether it was intended for the use of wall or glass painters. The more purely decorative elements of a book painter's work are seldom found alone or even in substantial quantity within a sketchbook and Sloane MS. 1448A in the British Library is therefore a welcome discovery.' It contains drawings for letters from six decorative alphabets, some of them combined with motifs for use in associated borders, executed on vellum partly with a brush and partly with a pen in varying combinations of brown, blue-black, and mauve inks.

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