Friday, October 26, 2007

The Bishops

Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript

Polish illuminated manuscript detail


Polish illuminated manuscript detail


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript


Polish illuminated manuscript detail


'Catalogus Archiepiscoporum Gnesnensium Vitae Episcoporum Cracoviensium' (Catalogue of the Archbishops of Gniezno and Lives of the Bishops of Cracow) is available at the National Digital Library of Poland (note the six-dotted thumbnail icon top left of the frame). The images above were posted to wikimedia.

It was written by the Polish historian, Jan Długosz (who also produced the 'Banderia Prutenorum' flag book), in the 15th century. The exquisite illuminations for this version (1531-1535) were painted by Stanislaw Samostrzelnik. Not even such magnificent embellishment using medieval photoshoppery could endow this parade of Bishops with anything approaching a happy or friendly disposition however. Almost all of them appear to be sour old men, utterly without charm.

4 comments :

Karla said...

"Almost all of them appear to be sour old men, utterly without charm."

I'm not sure I'd go quite that far--the last one at least looks contemplative. On the other hand, they were supposed to be celibate, which probably had a souring effect on those who took the idea seriously... I envision them thinking "Yeah, the parents offered me up to the Church, I was smart and rich enough to become a bishop, but this is just no fun."

peacay said...

Actually, I think you're probably right. I clipped these a week or so ago and didn't look closely at them all while doing the uploading shenanigans. "Almost all" should be "Some of them". Oh well, I'll leave my mischaracterisation for posterity. Still, I can only presume the illustrator was hoping to stress piety/seriousness and I opted for a more 'modern' interpretation.

lotusgreen said...

i'm amazed at how much those borders look like needlework

Karla said...

In my mispent teens, I went around looking for stuff like this (minus the solemn bishops) to embroider on my clothes. And seeking out early embroideries. I was a bit disappointed, in my recent visits to the V&A, not to see a particularly fine embroidered steed (dapple gray, I think) that was on display when I was 17. But they do have to rotate these things for conservation purposes.

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