Saturday, May 18, 2013

The House of Savoy

Superb illuminated paintings distinguish this visual regional history as an album of outstanding quality, to my eye. Please do yourself a favour by clicking through directly to the very large versions of these parchment page images so you can better inspect the manuscript illustrator's exquisite and detailed work. Produced in ~1580, this is quite a late example of such high calibre illumination work, and it was likely a special commission by a member of the royal household in the variable Italian-French-Swiss territory of Savoy.

"The House of Savoy was formed in the early 11th century in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, it grew from ruling a small county in that region to eventually rule—through its branch Savoy-Carignano—the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until the end of World War II. The House of Savoy ruled unified Italy for 85 years with Victor Emmanuel II [..&c..] as monarchs. The last monarch ruled for a few weeks before being overthrown by a Constitutional Referendum, and a new republic was then proclaimed. [..]

The House of Savoy emerged, along with the free communes of Switzerland, in what is now called Switzerland. The name derives from the historical region Savoy in what is now France and Italy. Over time the house expanded from that region to rule almost all of the Italian Peninsula. Yet their growth and survival over the centuries was not based on spectacular conquests, but on gradual territorial expansion through marriage and methodical and highly manipulative political acquisitions." [source]
The manuscript features the armorial bearings^ of (at least) the House of Savoy and the Habsburg Empire, assorted Dukes, Counts, Marchionesses and Countesses at their investitures, battles and in funereal or marriage portraits; and formal Roman and Greek architectural decoration is mixed in with the stylised grotesques, trophies, arms and strapwork motifs favoured during the Renaissance. The colouring is just gorgeous and adds enormously to the ink and ink-wash foundation. The only written text is in the name plates and scene descriptions (+/- mottoes) in Latin accompanying nearly all the illustrations.

House of Savoy

House of Savoy a

House of Savoy b

House of Savoy c

House of Savoy d

House of Savoy e

House of Savoy f

House of Savoy f1

House of Savoy g

House of Savoy h

House of Savoy i

House of Savoy j

House of Savoy j 1

House of Savoy k

House of Savoy k 1

House of Savoy l

House of Savoy m

'The Album of the House of Savoy (W. 464)' is owned and hosted by the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore within 'The Digital Walters' assemblage of manuscripts: one of the best sites of its kind on the internet.**

The images above were slightly cropped (the illustrations take up nearly the whole of every page) and I don't recall adjusting any of the colour/balance qualities at all. I uploaded very large jpeg images, but the reason The Digital Walters deserves praise is, in addition to sharing all the manuscript images under an attribution share-alike 3.0 CC license, they also supply a range of .jpg and .tiff file sizes, unlike most repositories. So an even LARGER and very high resolution version of each page image can be found on their website.

Re: House of Savoy - I'm not a fan of any of the sites I looked at, in terms of an historical overview, but in addition to Wikipedia, there are: Chivalric Orders, New Advent & Regalis that you may find useful.

Previously: Illuminated.

**ADDIT: a couple of days later I discovered that the erstwhile curator at The Walters Art Musuem, @WillNoel (of Parchment & Pixel), had participated in a Nov' 2012 conference in New York and his 20 minute talk is available on Youtube. Part of his talk - titled: *The Commons and Digital Humanities in Museums* - includes the evolution of the ethos behind manuscript management in the digital arena at The Walters and it's a very worthwhile talk to listen to, especially if you are in the museum/library/archives sphere; but it's just as interesting for the rest of us too.

ADDIT II: Thanks to Chiara from The Walters Art Museum for passing on a bibliography of references in relation to the W.464 manuscript - the pdf can be viewed here. I have not seen any of these items (please let me know if that link is inaccessible).


Fausto Baiocco said...

Good Morning,
you have a very good blog.
See my "Links" ( at this page (, and use it if you want. Ok? And write me if you want some specifications (

peacay said...

Grazie mille Fausto. There are sites in your list of repository links that I've not encountered before. The more the merrier!

Pacoloio said...

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( and ( and ( and ( Ciao

Pacoloio said...

Pacoloio is the same of Fausto Baiocco, but another blog.

Nancy Ewart said...

The House of Savoy - what a treat for the eyes. The huge repository of links is going to keep me busy for ages. I can hardly wait to see what treasures you will mine.

The Bearded Belgian said...

Hi. Just posting to see if you ever heard of Japanese Fish Printing.

You can learn about it here:

i thought you might find it fascinating.

peacay said...

Thanks Nikolaj. I think that this printing technique is used more widely than just in Japan, although it may have originated there. I remember seeing a taxidermist do the same thing on some tv show last year as a way for a customer to permanently record a caught fish.
I've shared that video on Twitter too. Cheers mate!

randomlessly said...

I'm amazed with all that information... nice post anyway.

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