Saturday, August 25, 2007


Mira calligraphiae monumenta. One of the last great examples of calligraphy and illumination. Georg Bocskay laid down all the text, hands from the past and present rendered exquisitely, some so small that the eyes water just looking at the and your hand begins to ache with sympathy. It is a masterpiece of calligraphy with some of the most difficult and intricately woven script hands laid down page after page.

Thirty years after the calligraphy, Joris Hoefnagel illuminated each page with breathtakingly realistic inspirations from nature, each rendered almost hyper realistically. The common becomes uncommon as a tiny snail can capture your imagination in the perfect gleam of light from its moist shell. The ever complex columbine flower takes on the forms of a masterwork and one can appreciate the subtlety created by the painter. On each page, a passion shines through. Each item is breathtakingly transformed almost as if a prayer whose voice can be heard all this time later. A lily, a tomato, a damselfly, a frog, a tulip, a spider... things which we encounter every day but rarely notice Hoefnagel took something common and raised it up as breathtaking and then put it down on those pages for all of time to love and revere it.

Obviously, I have a passion for this piece. The first time I set my eyes upon those pages, my breath caught and I thought to myself "Now that is beauty... can I paint like that?" I quickly discovered this as my favorite style, much preferring it to the giant empty eyes of ancient Spain, the complex and unrealistic zoomorphs of Ireland, and even the flat figures lacking depth that seem to hang on pages from Paris.

So far I have done six pages from this book, a Rose scroll with a knot worked cross that was the text, Gianetta's Laurel, two awards for Finneadan, and two wedding certificates. I believe that I only have pictures of three of those.

Ginanetta's Laurel was some of the most challenging calligraphy I have ever done. The center body of each letter had to be put down first with the ascenders and descenders being added last. The letter knot themselves together in wide loops and tight turns. The last image a detail of that calligraphy. It appears pale on the page as it is rendered in a gold ink. It catches the light beautifully in person, but never photographs well.

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