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Christ before Pilate: folio 21v
Title : Christ before Pilate: folio 21v Christ before Pilate: folio 21v
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Creator : Catholic Church
Source : Italian Book of hours, c1375 [manuscript]
Place Of Creation : Central Italy
Date of creation : c. 1375
Format : Manuscript
Catalogue record
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Description :

One of 19 thumb-nail sized historiated initials [initial capitals that contain an illustration that is relevant to the particular passage] and which are six lines high and introduce the main sections of the book. These initials are very elaborate with foliate and knotted motifs, highlighted in white. The predominant colours are blue, yellow, orange, green and pink with a lavish use of burnished gold. These initials contain a story, usually a moment in the life of Christ or of his mother the Virgin Mary. The letters are painted blue and pink, forming the frame for the image; there is often a further line in gold inside the main frame. It is this internal line of gold that is often used to bring the 'action' of the image closer to the reader, by positioning the picture over or beyond the internal frame.

Folio 21v : initial letter D contains the story of Christ before Pilate: Lauds. Christ draws his robes around himself, his head bowed, as the two figures of his interrogators crowd in upon him. The space inside the initial is filled with the three figures with almost none of the internal line of gold visible, a device of the illuminator to bring the action of the image into the viewer's space, and confronting him with this moment in Christ's Passion.

Stocks states that it is 'more usual for the appearance of Christ before Pilate to illustrate prime ...The position of this scene at lauds, however, in the Adelaide Hours is logical chronologically, and it resonates with Psalm 58 which is recited at this hour ... 'For behold, they have caught my soul: the mighty have rushed in upon me.' (Art of the book p. 120)

The border is typical of others throughout the volume with lavish acanthus foliage. The Gothic border was a development of the late 12th and early 13th centuries, and occupying the margins of the pages, allowed a greater interaction between the text and the illustration. In the Adelaide Hours the use of burnished gold is not restricted to the historiated initial but is used throughout the border decoration.

Further reading :

The art of the book: its place in medieval worship edited by Margaret M. Manion and Bernard J. Muir Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998 Chapter 4: The illustrated Office of the Passion in Italian Books of Hours by Bronwyn Stocks

The medieval imagination: illuminated manuscripts from Cambridge, Australia and New Zealand edited by Bronwyn Stocks and Nigel Morgan South Yarra, Vic.: Macmillan Art Pub., 2008 pp. 184-85

The Cambridge illuminations: ten centuries of book production in the medieval West edited by Paul Binski & Stella Panayotova London: Harvey Miller, 2005

De Hamel, Christopher A history of illuminated manuscripts Oxford: Phaidon, 1986

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