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Christ crucified: folio 34r
Title : Christ crucified: folio 34r Christ crucified: folio 34r
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Creator : Catholic Church.
Source : Italian Book of hours, c1375 [manuscript]
Date of creation : c. 1375
Format : Manuscript
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Description :

In the Adelaide Hours there are 19 thumb-nail sized historiated initials [initial capitals that contain an illustration that is relevant to the particular passage] which are six lines high and introduce the main sections of the book. These 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 34r Letter D Crucifixion: sext. Christ is offered the sponge soaked in vinegar, with the Virgin Mary alongside. His figure is still taut and his features alert in contrast to his image in the next initial (folio 39v Christ dead on the cross). This is only one of two instances in which the main frame of the initial is crossed, in this case by the cross and Christ's arms. This is one of two illustrations in the Adelaide Hours devoted to the Crucifixion and is typical of Italian books of Hours in contrast to those from France and Flanders where it is more normal to have only the one with Deposition at none. In the Adelaide Hours Deposition is shown at vespers (folio 45v).

The border is typical of others throughout the volume with lavish acanthus foliage; on this page a naked man blows a trumpet in the top left hand corner and three birds can be seen in the lower border. 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 :

Stocks, Bronwyn 'The illustrated Office of the Passion in Italian Books of Hours' in 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

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

Manion, Margaret Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts in Australian collections Margaret M. Manion and Vera F. Vines; with a foreword by K.V. Sinclair Melbourne: Thames and Hudson, 1984 pp. 70-71

De Hamel, C. F. R. A history of illuminated manuscripts London: Phaidon Press, 1994

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

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