March 16, 2009
Leaf from a Gradual:
Initial B with St. Michael Archangel Conquering the Devil, September 29
Belgium, Bruges, 1500
Parchment with ink, paint, and gold
Illuminator (Artist): assistant of Cornelia van Wulfschkercke
This initial begins the Introit for the feast of St. Michael Archangel (Sept. 29), “Benedicite dominum omnes angeli eius …” (Bless the Lord, all you angels of his). This leaf was illuminated by an assistant of Cornelia van Wulfschkercke, a nun at the Bruges Carmelite convent Sion who was active in the late 15th and early 16th century.
The floral border is a scattered, strewn, or trompe l’oeil border. This style became fashionable particularly in Flemish art around the middle of the 15th century. Many of these borders also included division lines, such as seen here, with alternating colors in the background.
The main decoration in this manuscript is an historiated initial featuring Michael the Archangel: however, there are a few examples of inhabited initials as well, with faces appearing in the B (benedic) and G (gloria). Michael is shown with typical attributes: scales weighing the souls of the departed, and a sword with which he impales a dragon.
Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E M 66:14