Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.II.35 Bede and other historical texts
This week will be our last ‘Colour your own medieval manuscript’ for the time being (until we can digitise some more manuscripts and find more images that need colouring!). We are ending on a high note with not one, but FIVE uncoloured initials from Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.II.35 Bede and other historical texts.
If you want to colour in an original full page, we have given you the largest of the letters to download, which already has a few highlights in red and green ink. The colouring book style version contains all five letters, with a little of the neighbouring text.
Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.II.35 contains a number of different works, but all of our letters come from Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica, which he completed in 731. This manuscript dates from the 11th century and was given to Durham Priory Library by William of St Calais, who became Bishop of Durham in 1080. Although the first initial in this book (on f.38v) was coloured in red, green, and blue ink, the others were only drawn out in brown and, occasionally, red ink:
These initials are similar to those in another of the books donated by William of St Calais, a Bible created in Normandy in the late 11th century, known as Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.II.4 – Bible of William of St Calais. This manuscript is lavishly decorated throughout, but here is one particularly spectacular example:
We hope you have enjoyed our ‘Colour your own medieval manuscript’ series, we have certainly enjoyed looking at our manuscripts in a slightly different light! Digitisation has not yet resumed, but we hope it will do soon, and in the meantime, we will continue to highlight our collections and post project updates on this blog, and on Twitter (Durham Cathedral Library: @BedesBooks and Palace Green Library: @PalaceGreenLib).
Durham Cathedral Library MS A.III.4 – Kings, glossed; Benjamin minor
We are back to initial letters again this week and we have a small but perfectly formed ‘E’ for you (so small, we have made it a bit bigger in the colouring book style version, and left a space for you to add your own flourishes or illuminations – a drawing of the ageing King David perhaps?). Like our last letter, this one appears to have been missed out even though others in Durham Cathedral Library MS A.III.4 Kings, glossed; Benjamin minor have been coloured (f.4v, f.37r, f.105r, and f.136r).
Our E for ‘Et’ begins the first verse of III Kings (also known as 1 Kings in modern Bibles (after 1516), where the first and second Books of Kings are known as 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, and the third and fourth are known as 1 Kings and 2 Kings) which reads:
Et rex David senuerat, habebatque aetatis plurimos dies, cumque operiretur vestibus, non calefiebat.
Now King David was old and advanced in years. And although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm.1 Kings 1:1 English Standard Version
If you have not already coloured in the image of David from Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.30 Cassiodorus on the Psalms, take a look at Part 3 of ‘Colour your own medieval manuscript’.
Stylistically, our E contains foliate curls and entwined tubes which end in what are officially designated ‘beast heads’. The Digitisation Team has been arguing about what precisely these ‘beasts’ are. Wolves, sheep, dragons, and llamas have been suggested. What do you think?
Next week, we will have a whole page of uncoloured letters for you from Bede and other historical texts!
Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.30 Cassiodorus on the Psalms
We have a slightly different task for you this week, as we can’t really claim that this lovely image of David (written in the circle he is holding) is unfinished, but as you can see, it is rather faded, and in need of a little attention. You might like to do a ‘sympathetic restoration’ of this one, or on the other hand, you could just give it a vibrant and flamboyant overhaul!
Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.30 Cassiodorus on the Psalms is a local manuscript, produced in Northumbria in the second quarter of the 8th century. In our image, David is shown standing on a two-headed serpent, holding a spear. There is another image of King David in the same volume on f.81v, in which he is shown seated on a throne, playing a harp. Thanks to the wonders of technology you can examine both images side by side in our IIIF Mirador viewer (you can do this by clicking the ‘Change Layout’ button and selecting the arrangement of new windows to open):
For comparison, here is another image of David, in Durham Cathedral Library MS A.II.9 – Peter Lombard, In Psalmos f.63r. In this lovely historiated initial, he is being anointed by Samuel, with an attendant holding a crown to the right.
We hope you are enjoying colouring in and exploring our manuscripts. We have a few more for you in the coming weeks, as we keep our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to get back to digitisation soon. Next week, we will have another initial letter, a beautiful ‘E’ this time.
Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.34 Florus of Lyons, Collectaneum in epistolas Pauli (Corinthians-Hebrews)
Welcome to the second instalment of ‘Colour your own medieval manuscript’. We hope you enjoyed Part 1 – Durham Cathedral Library MS A.IV.10 Matthew, glossed and have now honed your illuminating skills and gained an insight into what it was like to be a medieval artist!
This week we have a sadly neglected initial ‘P’ from the beginning of II Corinthians in Durham Cathedral Library MS B.II.34 Florus of Lyons, Collectaneum in epistolas Pauli (Corinthians-Hebrews), written in England in the late 12th century. We can only wonder at what caused it to be missed, as the rest of the manuscript has been beautifully painted. It is carefully drawn out, with entwined symmetrical foliage, along with curls, blossoms and the odd dragon. It should, perhaps, have looked like this one at the beginning of I Corinthians, on f.2r:
Letters of a similar design can also be found in Durham Cathedral Library MS A.II.19, Peter Lombard, On the Epistles of St Paul, which may be familiar to those of you who have been lucky enough to get your hands on one of our DPLR project bookmarks. These initials use a variety of pinks (f.277v), reds (f.4v) and blues (f.200r), highlighted of course, in gold. (To lift up the fabric covers on the manuscript, click on the ‘Layers’ tab, and then check the ‘visible’ box on the second layer.)
You don’t have to use traditional manuscript colours, we’re just using this as an excuse to show you more of our amazing manuscripts, so it’s worth looking at this wonderful scribe (and the chap down at the bottom) as well: Durham Cathedral Library MS A.II.3 Bible, f2r. You can also see some lovely embellishments of the other initials on this page, why not add some to your image!
Coming next time: a full page image from Cassiodorus on the Psalms.
Part 1 – Durham Cathedral Library MS A.IV.10 Matthew, glossed
Have you ever wanted to have a go at illuminating a medieval manuscript? Well, now is your chance!
With at least another couple of weeks of lockdown to go (here in the UK), we thought we might be able to use our stunning manuscripts to help you pass your time in a relaxing and inspirational way. As it turns out, a few of our manuscripts are not quite as stunning as they should be!
We have been searching out illustrations and initials that, for reasons now lost to history, were never quite finished – never coloured in vibrant hues or burnished with gold, never achieving their full glory, forced to languish through century after century in a dull monochrome. We need your help to put this right!
Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing blog posts with an unfinished image that you can download and colour in, either digitally or printed out. You can use our other manuscripts for inspiration and historical accuracy, or you can go wild and give these images your own 21st century twist. Gold leaf is optional.
Our first offering is a full-page drawing from Durham Cathedral Library MS A.IV.10 (Matthew, glossed) showing Christ and the evangelists. This book was written in Northern France in the late 12th century and was presented to Durham Priory by Hugh de Puiset, bishop of Durham.
In the image, the youthful Jesus sits within a mandorla (the almond-shaped frame), blessing with his right hand and holding a book with his left. He is surrounded by four figures, in the top left is Matthew, receiving a scroll and pointing to Christ. The figure with the eagle head in the top right is John, who is also receiving a scroll and pointing to Christ. In the bottom left is Mark, shown with a lion’s head, who is writing in an open book, while Luke is in the bottom right, with an ox’s head, pointing to an open book. Both Mark and Luke are being blessed by a hand emerging from a celestial arc. The association of the evangelists with these animals can also be seen in the Lindisfarne Gospels, which is in the British Library.
If you are colouring digitally, you can download the original image as a full page or by itself, both with a slightly tidied up background to make them easier to colour. If you prefer more of a ‘colouring book’ feel or you want to print out and colour by hand, there is also an option with a white background:
We hope you enjoy colouring this beautiful image. Coming next week (…or possibly the week after): an unfinished initial P!