The St. Francis Missal

The St. Francis Missal (W.75) is, at first glance, a seemingly humble manuscript. Bound in undecorated wood and leather, its cover is worm-eaten and cracked. As a missal (a book containing the texts used in the celebration of the Mass), it was primarily meant to be read from by the priest during the church service, and thus designed to be functional rather than lavish. Why, then, is this book one of the most intriguing in The Walters’ collection, as well as one of the most popular, visited by many from around the world each year?

The St. Francis Missal (W.75) is, at first glance, a seemingly humble manuscript.  Bound in undecorated wood and leather, its cover is worm-eaten and cracked. As a missal (a book containing the texts used in the celebration of the Mass), it was primarily meant to be read from by the priest during the church service, and thus  designed to be functional rather than lavish.  In all aspects of its production, it is a typical example of missals produced in Italy in the late 12th – early 13th century. Why, then, is this book one of the most intriguing in The Walters’ collection, as well as one of the most popular, visited by many from around the world each year?


Venetian (Artist) / Pages from The St. Francis Missal / 1172-1228 (Medieval) / Acquired by Henry Walters / Not on view

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This Manuscript Page has a 5 o’clock Shadow

What is that? Mold? Ink splatter? No, it’s stubble. Sometimes we come across fun surprises in manuscripts that remind us the animal origins of vellum.

Sometimes we come across fun surprises in manuscripts that remind us the animal origins of vellum.
hairypage

What is that? Mold? Ink splatter?

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Illuminated Manuscripts on the Internet: How do we do it?

We are digitization specialists in the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books. We’re working to digitize the collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts.

This is an installment of the weekly interview series, on the Culture Comment blog. It’s called “Behind-the-Scenes.” Each week, we’ll discuss new facts and information about the people that make the Walters Art Museum tick. Now, let’s meet digitization specialists Diane Bockrath and Ariel Tabritha.

Diane Bockrath & Ariel Tabritha: We are digitization specialists in the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books. We’re working on a special project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize the Walters’ collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts and make it available on the Internet. That means we capture a high-resolution digital image for each and every page in the books, using a 33-megapixel camera and a custom-built book cradle system that supports the fragile bindings. Then we crop and correct each image for color, perform quality control, and deliver the images to their long-term archival homes, along with their appropriate descriptive information, or metadata.

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