The Clothilde Missal

In 2016, the Walters Art Museum purchased a unique and fascinating Edwardian era manuscript from 1906, known today as the Clothilde Missal (W.934) after its creator Clothilde Coulaux. This exciting acquisition greatly enriches the Walters manuscript collection, which includes only a small handful of manuscripts made by women. Clothilde was a young French woman living in Molsheim, a city in German-occupied Alsace, France, and her lovely manuscript is a testimony to her artistic skill, imagination, and ability to find beauty in an uncertain world.

A self-portrait by the artist graces one of the last pages of the missal.

While the text of her manuscript is traditional and religious, Clothilde illustrates all 174 pages with a rich variety of imagery including not only devotional subjects, but also scenes of everyday life, music, feasting, courtship and child rearing, death, warfare, and regional architecture. Her religious illuminations often draw upon prints by Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, and other early masters, as well as art she possibly encountered in her environment such as stained glass, sculpture, and liturgical instruments. Much of the other imagery, however, is uniquely her own, and seems to play around the edges of a text to which it does not entirely relate. Personal touches like her cat gazing out the window, or a tiny figure spilling an enormous ink pot, add whimsy and humor to the pages. The book is her canvas, and the text a background and excuse for her art.

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Illuminating Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age, Part III

The Walters recently launched a new website that houses its digital collection of manuscripts: manuscripts.thewalters.org. Featuring a user-friendly design, the site provides visitors with intuitive search options, including the ability to refine their search by date, geography, subject, culture, and more. 

Lynley Anne Herbert is the Robert and Nancy Hall Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Walters. She started working at the museum as a fellow in 2010, and was soon brought on board as a part-time cataloguer of Western manuscripts for the NEH-funded manuscript digitization project. It often took her and the digitization team up to two weeks to catalogue and digitize a single book.

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Illuminating Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age, Part II

The Walters recently launched a new website that houses its digital collection of manuscripts: manuscripts.thewalters.org. Featuring a user-friendly design, the site provides visitors with intuitive search options, including the ability to refine their search by date, geography, subject, culture, and more. 

Lynley Anne Herbert is the Robert and Nancy Hall Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Walters. She started working at the museum as a fellow in 2010, and was soon brought on board as a full-time cataloguer of Western manuscripts for the NEH-funded manuscript digitization project. It often took her and the digitization team up to two weeks to catalogue and digitize a single book.

Continue reading Illuminating Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age, Part II →

Illuminating Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age, Part I

The Walters recently launched a new website that houses its digital collection of manuscripts: manuscripts.thewalters.org. Featuring a user-friendly design, the site provides visitors with intuitive search options, including the ability to refine their search by date, geography, subject, culture, and more. 

Lynley Anne Herbert is the Robert and Nancy Hall Assistant Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Walters. She started working at the museum as a fellow in 2010, and was soon brought on board as a full-time cataloguer of Western manuscripts for the NEH-funded manuscript digitization project. It often took her and the digitization team up to two weeks to catalogue and digitize a single book.

Continue reading Illuminating Medieval Manuscripts in the Digital Age, Part I →

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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