HERB - Standard floral depictions in illumination?

N.D. Wederstrandt nweders at mail.utexas.edu
Fri Jan 8 06:27:45 PST 1999

 This is in regards to your note.  I recently bought a book on artists and
craftsmen in the Middle Ages.  One of the reasons I bought the book was
that it included a photo of a sample book for painters.  The sample book in
this case contains samples of heads and some animals.  A person could go
into an artists shop and order a Crucifixtion and the artist would go into
and copy the heads that could be used or the buyer may have wanted.  There
are very few of these sample books left so it may be conceivable that
sample books of flowers also existed....   Many people often would purchase
small dyptchs and triptychs for private chapels in homes and these were
done in a mass market style.  Since mundanely I am a studio art major, I
easily got interested in how artists and craftspeople were treated in this
time period.   They did a huge amount of mass market work that often could
be done assembly style.  This same book has an example of a city banner
that was painted by a woman artist from Ghent.  She did such a thriving
business in banners that that was all she had time to do. Painted banners
were so popular that she did not panel painting or other types of art
because she didn't have time.

If you look through the illuminated manuscripts of a certain area and
period there are similarities of type of flower.  Lilies, for example often
appear in borders around depictions of te Virgin Mary, since they were her
symbol.   Borage, which helped cure melancholy and gave cheer were
sometimes found in the borders of strong emotional scenes.  The symbolism
of the flowers seem to be accepted as standard.

Somewhere buried at home is the book with the photo of the sample book in
it.  if you can be patient and you are interested, i can find it and give
you the info on it.  I have another book that talks about the status of the
artist and how Italian Renasaince artists shops were set up.
It may answer some of your questions or drive you nuts opening up another
area for you to study.

Any information, book or comment I'd love to hear about...



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