Taken from a 16th-century manuscript now housed in the Getty Museum, the intricate illustrations in this tiny volume are characteristic of Renaissance art: each letter is surrounded by religious and political imagery, as well as fanciful creatures and a fragment of a Psalm beginning with the respective letter. The warm, rich colors and the juxtaposition of elements such as crabs, asps, grapes, disembodied wings, crests, irises, and flags imbue each plate with a sense of divine haughtiness and humor. Besides the drawings themselves, the accompanying notes describe the evolution of different fonts, providing information that helps the reader interpret the wealth of information in each drawing.
From Library Journal
Demeude's preoccupation with letters has led him to bring together illuminated initials and ornamental characters from 12 centuries of alphabets and typography, ranging from 8th-century sacred manuscripts to 20th-century mass-produced postcards. Included are samples from over 100 alphabets created by such artists as Durer, Holbein, Daumier, and Kate Greenaway. The animated letters may be draped with the human form, used to offer historical or biblical scenes, or entwined with naturalistic scenes. While the accompanying historical notes and essays are succinct, the visuals will be of the most value as a study collection. The Getty's diminutive (51/4" x 71/4") volumes contain reproductions and notes on calligraphy and miniature paintings from a work commissioned by the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II during the 16th century. Currently in the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Mira calligraphiae monumenta (Model Book of Calligraphy) is the combined effort of master calligrapher Georg Bocskay and court artist Joris Hoefnagel. Considered one of the most precious books of the European Renaissance, it represents the transition from medieval European manuscript illumination to the emergence of the floral still life genre of the early 17th century. Nature Illuminated contains reproductions of 41 manuscript pages with meticulous studies of flora and fauna. An Abecedarium contains 38 illuminated reproductions of Roman capital and Gothic lowercase letters. These unique titles are best suited to specialized art and design collections.?Judith Yankeilun Lind, Roseland Free
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