The illuminated initials are painted with liquid gold on to a coloured ground rather than created with gesso and gold leaf, giving them a flat appearance rather than the raised texture of earlier styles of initial. The rope border is also treated with a gold wash. The initial at the beginning of the rubric heading is a bit of a mystery. It looks like a C or a T, but there seems to be no reason why it should be there at all, as without it, the line reads: Oratio ad beatem virginem mariam (Prayer to the blessed Virgin Mary). It also obscures the descender of a g in the line above. It makes you wonder whether the illuminator was an apprentice boy who wasn't too hot in the literacy department, or perhaps he was being payed by the letter and slipped a few extra ones in.
Book of Hours, early 16th century. From a private collection. Photographs © Dianne Tillotson.

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Medieval Writing
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