Dr. Paola Ricciardi demonstrates spectroscopy

Today the Parker Library hosted some much more modern equipment than the usual cutting-edge medieval book technology that we tend to handle!

A team from the Miniare project at the Fitzwilliam Museum came to analyse the pigments in volume two of the Dover Bible (MS 4) using spectroscopy- a method of bouncing light off of pigments to determine their chemical makeup. This requires surrounding darkness and a small point of light that goes into the infrared and ultraviolet range, which is then reflected off of whatever pigment, ink, or other surface that is being studied.

The Dover Bible is an aptly-named ‘giant Bible’ from the 12th century, measuring a massive 532 x 360mm and containing multiple illuminated and historiated initials. MSS 3 and 4 form the two-volume bible that was made for Dover Priory, a dependency of Christ Church Cathedral Priory, in Canterbury. It was a truly high-spec production, not only in the unusual size of the books, but in the quality of the bright colours created by rare minerals that were carefully sourced, processed, and applied. The goal of the spectroscopy study is to determine which pigments were used in its production and how the materials used to make the pigments- lapis, vermillion, copper, ultramarine, minium, azurite, lead, organics, etc.-  correspond to known art historical trends.

March ImageThere are relatively few German manuscripts in the Parker Library. This is a unique illustrated chronicle of the Holy Roman emperors, probably made around 1114, perhaps in Würzburg, for Matilda (1102-1167), daughter of Henry I of England, to teach her about the ancestors of her new husband, the Emperor Henry V, whom she married in that year. It contains portraits of his imperial predecessors from Pipin, father of Charlemagne, to Henry V himself. This picture shows his namesake, the great Henry IV, emperor 1084-1105, seated on his throne: he was crowned by the pope in Rome on Easter Day, Sunday 31 March 1084. [MS 373, folio 60r]


The 2014 Panizzi Lectures were given by Donnelley Fellow Librarian, Dr Christopher de Hamel. The first, on Monday 27th October looked principally at the Bury Bible, now in the Parker Library.



There are more details about the lectures, which take place at the British Library, here.





You can now see a 3D view of the Parker Library here:




CCC MS 180, f. 1r, detail


10- 11 April 2014

Parker Library, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

Following the success of last year’s Parker Library symposium and exhibition on Herbert of Bosham, it was decided to establish an annual event celebrating important but neglected figures in English medieval history.  Adam Easton (d.1397) is long overdue for serious scholarly attention.  The image shown here is from Easton’s copy of the De pauperie salvatoris of Richard FitzRalph, archbishop of Armagh (Parker Library MS 180).

The full conference programme and booking form are now available.

Please email the Parker Library staff if you have any questions.

MS 180, f.1r

A two day conference on Adam of Easton will be held in the Parker Library on 10 & 11 April 2014. Speakers will include Anne Hudson, Lynda Dennison, Patrick Zutshi & Nicholas Vincent.

The full conference programme and application form will be available here in the early spring. In the meantime, please contact Dr Joan Greatrex with any questions.

The Parker Library was turned into a party space last week when we held a book launch.  Dr Mara Kalnins, Life Fellow of the College, and formerly University Reader in Modern English Literature, is the author of The Ancient Amber Routes: Travels from Riga to Byzantium. It is part tourist guide, part travelogue, but mainly a cultural history of  the ancient amber routes and a catalogue of amber artefacts.

There is no British distributor, but the book can be purchased from The Baltic Shop for £40, inclusive of postage and packing.  Alternatively, please email Dr Kalnins, who will arrange to have a copy sent to you.


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