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Model book

Maker(s) &

, production, Tuscany, Florence, probably Florence


illuminated manuscript


leaf (manuscript); sub-category
fragment (manuscript); sub-category
other; type of text


circa 1150 circa 1175


twelfth century, third quarter


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, i paper flyleaf + 3 fols. (late medieval pagination 27-29 in brown ink) + i paper flyleaf, 230 x 145 mm, pricking in outer margins.

BINDING: 1980s, quarter brown morocco, marbled paper over wooden boards, by the Cockerell bindery.

CONTENTS: fols. 1r-3v Designs for twenty-two letters in the Latin alphabet

ORNAMENTATION: Ink drawings for initials filled with white vine-scroll and accompanied by designs for Evangelist symbols, animals, birds and foliate ornament: fol. 1r Designs for foliate ornament, the Zodiac sign of Pisces, and seven initials: two A initials with addorsed birds between them, B, C, two D initials, the second one extending into a bird, and Q formed of a dragon biting its tail; fol. 1v Designs for five initials: R, T, Y, X, U; fol. 2r Designs for six initials: M with a bird, O, L, N, and two S initials, the second one formed of a dragon; fol. 2v Designs for foliate ornament and five initials: C, E with a bird, N, Q extending into a dragon, and G with a dragon head and man climbing among vines; fol. 3r Designs for two roundels with the Evangelist symbols of St Matthew and St Luke, and five initials: F, P extending into a dragon’s head spewing foliage, H with two birds, I, and K.

Two illuminated initials with white vine-scroll on blue and buff ground, within thin red frames: fol. 3v Initials C and O.


illumination; whole


parchment; support
ink; medium
gold; medium




presented; 1972; Wormald, Mrs (Francis)


Francis Wormald (1904-1972), acquired before May 1958; presented to the Museum by Mrs Wormald in 1972 in accordance with her late husband’s wishes.


Wormald, Mrs (Francis); previous owner


These three folios are the earliest pattern sheets for ornamental initials known to survive from the medieval period. They are an important document for the rise of professional artists and their methods of work. The faint sketches in plummet are still visible beneath the ink drawing and the use of a ruler and compasses can be detected in most letters. The shape, style and colour of the initials, figures and scroll-work find close parallels in Florentine manuscripts from the middle through the third quarter of the twelfth century, such as a Bible and a Homiliary (Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, MS Mugel. 2 and London, British Library, MS Harley 7183; Berg 1968, no. 74, figs. 125-31, and no. 106, figs. 132-37;


A illuminura em Portugal: Indentidade e Influências. 1999 - 1999
Organiser: Biblioteca Nacional, Lisbon,
Venue: Biblioteca Nacional
Catalogue number: VII

Pen and Parchment: The Art of Drawing in the Middle Ages. 2009 - 2009
Venue: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Catalogue number: 33

Splendours of Italian Illumination: Romanesque - Gothic - Renaissance. 1989 - 1990
Organiser: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Cambs.), UK
Venue: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Catalogue number: 5


Wormald, F. and Giles, P. M.. 1982. A descriptive catalogue of the additional illuminated manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): p. 555-57

Alexander, J. J. G.. 1978. The Decorated Letter.London:
p. 24-25, pl. XXV

Gullick, M.. 1979. A Working Alphabet of Initial Letters from Twelfth Century Tuscany: A Facsimile of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 83-1972.Hitchin:

Golob, N.. 1996. Twelfth-Century Cistercian Manuscripts: The Sitticum Collection.Ljubljana:
pp. 88-89, 210 n. 19

Miranda, M. A.. 1999. A illuminura em Portugal: Indentidade e Influências.Lisbon:
cat. no. VII

Holcomb, M.. 2009. Pen and Parchment: The Art of Drawing in the Middle Ages.New York:
cat. no. 33

Alexander, J. J. G.. 1992. Matteo da Milano, Illuminator.
Source Title: Pantheon 50 (1992) : 32-45

pp. 94, 126, fig. 154

Middeldorf Kosegarten, A.. 2002-03. Die hässlichen Abtissen: Versuch über die frühen Grabmäler in Quedlinburg.
Source Title: Zeitschrift des Deutschen Vereins für Kunstwissenschaft 56-57 (2002-03) : 9-47

Middeldorf Kosegarten 2002-2003


Object Number: MS 83-1972
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 176496; input: 2010-04-14; modified: 2012-08-29)


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