This quill pen features a real feather and a ballpoint tip.
- Available in red and blue
- Length: 11 to 12 inches
- Item #: PENQUILL2
Detail from Initial Q: Gillion’s Sons Attacking the Encampment of King Bruyant, Lieven van Lathem (Flemish, about 1430–1493) and David Aubert (Flemish, active 1453–1479), from Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies, 1464, Belgium. Ms. 111 (2013.6), fol. 113
The written word was an art form in the medieval world. Artisans including calligraphers, scribes, and illuminators worked together to fill the pages of manuscripts with scrolling vines and delicate pen flourishes, often surrounding captivating narratives set within large letterforms. These decorative embellishments reveal the monetary, cultural, and spiritual value placed on handmade books at the time. The detail on front of this card is from a fifteenth-century Flemish manuscript which follows the adventurous exploits of the nobleman Gillion de Trazegnies, who journeys to Egypt, mistakenly becomes a bigamist, and dies in battle as a glorious hero. Alongside detailed depictions of European architecture and contemporary dress, there are also imaginative references to Eastern travel and customs perceived as exotic at the time, such as camels, flashing scimitars, and figures in turbans. The tale includes faithful love, nefarious villains, family loyalty, and violent combat. The artist, Lieven van Lathem, takes full advantage of the tale’s dramatic possibilities in the book’s eight miniatures and forty-four historiated initials. Lively figures, light-filled landscapes, and complex visual narratives are distinctive traits of his style that reflect the greatest developments of Renaissance panel painting and anticipate others. Rather than having other artists complete the decorations in the margins, as his contemporaries might have, this manuscript also features the elegance and delight of his figures in the borders, too. This is one of only four known manuscripts in French of this romance. Designed to be read aloud, a reader would likely have shown images to the audience and broken off each evening at a cliff-hanger moment to be continued the next evening. The book was commissioned by Louis de Gruuthuse (1422–1492), trusted advisor of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy and one of the great book collectors of the Middle Ages. He amassed a library of almost two hundred volumes at a time when the English royal collection was composed of less than half that number.