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Paint It Black
November 19, 2011 5:50 AM   Subscribe

The Morgan Library Black Hours, one of the world's most beautiful and striking illuminated manuscripts, has been digitized in its entirety. Richly decorated in blue and gold on black vellum, it is one of a surviving handful of such manuscripts produced in late 15th century Bruges. (Poorer quality, but still interesting, images of another such work, the Black Hours of Charles the Bold, are also online.
posted by Horace Rumpole (21 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite

 
Protip: Make sure you click on the Full Screen button, and then you have to click a couple more times to actually get it to go full size. I'm not the biggest fan of the interface, but once you get these images to fill up your monitor, it is so worth it.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:56 AM on November 19, 2011


This is beautiful, and pretty darned cool, but am I alone in thinking that "The Morgan Library Black Hours" sounds like a lost Edward Gorey book, and "The Black Hours of Charles the Bold" might be a Gorey/T.H. White mash-up?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:08 AM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, gorgeous and lush. Had not seen those. Reminds me of some of the chiaroscuro woodblock prints from a bit later where they'd start with prepared paper and print with metallic-colored inks.
posted by Capybara at 6:10 AM on November 19, 2011


The Morgan also has a number of interesting musical manuscripts online. [list of compositions]
posted by woodblock100 at 6:12 AM on November 19, 2011


It also reminds me a bit of the Purple Psalter of Zurich, where the pages are stained (now rather faded) purple and the letters are in silver. The whole thing has been disassembled for preservation, so the effect is somewhat lost.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:14 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


am I alone in thinking that "The Morgan Library Black Hours" sounds like a lost Edward Gorey book

Seems to me a Black Hours should be used for private, reflective Satan-worshipping. Like if you can't get enough people together for a Black Mass, you just stay home and have Satanic Vespers.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:22 AM on November 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


How beautiful! I hadn't heard of this before. I'm off to explore!
posted by saucysault at 7:12 AM on November 19, 2011


I'm not the biggest fan of the interface, but once you get these images to fill up your monitor, it is so worth it.

That interface seems to have been carefully designed to suck, but the images are indeed worth it.
posted by three blind mice at 7:46 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lovely, thanks. The full screen tip is a big help; you have to struggle a bit longer but eventually you can take screenshots.

I visited Bruges a few years ago and there's a lovely collection of Dutch Masters. What fascinated me was that the earlier paintings had much more vibrant, beautiful colours. It was explained that over the centuries Bruges' fortunes declined so they couldn't import as good a paint. But I wonder if it was just an æsthetic choice. These scans are great in showing such rich colour.
posted by Nelson at 7:52 AM on November 19, 2011


Fabulous - thank you Horace Rumpole!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:32 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Flemish masters-- different country even back then) The main problem at the end of the 15th c in Bruges, IIRC, is that on one hand the merchants pissed off the dukes and later the emperor, and then the river silted up and they couldn't get enough cash to dredge it, and a lot of trade headed to Antwerp. Not a lot of painters (a handful, though) continued to work in Bruges.
posted by Capybara at 8:35 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


OH MY GOD I would pay irrational amounts of money for a facsimile edition of this.
posted by everichon at 9:32 AM on November 19, 2011


Is $5900 sufficiently irrational?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:49 AM on November 19, 2011


$5900

sigh
posted by everichon at 9:53 AM on November 19, 2011


What i was sort of suprised at, was how legible the text was...i also love that the book of hours used black for night.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:54 AM on November 19, 2011


Formerly owned by the Bishop of the Black Canons?
posted by verstegan at 10:54 AM on November 19, 2011


Bibliophilegasm. Thanks for posting!
posted by New England Cultist at 12:36 PM on November 19, 2011


So gorgeous. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
posted by immlass at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2011


Is $5900 sufficiently irrational?

I could weep that I don't have the money to buy this facsimile but I know that, if I did, I would promptly begin to covet the original! The original and the library restored with the three-story walnut bookcases. I would suffer. What I have is a big, beautiful monitor and posts like this one on Metafilter and it is enough--it is luxury itself. I am transported. Thank you, Horace Rumpole.
posted by Anitanola at 3:22 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mmmmmmmm, luscious!
posted by BlueHorse at 6:13 PM on November 19, 2011


There's more about that facsimile MS at the high end Munich printers, Faksimile Verlag [trans] but it's sold out. They have quite a selection of reproductions available if you're in the hunt for $$multi-thousand manuscripts.
posted by peacay at 11:04 PM on November 19, 2011


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