Sunday, February 11, 2007

An Early Illustration of Halfswording in Morgan Library MS 804, ca. 1410

In Chaucer’s World, Edith Rickert reproduces an illumination showing halfswording in fol. 128 of Morgan Library, New York, MS 804: a copy of Froissart’s Chronicles attributed to Guillaume de Bailly. In A Mirror of Chaucer’s World, Roger Sherman Loomis dates this manuscript to ca. 1410. Millard Meiss, in The Limbourgs and Their Contemporaries, gives a slighter later estimate. He dates the manuscript to ca. 1412, but ascribes much of the illumination to the Boethius Illuminator, who was most active between approximately 1414 and 1420. Given what is known of his career, the manuscript is more likely to date after 1412 than before.


Azaroth said...

Having examined the manuscript first hand during my Ph.D, it seems likely that the 'half sword' technique was actually a painter's technique: The knights in the copy-book which the illuminator was using were likely wielding spears rather than swords. In other images in the manuscript you can clearly see overpainting in battle scenes for weapons and armor.

Sorry! :)

Robert Charrette said...

So, are you saying that half-swording technique did not existing except in a painter's imagination?

Azaroth said...

Yes. In Morgan 804 it's just overpainting spears with swords, or (in other cases) taking a pattern book that had spears in the pattern and replacing them with swords. Compare (if you get a chance) f16r, f25r, f117r (holding spears) and f128r and f176v (holding swords)