An inspirational aquilegia


Long the love of monks scratching away in the scriptorium, the aquilegia, known to medievalists and monks alike as the columbine, has decorated scores of illuminated manuscripts.

st dominic illumination
Exquisite aquilegia from Saint Dominic illuminated page.
Flemish c.1510-1520
Tempera colours, gold, and ink on parchment
The J. Paul Getty Museum
Aquilegia part of the border decoration of a medieval antiphoner.  Mainz, c1490 V&A MS 609
Aquilegia part of the border decoration of a medieval antiphoner.
Mainz, c1490
V&A MS 609

The various shapes and colours of aquilegias offer plenty of combinations to get the creative juices flowing. Their form can be rendered into simple, quite graphic representations. They are shapes I often return to.

Hello, hello - spot the fly!
Hello, hello – spot the fly!
Agnes Ashe Green Silk Scarf

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

8 thoughts on “An inspirational aquilegia”

  1. I love your work and I also liked seeing how it fit into the tradition. And I think columbines are just the most graceful flower – you must enjoy working with them as a subject!

    1. Thank you and yes – I really appreciate columbines as they are so diverse and each season new seedlings turn up in slightly different variations. Don’t you just love nature when she wears a glamorous dress?

  2. What a lovely seamless combination of flowers, script and fabric – it all flows together. I didn’t recognize the columbines on your scarf or the medieval pages until you identified them – thanks!

    1. Actually there are much better early medieval examples of how creative the monks were, but unfortunately I couldn’t find them on the Internet. Part of the problem is you can’t photograph very early medieval manuscripts well as they are only displayed in very low light levels and you can NEVER use flash. However, I have been very privileged to see some beautiful early illuminated manuscripts at the British Library (out of their boxes so as to speak) as my old Art History Professor was friends with some of the staff.

      1. What a privilege…interesting to think of these monks so long ago creating such beauty – must have made their lives more fulfilled.

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