The beautiful illuminated Flemish manuscript, the Huth Hours (c.1485), not only has delightful representations of flowers decorating its margins, but every now and then a bird or animal is depicted within the ornamentation.
Starling detail from the Huth Hours. Flemish 1485-1490. Add. MS38126 f244r
Starling having a splashing time.
Thought to have been produced in either Ghent or Bruges over five hundred and thirty years ago, the Huth Hours contains many miniatures as well as pages of text with decorated borders. It is considered to be the work of Simon Marmion and his workshop in collaboration with other unnamed Master artisans.
Young Great Tit
Great Tit detail from the Huth Hours. Flemish 1485-1490. Add. MS38126 f.179r
Five hundred and thirty years ago sounds a long time to us, but it’s less than a blink of an eye for Mother Nature. Spying birds in the finely decorated margins such as starlings and great tits, and then spying the same species in my back garden evoked a wistful sigh from me as I contemplated the cycling of the years and the passing of the centuries.
Possibly a Blue Tit detail from the Huth Hours. Flemish 1485-1490. Add. MS38126 f.156r
Blue Tit at the bird bath.
When I was a teenager my family visited El Escorial, Spain. It was a memorable experience as apart from queuing down a marble staircase to visit the Pantheon of the Kings, it was the first time I saw a medieval illuminated manuscript. In fact, the library of El Escorial now, like many of the world’s great libraries, shares its collection online and thanks to digitisation we can all scrutinise these exquisitely decorated manuscripts.
Detail from the Huth Hours. Flemish 1485-1490. Add. MS38126 f223r
I’ve recently been looking for inspiration from the collection of illuminated manuscripts held by the British Library. And, a Flemish Book of Hours, the Huth Hours (Add. MS 38126), created some time between 1485 and 1490 contains a selection of beautiful wild flower and bird illustrations. These strawberry flowers and bluebells caught my attention.
Bluebells detail from the Huth Hours. Flemish 1485-1490. Add. MS38126 f82v
Repeating a simple bluebell shape, but
not entirely sure about the colours so far – will probably add a little brown.