The book on how to make all the colour paints for illuminating books: unravelling a Portuguese Hebrew illuminators’ manual

Heritage Science. 2018;6(1):1-8 DOI 10.1186/s40494-018-0208-z

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Heritage Science

ISSN: 2050-7445 (Online)

Publisher: SpringerOpen

LCC Subject Category: Fine Arts | Science: Chemistry: Analytical chemistry

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML, ePUB

 

AUTHORS

Maria J. Melo (Department of Conservation and Restoration and LAQV-REQUIMTE, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon)
Rita Castro (Department of Conservation and Restoration and LAQV-REQUIMTE, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon)
Paula Nabais (Department of Conservation and Restoration and LAQV-REQUIMTE, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon)
Tatiana Vitorino (Department of Conservation and Restoration and LAQV-REQUIMTE, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, NOVA University of Lisbon)

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 19 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

Abstract The book on how to make all the colour paints for illuminating books invites readers to step inside the workshop of a fifteenth century illuminator in Portugal. This illuminator was the carrier of a tradition on how to make colours with ‘which you can illuminate or paint or capitalize or write’ that dates back, at least, to the thirteenth century. This unique knowledge and know-how was carefully preserved in Portuguese language, in Hebrew characters, in a collection of texts now known as Ms. Parma 1959 (Parma, Italy, Biblioteca Palatina, MS 1959, folios 1r–20r). Its ultimate purpose was possibly to assist on the production of Hebrew Bibles, where the precision of the text would have been illuminated by the colours described in this ‘book of all colour paints’. This medieval treatise describes the main steps and ingredients for producing painting materials, such as mosaic gold, red lead, verdigris, brazilwood lake pigments, lac dye red, vermilion, parchment glue, among others. It also instructs on the binding media that should be used to produce the colour paints. In this paper, we will discuss the technical aspects relevant for the success of the making of the painting materials and of the experimentation of this remarkable text, copied in the fifteenth century.