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

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalHeritage Science
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Illuminations
  • Medieval
  • Paints
  • Pigments
  • Portuguese Hebrew
  • Recipe
  • Treatise

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