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Re: VMs: 1006184 & 1006185

Hi everyone,

At 12:11 10/06/2004 +0100, William Edmondson wrote:
But I'd like to know more about the processes of stylization in the drawings. For example, is it known if certain copiers made stylizations in certain ways (leaf shape, flower shape...)??? That might give us a handle on the chain of drawings leading to VMS.

Tracing which mss are based on which other mss (ie, building up a tree of stylistic correspondences and copying errors) is exactly what herbal researchers like Sergio Toresella do. But before you get too excited, it should be pointed out that many, many herbal researchers have already looked carefully at the VMs - and all conclude that it is not a part of any known tradition.

Incidentally, during the 15th century (roughly speaking), a new way of drawing the world emerged (which many art historians trace back to Giotto), based on close (and sympathetic) observation of nature. These were drawn from nature, not copied from mss - and this is where I think about 50% of the VMs' herbal drawings originated from. If I look at f1v, f2v, f9v, f17v, f20r, f21r and yes, even f5v, I think I can see a botanical guiding principle at play (through a distorting medium). Yet f40r, f40v, f43r, f46r, f46v, f50r seem to have something else going on. Furthermore, Sergio Toresella mentions that the drawing on f33r reminds him of drawings of acetosa in alchemical herbals.

I honestly believe that multiple ends are being served by these pictures, and so each one has to be taken on its own merits.

Some plants are of course native to wide areas and so never had to be introduced. The wild strawberry is native to all of northern Europe - no need to hide seeds or plants - just go outside and gather as ye may (this also suggests it is not much changed over the centuries).

Plants face competition in the wild, too - until you invest the time in researching the history of even one plant (say, wild strawberry?) properly, your "plants-haven't-changed-much-in-500-years" assertion/presumption seems hard to support.

Maybe just count me as deeply doubtful.... but I return to my major concern. If we are to build a wiki site we must be really really careful not to misinform or cast speculation as certainty. If we do we'll prevent others from coming up with alternative ideas.

Who's claiming certainty? The point of a Wiki is collaborate to try to build up a balanced view, both of observations and suggestions. The reason I keep suggesting looking at the mailing list archives is that you will undoubtedly be surprised not by any paucity of ideas, but rather by the sheer volume of them. If we could shoehorn even 10% of that ingenuity into an easily-accessible Wiki, we'd have a much better-informed debate here. Let us be content to start with doubts, and try to work towards certainty. :-)

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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