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Re: VMs: Re: Important

Hi GC,

At 18:16 26/06/2004 -0600, GC wrote:
That is, assuming the painter and the author were different.  Or the author,
painter, and illustrator were different.  If I'm correct and the bifolios
were filled in when flat (I'm not saying there wasn't some plan to the later
bifolios, just the herbal section), then painting them while flat would be
the easiest way to go.  You may be underestimating the toll almost 500 years
of weathering can have on a book, even in a box.

Whether it was the easiest way to go or not is less the issue than determining what actually happened. A very small number of the colour transfers in the VMs are clearly water stains: colour transfers occur both left-to-right and right-to-left: most colour transfers (that I found) are in the herbal section: one pair of colour transfers goes both ways on the same pair of pages.

My explanation is that these are instances of bleed-across which happened at the time the VMs was made, probably because the paint used was too heavy for the thin vellum - and if you accept that, you can run miles with it. :-) Your explanation is that, well, half a millennium is a long time to be sat in a box and so anything might have happened.

Personally, I've never seen colour transfers (and especially bleed-through) on the scale found in the VMs in other mss, but that doesn't mean I'm right. Perhaps we should find some expert opinions on mss' aging to broaden this rather polarised debate here.

At the same time, you now seem to accept the idea that colour in the VMs might not be quite as important as we once suspected, so perhaps I'm making progress after all. :-)

A scribal shop would have discarded this or found another
use for it, like binding filler, etc., but would not have included such
material in anything they sold as a copy.

I fully agree that there's nothing about the VMs which suggests it came from a scribal shop.

Because I see something in one section, it doesn't mean
the other sections are obliged to follow the same rules.  What you guys are
doing with the later sections may be far more appropriate for those sections
that what I did with the herbal section, since they're not from the same
time in the author's life.

If we can reconstruct the correct bifolio order - whether herbal, balneo, cosmo, or stars - I predict that we will find that the VMs' content is actually far more ordered than it superficially appears. I think that in the VMs' herbal section, for example, we may well be able to reconstruct quire themes, making a single page not just an isolated unit of thought, but part of a wider group of thoughts. If we can understand the theme of a reconstructed quire (poisons, eye remedies, whatever), this might help us narrow down the visual matches, and so try to move forward.

You've forced me to dig up some notes I made back when this was fresh in my
mind, so here's what I know.

Bifolios 10, 12, 20 and 24 are a set.  I'd have to do some pretty fancy
figuring to tell you which came first, the chicken or the egg, but these are
an [a1] set.  11, 13, 24 and 27 are an [a1] set.  14, 18, 21 and 23 are a
[b1] set.  Bifolio 17 as a misplaced [b1] sits in the midst of these, but
has no connection.   24 and 27 were my interest at the time, so I know these
were written consecutively in their order.  Several others exhibit
connections between one side of the bifolio and a side of another bifolio,
as if they were in a stack of blank bifolios, illustrated, text added, all
on one side, then the stack was flipped over.

What caught my eye about these numbers is that they are groups of four, and
four bifolios form a quire. I also didn't miss the fact that the [a1]
groupings were even and odd in their present order, but I never attached a
meaning to this.

Thanks very much, this is heady stuff! I'll have to go away, document this properly, and play with the herbal bifolio order for a while...

I always
thought I was saying that the VMS started out an herbal, but became
something different, more comprehensive, as the author's knowledge grew.

I too think that this is what happened - but I'm far from convinced that the VMs itself is that original accreting document. Instead, I suspect that the VMs was a copy of that herbal-first document.

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

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