The Colors of the Pearl-Gawain Manuscript: The Questions that Launched a Scientific Analysis

For this school year’s exciting inaugural post, Maidie Hilmo shares her request for a scientific analysis of the Pearl-Gawain manuscript (British Library, MS Cotton Nero A.x), containing the unique copy of the Middle English poems: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It shows the kind of questions that help gain access to the viewing of original manuscripts and can result in a technological investigation of specific details. Bringing together science and art history, Hilmo has uncovered evidence that “the scribe was also the draftsperson of the underdrawings. It appears that the painted layers of the miniatures were added by one or more colorists, while the large flourished initials beginning the text of the poems were executed by someone with a different pigment not used in the miniatures.” The results of this request to the British Library—comprising the detailed report on the pigments by Dr. Paul Garside and a set of enhanced images by Dr. Christina Duffy, the Imaging Scientist — will become available on the Cotton Nero A.x Project website and, selectively, in publications by Hilmo, including: “Did the Scribe Draw the Miniatures in British Library, MS Cotton Nero A.x (The Pearl-Gawain Manuscript)?,” forthcoming in the Journal of the Early Book Society; and “Re-conceptualizing the Poems of the Pearl-Gawain Manuscript,” forthcoming in Manuscript Studies. To learn more, check out her special project here on our site.

3 Replies to “The Colors of the Pearl-Gawain Manuscript: The Questions that Launched a Scientific Analysis”

  1. The website extension indicates that it is the university in the USA (I’m not sure how many people wouldn’t immediately realize this is the university in South Bend). Educational institutions outside of the US usually are denoted by other extensions (such as .ac). Following the university website address would also allude to the location.

  2. May I suggest you add something to the header to indicate which ‘University of Notre Dame’ this is. The only one entitled to be presumed by default is the original, in Paris.

    There is another in Australia, and in America.. and various others for all I know. It would be helpful to have the blog’s title address, as well as your address, as a hint.

    That said, a fine post and I’ve linked to it in connection with Isidore’s Etymologiae, Bk. 1.xxx.

    1. Thanks for your comment and the link! We are affiliated with the American institution, and your point is completely fair. Unfortunately, I have no control over the blue header bar on our site. All sites within ND’s blog network automatically receive it. As we move forward with our site development, I plan to add an “about us” page that will certainly specify where we are located.

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