Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Vatican Virgil

This is a page from the Vatican Virgil (Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Cod. Vat. lat. 3225). This is one of the oldest surviving illuminated manuscripts, dating to about 400. It is one of only three surviving illustrated manuscripts of classical literature from the classical period. In a one sense, this is where manuscript illumination started. The style is similar to the frescoes found at Pompeii and in the Roman catacombs. They are typical of late Roman painting, showing an illusionistic treatment of space and modeling of the human form. There are 77 surviving leaves with 50 illustrations. The manuscript originally probably had about 440 leaves and 280 illustrations.

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