Above, from left to right: Saint Jerome (detail), from Life of Saint Paul by Jerome and Life of Saint Guthlac, England, probably Canterbury, probably 2nd quarter of 11th century, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, MS 389; Battle Scene (detail), from Book of Maccabees I, Saint Gall, Switzerland, second half of 9th–early 10th century, Universiteitsbibliotheek, Leiden, Cod. Perizoni F.17; Saint Paul Preaching to the Jews and Gentiles of Rome (detail), from the Pauline Epistles, Saint Gall, Switzerland; second half of ninth century Stiftsbibliothek, Saint Gall, Cod. 64.
The exuberant drawing of Saint Jerome with a quill in his right hand, its tip pressed against the ruled pages of an open book, and, in his left hand, a knife used for sharpening the quill and scraping away mistakes, provides a memorable image of the scribe at work. I’ve always marveled at the resourcefulness of medieval scribes and artists in terms of the preparation of their tools and materials. As if the process of creating folios of parchment were not expensive and time-consuming enough, artists also had to prepare their own pigments and pens. Read more »