La Cava Bible - Decoration


The decoration of the La Cava Bible is limited to the four crosses mentioned above, frames surrounding explicits and titles, and decorated initials. There are two linear, compass drawn Crosses, one serving as frontispiece on folio 1 verso, and the other in the introduction to the prophetical books on folio 143 recto. On folio 100 verso the title frame for the Psalms is in the form of a cross. The text on folio 220 verso, which contains the prefaces by Jerome used to introduce the New Testament, is written in the form of a cross. This text is written in red, white and yellow inks on a blue-stained folio. There is one other folio stained blue and three folios stained purple in this manuscript. The frames surrounding the explicits and titles are similar in form to frames found in the earliest medieval illuminated books. However, Danila exploited brilliant and contrasting hues of color not found in earlier manuscripts. The decorated initials include initial types commonly associated with Merovingian illumination. However similar initials also occurred in Visigothic manuscripts.

It is likely that Danila copied this manuscript from an earlier, now-lost, Visigothic manuscript. The title and explicit frames are similar to those found in early manuscripts and the pages written in coloured inks are related to Late Antique manuscripts written in gold and silver on purple-dyed parchment. (For example, see Rossano Gospels). However Danila's use of colour was probably not present in the original manuscript and anticipates the use of colour in later Spanish manuscripts.

Although Danila may have been aware of Merovingian initials, it is also equally likely that his initials share in common the models for Merovingian initials. The manuscript gives no indication that Danila was influenced by contemporary Carolingian illumination. However, Carolingian Bibles produced under the patronage of Theodulph of Orleans, who had Visigothic parentage, do have similar text and organization to that found in the La Cava Bible, something not found in other similar Carolingian manuscripts.

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