The Macclesfield Psalter

Modelling of draperies

Artists' Techniques

Pink, purple, green and blue draperies were modelled with gradations of colour. Orange robes, on the other hand, have a homogeneous base layer over which the artist applied a red dye. Only in a few instances were dark outlines added as a final step; in most cases, it is the contrast between white and colour – or between orange and red – which defines the drapery folds.

A particular modelling technique, observed for example on fols. 1v and 77r, involves the juxtaposition of mosaic gold and verdigris.

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Detail of St Andrew’s tunic under magnification (16x), where diagonal lines of underdrawing can be seen under the orange paint layer. The lower hem is outlined in black and decorated in lead white with a pattern of thin lines and circles. The FORS spectrum (below) identifies the orange pigment as red lead (transition edge at 564 nm).
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Detail of the purple mantle under magnification (60x), showing the colour gradation from white to dark purple and the typical craquelure of organic dyes. The FORS spectrum (below) shows reflectance minima at c. 550 and 584 nm, suggesting the presence of a purple dye, likely extracted from a lichen.
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Detail of the inner lining of St Andrew’s mantle under magnification (60x), showing the alternating stripes of green and shiny yellow which contribute to the modelling. The elements observed in the XRF spectrum (bellow) allow the identification of these materials as verdigris (which contains copper, Cu) and mosaic gold (which contains tin, Sn and sulphur, S).

St Andrew, the first apostle to follow Christ, was venerated throughout Christendom. He is shown holding a small book and a saltire cross, the symbol of his martyrdom. His pose is similar to that of St Edmund who is depicted on the previous page, but Andrew’s face is contorted with anguish and sorrow, unlike the serene countenance of St Edmund, the East Anglian king.

St Andrew’s plain orange tunic is painted with red lead, and simple decorations at the hem contain lead white. Thick underdrawing lines are visible through the paint layer in some areas (hotspot 1). The saint’s purple mantle, however, conveys a more three-dimensional effect, obtained with a gradation of colour. The hue, which was favoured by English artists of the first half of the 14th century, was obtained from an organic dye, likely extracted from a lichen, such as orchil (hotspot 2). The inner folds of the mantle are skilfully modelled with alternating stripes of mosaic gold and verdigris (hotspot 3), in a pattern which appears in contemporary English and French manuscripts.