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 a light pink leaf under magnification (60x), showing the typical craquelure pattern of organic dyes. The FORS spectrum (below) shows the diagnostic features of an insect-based dye and lead white (reflectance minima at c. 525 and 560 nm, absorption bands at 1447 and 2322 nm).
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Detail of the dark pink decoration under magnification (60x), showing the typical craquelure pattern of organic dyes as well as a higher transparency and colour saturation than the light pink hue (hotspot 1). The FORS spectrum (below) shows the same diagnostic features of the insect-based dye that provides the light pink hue, but no absorption bands for lead white.
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Detail of David’s purple mantle under magnification (7.5x), showing the typical craquelure pattern of organic dyes as well as underdrawing and ruling lines, visible through the thin paint layers. The FORS spectrum (below) shows reflectance minima at c. 560 and 580 nm which suggest the presence of a different dye from the one used in pink areas, possibly to be identified as elderberry.
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The XRF spectrum of the brown writing ink allows its identification as iron-gall ink with a very high zinc (Zn) content.

The initial for Psalm 26, showing the Anointing of David, is the main contribution of the Anointing Master, named after this image. The depiction of David, chosen by God to reign as king of Israel and Judah, was ultimately inspired by the biblical heading of the Psalm which states that the young David composed it before his anointing by the prophet Samuel. The initial extends into a full foliate border, incorporating heralds playing trumpets, hybrids, and busts within medallions. The gold, red and white colours of the herald’s banner, shown in the lower margin, match the heraldic and livery colours of the earls of Arundel who were probably associated with the patron of the manuscript.

This colourful page is characterised by a variety of purple, red, tan, light and dark pink hues obtained with different organic dyes, manufactured in different ways (hotspots 1-3). A red dye was also used for the shading on the orange mantle of the figure standing on David’s left side. The writing ink was also analysed on this page, and found to be a typical iron-gall ink which however contains an unusually high amount of zinc, suggesting the use of a specific recipe (hotspot 4).