December 13, 1966. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson (in the yellow dress), and guests from the black tie dinner for the National Council of the Arts pose for pictures next to the Christmas tree in the Blue Room. According to the Daily Diary, the guest list includes Duke Ellington, David Brinkley, Gregory Peck, Sydney Poitier, Harper Lee, and Leonard Bernstein.
LBJ Presidential Library photos #c4023-27 and c4023-29, public domain.
Amputation instruments, U.S. Sanitary Commission.
King Charles II of England (1630-1685) would rub mummy dust on his skin, believing “Greatness” would rub off.
The process of illumination
The following steps outline the detailed labor involved to create the illuminations of one page of a manuscript:
- Silverpoint drawing of the design were executed
- Burnished gold dots applied
- The application of modulating colors
- Continuation of the previous three steps in addition to the outlining of marginal figures
- The penning of a rinceaux appearing in the border of a page
- The final step, the marginal figures are painted
The illumination and decoration was normally planned at the inception of the work, and space reserved for it. However normally the text was written before illumination began. In the Early Medieval period the text and illumination were often done by the same people, normally monks, but by the High Middle Ages the roles were typically separated, except for routine initials and flourishes, and by at least the 14th century there were secular workshops producing manuscripts, and by the beginning of the 15th century these were producing most of the best work, and were commissioned even by monasteries. When the text was complete, the illustrator set to work. Complex designs were planned out beforehand, probably on wax tablets, the sketch pad of the era. The design was then traced or drawn onto the vellum (possibly with the aid of pinpricks or other markings, as in the case of the Lindisfarne Gospels). Many incomplete manuscripts survive from most periods, giving us a good idea of working methods.
At all times, most manuscripts did not have images in them. In the early Middle Ages, manuscripts tend to either be display books with very full illumination, or manuscripts for study with at most a few decorated initials and flourishes. By the Romanesque period many more manuscripts had decorated or historiated initials, and manuscripts essentially for study often contained some images, often not in color. This trend intensified in the Gothic period, when most manuscripts had at least decorative flourishes in places, and a much larger proportion had images of some sort. Display books of the Gothic period in particular had very elaborate decorated borders of foliate patterns, often with small drolleries. A Gothic page might contain several areas and types of decoration: a miniature in a frame, a historiated initial beginning a passage of text, and a border with drolleries. Often different artists worked on the different parts of the decoration.
Article and pictures via Wikipedia
May 11, 482/483: Justinian I is born.
Justinian the Great was emperor of the Byzantine Empire for thirty-eight years. During his reign, he sought to reunite the Roman Empire - East and West - under his rule, and he came close to succeeding. His main general Flavius Belisarius (regarded, like Justinian, as one of the “last of the Romans”) invaded North Africa and Italy and launched partially successful campaigns against the Germanic Vandals and Ostrogoths, respectively. By 550, Italy and parts of North Africa and Hispania had been reconquered, although much of these lands would soon be lost during the Muslim Conquests.
Justinian and his influential wife Theodora were also ambitious builders; most notably, they ordered the rebuilding of the “Great Church” after the it was burned down during the Nika riots. The result of their project was the Hagia Sophia - a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture and the center of the Orthodox Church until the 15th century. Although regarded by some as despotic, Justinian ruled over a Byzantine Empire revived in the arts and in culture, and his Corpus Juris Civilis (“the Code of Justinian”), a comprehensive attempt to organize Roman law, was heavily studied even after the fall of Constantinople.
Badass motherfucker of a Byzantine
My brother bought me a roman coin from a coin dealer in NYC.
Today I showed it to my mediterranean history professor, he exclaimed ‘well, Jesus might have bought chicken rice with that coin!’ Later, he sent me the following email:
The bit that I described to you as a ‘shield’ is actually what is called a ‘fulmen’ (a winged fulmen, to be precise) - the bundled thunderbolts of Jupiter/Zeus. This device was regularly depicted on legionnaires shields going back to republican times, and that is how I initially recognized it, but without catching its larger significance. As I read the coin now, I believe that the coin was intended to be a pious commemoration of Tiberius’ adopted father and predecessor, Octavius Augustus. After Octavian’s death in 14 AD, Tiberius decided to follow Greek tradition a la Alexander and the Diadochoi by deifying his predecessor, the first Roman emperor, as “Augustus Divus” - the Divine Augustus ( ‘divus’ denoting ’a mortal become a god’). The fulmen would have reinforced the association between Augustus and the ‘emperor of the Gods’, Jupiter. This means, though, that 14 AD would be the very earliest that this coin could have been minted since he could not become a divus until after death. The initials S.C. stand for “senatus consulto” - by decree of the Senate - and is a standard marking for Roman bronze coins.
Anyway - thanks for the puzzle, that was fun! Now, reluctantly, I must get back to real work….sigh.
Feb. 3, 1953: The mailroom of the White House. “Clerks process 4,000 to 5,000 pieces of mail on an average day,” the caption read. Photo: Geroge Tames/The New York Times