San Zeno monastery, Verona, Privileges

University of Oregon Special Collections and University Archives. For a digitization of the entire book, see:

Privilegia et documenta ad monasterium S. Zenonius Maiorii Veronae, 16th century, Edward Burgess manuscript collection 030, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon. MS 30. 

Notice a simple strawberry. The red of the berry feels sumptuous as it darkens around the outer edge of the fruit and seemingly bursts with ripeness. A velvety sweetpea flower balances the strawberry on either side of a blue and red letter "I," transfixed through the center with a luminous pearl. The illuminated initial "I," is  the first letter of the phrase "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" in Latin with which this manuscript begins. Now direct your attention to the background of the strawberry. The red is elevated through a cushion of luminous gold that seems to shimmer in the light. This background can be seen again as your eye trails downwards, present in a swath of gold that outlines the bottom of the page. This cloth-of-gold textile border and its realistic flora and fauna is out of place in this Italian manuscript, which traditionally emphasizes dramatism over naturalism. Noted for their use of silken textile borders and the decorative inclusion of vegetation, this design would more likely be found in luxurious Burgundian devotional texts. This important manuscript documents the privileges, that is, the foundational rights graned to the monastery of San Zeno in Verona. Perhaps the international style of its illumination reflections the monastery's traditional connection to central European centers of power. 

Anna Ritchie