Rare self-portrait of a medieval artist
While a lot of medieval manuscripts with colourful drawings survive, we are usually not shown the artists who decorated the pages. This image is therefore exceptional, because it does. In fact, we see him drawing the decorated letter that contains, well, himself! This is, in other words, a rare medieval self-portrait. The artist shows himself surrounded by paraphernalia of the trade, such as brushes and pots of paint. He even puts his name next to himself, which is atypical for the usually modest monks of the age: “Frater Rufillus”, who was a monk in Weissenau abbey in Ravensburg, Germany, near the end of the 12th century. We catch Rufillus putting the finishing touches on the letter R: the last stroke by a proud monk, who couldn’t help but showing himself to the world.
Pic: Cologny, Collection Martin Bodmer, MS 127 (12th century). More information about (and the full facsimile of) this manuscript here.