This Folio Life: Choosing the images for our 2018 Diary

The Folio Diary 2018 features all things medieval, with 55 full-page images ranging from the everyday, such as the doodles of scribes testing their pens, to the more unusual and the very beautiful. Here are some of our favourite images, as well as one that didn’t make it into the final selection.

Saint Jerome Extracting a Thorn from a Lion’s Paw is one of our favourites, a brilliantly colourful and quite surprising depiction of the biblical story. Saint Jerome is in the foreground, concentrating on the tricky business of the thorn extraction, but it was the monk behind them, waiting fearfully with ointment and bandage, who caught our attention. He does look extremely worried.

‘Saint Jerome Extracting a Thorn from a Lion’s Paw’ by Master of the Murano Gradual. Probably from an Italian choir book, c.1475. (Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program)

‘Saint Jerome Extracting a Thorn from a Lion’s Paw’ by Master of the Murano Gradual. Probably from an Italian choir book, c.1475. (Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program)

Another favourite is from The Book of Chess Problems. The diary does include a number of complex artworks and calligraphy as well as mythical beasts, so it is quite refreshing to jump to the simplicity of a chessboard and then try to imagine the mind that lay behind it.

The Book of Chess Problems, France, late 14th century

The Book of Chess Problems, France, late 14th century

At several points throughout the diary we’ve included details from illuminated manuscripts and reproduced them at full page size. The challenge here was to obtain very high-quality photography that would enable us to reproduce small details at this much greater size. Examples of these details include a man catching bees in week 5; a mermaid in week 45; and a knight praying to a snail in week 11. Below is a detail from an Italian manuscript that we were particularly pleased with because the quality of the colour was superb, really clear and vibrant.

A flower garden. From the Carmina regia, Italy, c.1335–40. Royal 6 E. IX, f.15v (British Library/Bridgeman Images)

A flower garden. From the Carmina regia, Italy, c.1335–40. Royal 6 E. IX, f.15v (British Library/Bridgeman Images)

Detail from A flower garden. From the Carmina regia, Italy, c.1335–40. Royal 6 E. IX, f.15v (British Library/Bridgeman Images)

Detail from a flower garden. From the Carmina regia, Italy, c.1335–40. Royal 6 E. IX, f.15v (British Library/Bridgeman Images)

Below is one that, sadly and despite our best efforts, didn’t make the final selection. It shows a selection of urine samples used to identify different diseases. As fascinating as this was, we felt it wasn’t quite attractive enough to make it into the diary. We’d looked at a range of material concerning medieval medical matters and instead we opted for the marvellous ‘Wound Man’ in week 17, which we hope won’t disappoint.

Columns of urine flasks from Epiphanie Medicorum by Ullrich Pinder, 1506 (Wellcome Collection CC BY)

Columns of urine flasks from Epiphanie Medicorum by Ullrich Pinder, 1506 (Wellcome Collection CC BY)

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