Archangel Michael, fresco from the Nereditsa Church, 1199

Nereditsa Church had one of the most well-preserved fresco complexes of Medieval Rus period.

The photo was taken in 1930s. During the World War II, Nereditsa Church was  destroyed almost completely. Later, in 1950s, the church itself was restored, but frescoes could not be saved. 

Hi! I’m a bb!scribe and I was wondering if you knew anywhere to find reference pictures for buildings in manuscripts. I got challenged to do a scroll with a tower on it, and my usual haunts for this weren’t turning anything up (my google fu is weak). I tend to spend more time in later period French, but any time frame is good for the challenge (except for the hyper-realistic Dutch that I cannot draw and paint to save my life). Thank you so much!

Ohmygosh tell me about it. Trompe-l’œil makes me cry. It’s beautiful, but I am a paste-eating child when I’m asked to attempt it. Tasty, tasty paste.

BTW, I’m totally doing the mental super-sekrit-scribal-handshake. Rock on, scribes! And welcome! (Also, bb!scribe makes me giggle. <3)

First of, Google is weird when it comes to finding specific images in illuminated manuscripts. My two absolute favorite resources are the British Library and the Bodleian Library. There are, of course, plenty of other libraries and institutions that have digitized cataloges that you can search, but BL and Bodl are my go-tos.

I have written about how to search these two resources – you can find those blog posts here: [British Library 1] [British Library 2] [Bodleian Library]

Okay – Towers.

BableStone: 72 Views of the Tower of Babel – This blog has a cool run-down of various images of the Tower of Babel in manuscripts, along with citations (yea citations!) and links. If the links don’t work, use the shelf/manuscript number to search the collection (those links should work) and find it. (I’m having some issues with it, so if you run into problems, let me know and I will help you track down individual images.

I really like this one.

illustration by Michiel van der Borch to Jacob van Maerlant’s Rhimebible
MMW, 10 B 21 folio 9v
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, Netherlands
Netherlands (Utrecht), 1332

“Tower of Babel” or “Babel” would be good search terms to use in Bodley and BL. “Building” and “architecture” aren’t bad, but you will get less.

A lot of 12th and 13th century portraiture use architectural elements for framing, like this portrait of King Solomon:


Additional 11639  f. 116
Miscellany of biblical and other texts (‘The Northern French Miscellany’ or earlier ‘the British Museum Miscellany’): including the Pentateuch, Haftarot, Tiqqun Sofrim, Five Scrolls, prayer book for the entire year with Haggadah, legal texts, poetry, calendars, Book of Tobit in Hebrew, etc.
France, N.

The Visconti Hours also has some cool architectural elements to it, but it’s a later period. It’s not tromp, but it’s still more realistic than earlier stuff. It’s not fully digitized online, but you can pick up a facsimile copy (with notes) for fairly cheap.


LF 155, Visconti Hours – The Gates of Gaza
National Library, Florence
Facsimile to purchase: [Abebooks]Facsimile in libraries: [Worldcat]

I hope that helps! Let me know if you need more. 🙂

44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle it Right Now


The following list of “44 Medieval Beasts That Cannot Even Handle it Right Now” comes from [this] BuzzFeed post, and completely made me fall off my chair laughing this morning 🙂

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No less than four people (I lost count after awhile) wanted to make sure I saw this. Sharing here, because each has a lovely link to the source in the British Library’s collection.

hey do you still have the link to that cool manuscript page where the callig is in the shape of a bird with the beak and the feet illuminated? I have a cygnus to do…

This one?


Harley 647, f. 5v
Illustration of the swan of the constellation Cygnus, with text or scholia within the figure of the constellation.
from Aratea, with extracts from Hyginus’s Astronomica in the constellation figures, 9th century France