New Light on the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Manuscript

New Light on the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Manuscript: Multispectral Imaging and the Cotton Nero A.x Illustrations

Date & Time: April 9, 2015 | 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Location: Taylor Family Digital Library Visualization Studio (TFDL 466B)

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Speaker: Murray McGillivray – Department of English, University of Calgary

This paper reports on the results of multispectral imaging of the illustration pages of British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x (art. 3), the unique manuscript of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (and other poems). The paper describes the process and equipment, but also interesting results of the analysis of the images. For example, a particular wavelength of infrared light produces an image to which the layers of painted pigment contribute little but in which the underdrawing in ink appears very crisply, giving the impression of looking through the colour that has been painted on afterwards at the underdrawing itself and showing some surprising and complex details now obscured by painted pigment. Other wavelengths make stark differentiation between pigments that are quite similar to the naked eye in natural light: for example, a particular green bush in one illustration shares with the Pearl-maiden’s grave mound in another and the Green Knight’s Chapel in a third the use of a copper-green apparently particularly employed by the artist to ornament important details — but what is so important about that bush?

This event is free and open to the public.

Presented by MARCS: The Medieval and Renaissance Cultural Studies Research Group