By Danny Garrett, Hollywood, California
And so the story begins. Much illumination on the page, starting with the illuminated initial, the “O” in “Once upon a time…” The term itself is derived from the Latin initialis, or standing at the beginning. When, as in this case, the initial is nested in an ornate space, and with images inside them, they are known as historiated initials. This is exactly what we have here with butterflies, plants – including a grinning countenance, and a custom border.
In addition to illuminated initials, we generally have two other orders of illumination: borders, also known as marginalia, and miniature illustrations. Again the term is a Latin derivative, from minium, which means “red lead.” This referred to the fact that many of the earliest illuminations were miniated or delineated by being outlined in red. However, that was not always the case and it certainly is not the case here. Moreover, if you will notice, the overall bordering of the page is half red – thought this would more properly fall under the definition of bordering. The miniatures that Letitia created are free-floating images dependent only on their proximity to ‘mated’ words. While not unique to Princess April Morning-Glory, this kind of illustration is extremely rare and Letitia has really innovated this type of miniature illumination.
These then are the principal elements in illuminated manuscripts – initials, bordering and specific miniatures. As the story progresses, we will see a three-way dance between them.