6. Italian


This elegant blank was designed by The Honourable Lady Katerina da Brescia, based on a book of hours created for the former condottiero and autocratic ruler of Bologna Giovanni II Bentivoglio around 1500.


The hand is based on the littera antiqua of scribe Giralomo Pagliorlo, who interestingly was also professor of illumination at the University of Bologna.

The calligraphy on the blank was penned with a size 5 William Mitchell nib, with a basic angle of 15 degrees to the vertical. The letters are penned within 3mm wide lines, spaced 10mm apart. Follow these dimensions precisely.


The capitals are always gold, alternating on red, blue and green backgrounds. Parti-coloured red/green and red/blue backgrounds are also found.
Foliage colours include red, blue, mid green and mauve purple (placed symmetrically), all highlighted with fine lines of yellow or liquid gold.

The central panel can be painted in a variety of ways. Trompe l’oeil panels imitating marble or porphyry are found in numerous Italian manuscripts; it could contain a smaller, more decorative treatment of the recipient’s Arms or badge, a Classical motif or even a profile portrait.

Additional elements such as decorative coloured panel, a wreath of laurels or crossed olive branches could be added behind the shield. Putti (angelic cherubs), caryatids, dolphins and satyrs could also flank the shield or be incorporated into the illumination design. Be guided by period examples: the effect should be brightly coloured yet elegant.

Primary Sources

The Hours of Lorenzo dei Medici (Bayerisch Staatsbibliotek CLM 23639), 1485
Book of Offices of Giovanni II Bentivoglio (Morgan Library MS 43), c1497
The Hours of Bonaparte Ghislieri (British Library Yates-Thompson MS 29), 1500