Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Calligraphy in Cuzco

Few people would go to Cuzco to look for baroque calligraphy, but you can see it there, and not quite hidden.
In the museum of the Santa Catalina convent there are many pictures of the so called escuela cuscena. Some of them have comments in the corner in large baroque italics fashionable in European writing at the time.
There also are some documents on display there, written in baroque copperplate, with strangely filled high loops of some letters, which gives them club-like appearance. Apparently also fashionable in Spanish-speaking countries at the time.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leonard Cohen calligraphies

This is not something one can see cycling around anywhere. In fact these pieces are not publicly displayed at all. I found them in my loft buried among some old papers. These are scraps of old paper, sometimes just old brown envelope, on which I once practiced calligraphy. I just couldn't resist the temptation to look for them having heard the news. I always thought that quotations from Cohen are perfect subject to practice calligraphy. I don't do this any more and anyway this web site is not there to publish my own stuff. I just couldn't resist having heard the news. It is a homage to the great bard.
You know, neither James Joyce nor Leo Tolstoy ever got a Nobel Prize, instead some obscure writers hardly remembered today, like Mikhail Sholokhov or Winston Churchill (Nobel for literature!)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Grafitti at Pompeii

Most people travel to Pompeii to see the ancient murals hidden among the ruins. However, there are surprises for anybody interested in calligraphy. There are places where ancient Roman grafitti have been preserved. They seem to be either in ancient rustics script or in something in between rustics and capitalis elegans. This certainly is not quadrata, as the letters are very narrow but they have serifs similar to capitalis elegans rather than to rustica proper. Anyway the rustica we know from manuscripts might have crystallised later.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Prescissa in Granada

Most people travel to Granada to see the Alhambra, where exquisite Arabic calligraphy can be seen. Few people realise that there is no less exquisite Western calligraphy to be seen in that city.
There is a cathedral there and next to it a little museum, where some mediaeval manuscripts are exhibited. One of them presents excellent textura prescissa, another no less excellent textura quadrata.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


There is no shortage of calligraphy examples in Rome. Indeed, this is where the Western calligraphy was born. The best examples of capitalis monumentalis, our earliest calligraphy style, are on the numerous imperial triumphal arches in the city. However, specimens of very elegant letters can be found in other places in the city, too. Here, for example, are broken stones gathered before the entry to the Baths of Diocletian, right in front of Rome's main railway station.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bayeux Cathedral

The French town of Bayeux is best known for that medieval comic strip, Bayeux Tapestry, which is its main tourist attraction. The Romanesque cathedral, however, is also worth visiting. It even has something for a calligraphy enthusiast: the Gothic murals in the crypt, where figures talk to each other like in another medieval comic strip. An angel praises Mary in lombardic versals, while a pious monk prays for her intercession in textualis quadrata. There are also some epitaphs elsewhere in the church, one of my favoured is one from 1660 written in graceful antiqua

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cerne Abbas

This is a village famous for the obscene chalk figure cut into a hill nearby. The church is much less of a tourist attraction, but a calligraphy enthusiast may want to have a glance there - its walls are covered in quotations from the Bible written in blackletter calligraphy. Some inscriptions are dated 1679 and others 1701, which means it is baroque calligraphy, a result of an iconoclastic movement which made a sort of a cultural revolution in England. For a few years bands of angry Puritans went from village to village, entered churches and destroyed images. Churches were decorated in calligraphy afterwards, but the Cerne Abbas example shows that real artists were hard to find. The Cerne Abbas inscriptions are of poor quality, a far cry from what was produced at the same time in East Germany.