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Picturing a World

Sybilla von Bondorff

Seeking diversion from the sorrows of war, I clicked on a British Library blog post on Medieval and Renaissance Women. What did it include? a medieval woman artist whose name is known! Sybilla von Bondorf. The post has a link to a manuscript she illustrated, and the British Library holds another from which this image of St. John composing the Book of Revelation comes.

The rosy-cheeked sweetness places her work in Germanic as opposed to French illustrative conventions, but I like to think that it also reflects something of the painter's personality. For historical fiction, you could certainly make up a cheerful nun of the Poor Clare order—or, for that matter, a sour one who confounds everybody with her somewhat childlike, pretty illustrations. Anyway, I enjoyed meeting Sybilla von Bondorf.

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