I believe it was sometime between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when Duchess Rebekah asked if she could commission a scroll for someone in her House who would be offered the accolade of knighthood. At the time I didn’t know the vigilant, Lionel Jaysson, so I did my best to interview Rebekah as my patroness for the commission. I set out to research everything I could so I could create right piece befitting to the occasion. She had specifically requested any items that would mesh with his persona of a 12th century Norman. And, she had also mentioned that personally, she really liked many of the images from the Winchester Bible. The Winchester Bible is one of the largest remaining Bibles — whose huge pages measure to approximately 15-1/2″ wide by 23″ tall. It’s housed in the Winchester Cathedral’s library in England and it dates from 1160 to 1175. One of the signature images she chose specifically was the man fighting the lion. Seemed fitting for someone with the name of “Lionel” to me, and that’s where I started.
We had determined that the scroll should most certainly be “traditionally” made — in that it would be ink and paint on paper. So, I set out to find the best images and layout from the Winchester Bible that I thought would fit. And…I had to find that lion! I looked for a composition that would stand out on the wall since this is a rather significant award. I chose the layout from the Book of Genesis which starts with this very large illuminated initial “I”. (You can see the full original image at this link here in the first box.) Instead of using it as the letter, I decided to use each of the circle frames as an area to depict the progression of Lionel becoming a knight. Through my interview with Duchess Rebekah, his path was described and illustrated as below. Each of the frames was inspired from other pieces within the Winchester Bible. The people and scenes were modified and creatively adjusted to portray Lionel’s path to knighthood.
For the first image, I wanted Lionel to be on his own since this was to be a story about him and he’s the main character of the scroll. I did a lot searching through Facebook to find photos of him fighting in his own surcoat. The purple stripes presented a bit of a challenge throughout this scroll…but I they are certainly a signature to his look, as most representations of knights in manuscripts should be!
For the next image, I wanted to show Lionel together with his mentor knight, Sir Brannos O‘Irongardail of Darkyard. Brannos is meant to be giving instruction to Lionel. One of my Patroness’ requests was to include the heraldry of House Darkyard within the scroll, which is here depicted on the shield Brannos’ holds and is centered within this frame. Again, I had to review the resources of Facebook to look at photos of Brannos and his fighting armor and helm. There were some liberties taken, though, to match the styles of the armor to the period of the scroll, but for the most part, he’s recognizable by the cornet, white belt, shield, and colors of his surcoats.
The next image shows my Patroness, Duchess Rebekah, and Lionel. Rebekah had mentioned that Lionel had come to her to learn some of the ‘softer’ arts. He had desperately wanted to learn how to sew and so she had accommodated him by teaching. Rebekah is shown at the right holding a needle and thread. Lionel is shown — purposely not in his fighting surcoats — seated and with a smirk on his face patiently watching and learning by her instruction.
In period, documents would have been sealed at the bottom of the text to indicate where the words had ended. In this case, the center of the scroll seemed the best place to paint in the seal of the Middle Kingdom and higher level award scrolls generally have the seal painted on in any location of the scroll. I also like to feature the badge for the award that I’m creating. Instead of doing a simple badge depicting the white belt of a Knight, I chose to display the white belt wrapped around the seal. I think this turned out well.
The next image portrayed Lionel on the battlefield leading a charge. His characteristic purple and white surcoat sets him apart from the other combatants on the field here. He is shown stabbing another person in the head with a sword. This was modified from a larger grim battle image in the Winchester Bible. I simplified the image and pulled out sections that would fit into the circle frame. Clearly painting at 4 am before the event, I didn’t notice that one of the faces didn’t make it off my brush and onto the page…but…that’s kinda part of the charm, I suppose!
The next image is the requested image from Duchess Rebekah — Lionel fighting the lion. Lionel is again shown in ‘plain clothing’ not his fighting surcoat. I wanted to mix it up a little bit so that everything was not purple! That and it seemed more appropriate for the image. This seems to be the things of myth and legend — and how heros get their names. Lionel fighting the lion was one of the first images I had compelted on the scroll.
I struggled with the decision of putting the Kingdom seal in the last frame and instead decided that since this was a ‘stroy’ the last frame should show it’s conclusion — which is the King and Queen making their decsion to elevate Sir Lionel. This is again taken from within the Winchester Bible and creatively manuipuated to fit within the circluar frame of the scroll. Our King Edmund is a very, very tall man — while his wife is a rather peite woman. I tried to emphize that in their portayal here. She is show in her peitte stature seated on her thorne, while he is shown spilling out over the edge of the frame and crouching a bit at the top. They look to be in conversation and then to be making Their decree.
And lastly, here is the full scroll for you to review! I love the 12th century style. It is probably one of my favorites to paint and create. The large painted capital letters and the introduction of the text really set them apart from other styles. The scroll, like it’s inspiration, is rather large at 7-1/2″ wide by 18″ tall. I generally make standard frame-sized scrolls, but since this was such a significant scroll, I figured something that needed to be custom framed would be ok. I hope it was well received. It has many, many hours of love into it.