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Re: VMs: Re: "Dark painter" question...?

Hi Dana,

At 10:51 29/02/2004 -0700, you wrote:
Where did you first come across the 'Dark Painter'? Thanks.

Jorge Stolfi's message from 11 Dec 1999 (pasted below).

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 13:58:30 -0200 (EDT)
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From: Jorge Stolfi <stolfi@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: voynich@xxxxxxxx
Subject: VMS colors
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The new Beinecke images left me more convinced that ever that most of the VMs colors are apocryphal and bogus.

Granted that the VMS author was not exactly an artist, but he
obviously had good control of the pen. I would expect him to be at
least as accurate with the paintbrush. Yet the paint hardly follows
the figure's outline, especially in roots and complicated leaves. The
green of water in the biological pages (f74r,f78r,f82r) was applied
with a crayon or pen, resulting in an ugly streaked texture. Ditto for
the leaves of the sunflower on f33v.

Looking closely at f47r, one can see the faint outlines of the leaves,
drawn in ink under the gree paint. I can't believe that the author,
after having gone to the troble of drawing the individual leaves,
would cover them up, just like that.

On page f11r, only *some* of the leaves are painted (carelessly, as
usual). Such checkerboard painting can be seen in many other pages,
even in the B&W copies --- e.g. on the scalloped things of f78r and
f82r. Obviously the goal of the painter was not realism, but
aesthetics --- a very childish kind of aesthetics.

Page f68v2 (which is labeled f68r in the gallery) has a central star
painted golden yellow, surrounded by a solid dark blue star, with many
yellow stars around it. You will notice that one of the stars in the
03:00 sector is green, and half a dozen stars clockwise of it
gradually change from green to yellow.  To me, that can only be the
result of an impropely cleaned brush --- again, very childish mistake.

I have mentioned previously the red leaves and blue-green flower
of f16v, a color choice that could well be the result of a childish
mistake.  Along the same lines, we have the blue hair of two nymphs
on f78r.

I cannot avoid concluding that the painter was not author, and did not
care much for the meaning of the illustrations. Most likely, some
child used the VMs as a coloring book --- an accident that apparently
also happened to the Fuchs herbal whose URL was posted some time ago.
Or, perhaps, some "ignorant owner" of the VMs had the book colorized
in order to enhance its market value.

A few of the colors may be original, though. The deep red of f67r2
(the "planets" page), which is used also in the text and labels, is
probably original. In the herbal and pharma pictures, I can see a
faint yellow-brown paint (diluted writing ink?) applied to stems and
roots, in a fairly careful manner (compare for instance the two roots
at the top right of page f88r.

The bottom pond of f83v seems to have been overlooked by the "dark
painter", and may give us a glimpse of what the book looked like
originally. In particular, the water is uncolored, and the nymphs'
outlines can be seen more clearly. On the other hand, the red lips and
rosy cheeks seem to be there. Unfortunately, the Beinecke reproduction
of that page has low contrast and distorted colors, and I can't tell
whether the crowns/hair/showercaps are yellow, as in other pictures.

All the best,

- --stolfi

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