|Giotto Madonna and Child (detail) 1320 National Gallery, Washington DC|
|Unknown Spanish Artist, The Resurrection, 1420, Legion of Honor, San Francisco|
|G. dal Ponte: Madonna and Child with Angels, 1430|
Last week I was visiting the Legion of Honor with my good friend and fellow decorative artist, Bruce Thalman, and I was studying some embossed, gilt halos in Medieval and Early Renaissance paintings, as I am wont to do, when I noticed something in the border of a cloak worn by the figure of Jesus in an anonymous panel from the 15th century. "Pseudo-Kufic" I said.
"Gesundheit" Bruce replied.
A great number of paintings of the late Byzantine and Early Renaissance era used a similar design device: arabesque lettering, painted as the embroidered decoration in the hems of garments or edges of carpets. This script is known as Pseudo-Kufic.
|Giovanni dal Ponte: Madonna and Child with Angels (detail) 1430 Legion of Honor, San Francisco|
|Fragment of a 13th Century Qur'an in Persian Naskh and Eastern Kufi scripts, Library of Congress|
|Giotto Madonna and Child, 1320 National Gallery, Washington DC|
|Gentile da Fabriano: Adoration of the Magi (detail) 1423 Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Psuedo-Arabic lettering and Mamluk patterns in the halo of the Virgin|
I still notice it all over the place.
|Paolo Veneziano: Virgin and Child (detail) 1354, Louvre Museum. Psuedo-Kufic hem embellishes a rich, oriental fabric.|
|Lorenzo di Niccolo: St Paul (detail) c. 1400 Legion of Honor, San Francisco |
decorative Pseudo-Kufic script on the sleeve of the Apostle
By the 16th century, orientalism in religious artwork all but disappeared, as the Italian churches wanted to emphasize a more Roman context to their history.
And now... ?
Pseudo-Kufic at Wikipedia
and at Res Obscura