Thursday, 29 March 2012

Today is the centenary of Captain Scott’s last journal entry, and therefore in all probability of his death. To mark the occasion a service was held in St Paul’s cathedral, from which I have just returned. It was a magnificent affair, with powerful singing (including ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, Scott’s favourite hymn) and moving readings – David Attenborough read the final Message from Scott’s Journal and Falcon Scott, grandson of the explorer, read the passage from Tennyson’s Ulysses which culminates in the words ‘to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield’, which were inscribed by Cherry-Garrard on the memorial cross on the edge of the Beardmore Glacier. A lone piper from Captain Oates’s regiment accompanied the placing of a wreath by the Scott memorial plaque. [caption id="attachment_868" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="© The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2012"][/caption] A letter came in from one of our members last week extolling the beauties of The Metz Pontifical – a manuscript dating from around 1310 belonging to The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge – and suggesting we publish it in facsimile. A single, top-class artist worked on the illuminations, but it seems that he ran out of time because in the last few pages the illustrations are drawn but not coloured or gilded, thus giving a fascinating insight into the creative process. The first image here shows a spread from the completed part of the book, while the other two pages in varying states of completion. The script is also extremely fine. [caption id="attachment_878" align="aligncenter" width="584" caption="© The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2012"][/caption] I spent an afternoon with Quentin Blake planning his new book, The Fables of La Fontaine. Fifty fables will be included, all of them illustrated, mostly full page and in colour. Quentin has been busy with preliminary pen-and-ink sketches – here are a few of them.