from a 15th-century English manuscript now in
Lambeth Palace collection (Library MS6, folio
43v), features the prophetic boy Ambros
(a.k.a. Merlin), revealing to King Vortigern how
the fighting Red and White Dragons beneath
Vortigern's Collapsing Castle cause the damage
each night. I love this painting because it's
full of symbolisms.
Note how Ambros looks very
ordinary, not in the least like a wizard or a
future Merlin. To the left are an 'adviser' and a
soldier, clearly marvelling at the sight of the
fighting dragons. In the background, the
courtiers stay at a respectful distance.
out in this illumination. His long red hair and
beard clearly mark him as the archetype of a
Welshman (this is, after all, an English
manuscript). His robe is very royal, for some
reason emphesizing his kingship, which after all
is by no means certain with him being cast in the
role of usurper. But is he crowned? His headgear
could be a crown, but also a hat, the old guy in
the red robe wears a similar one. A royal robe,
but not a crown?
thing is his right foot, which I for all the
world cannot identify as anything but a hoof!
This is clearly not a shoe or a boot (see the enlarged image), so why a hoof?
Any suggestions are welcome. And while I am
talking about extremities, have you noticed that
all people in the painting only show one
hand and hide the other...
A last remark
about the faces of the people in the foreground,
which are all very vague. I would venture that
these are rubbed off by the readers over the
centuries, but one could think of a premeditated
for an enlargement of the red dragon