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Gillion's Ship Attacked by the Sultan's Army
Antwerp, Belgium (Place created)
Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 37 x 25.5 cm (14 9/16 x 10 1/16 in.)
This page of the manuscript features one of the most dramatic scenes among the knight Gillion's adventures. At the center is his golden galleon, flanked by the two brown ships of his Saracen enemies. Although outnumbered, Gillion's soldiers leap off in both directions onto the two neighboring ships. At the very top, long fabric banners ripple in the wind from four crow's nests where soldiers let loose a flurry of arrows. Despite the odds, the westerners massacre the foreigners from the east. Several unfortunate Saracens are visible dead and dying in the swirling water, itself alive with a sense of movement, with their blood coloring the waves.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, the artist Lieven van Lathem decorated his own borders rather than leaving them for another illuminator to complete. In this image, there are many examples of his precise use of vivid color and delicate brushwork. Notice in the right border, for example, the small figure of a man in an en elegant blue tunic over a red shirt. He seems to emerge from out of the curling foliage, with a sword poised overhead, ready to slice through the stem.