Illuminated Letter A

I believe that there mighilluminated letter Aletter-a-2t have been only one colored letter A image on Reusable Art when I began posting these groups of letters from a 16th Century French manuscript. With this collection of 16th century illuminated letters, we now have around 20 colored letter A images.

Unlike most posts here on, I’ve grouped the images of the same letter together. They are quite similar and the experts believe one a few pages out of the entire manuscript may have been done by a second artist. I’ve grouped them a bit in this post by colors used, gilding and size.

I’ve edited the first two for you but think others might prefer leaving the hand-painted letters in their original form. I love how the originals have places where the artist got a bit outside of the lines – it further showcases how each of these were painted by hand. These letters were part of a collection of music that included notes and the lines of the staff. Many of them show the red lines of the staff and the diamond-ish notes.

Gilded Letter A Images

This must have been a special work indeed for the number of letters that appear to have been gilded. I can’t imagine how beautiful they look in person, somehow photographs just don’t do them justice.

Shades of Blue Gilded 16th Century Illuminated Letter A’s

This first group of gilded blue and white letter A images has letters that look fairly similar. They are surrounded by grey-ish blue flowers and leaves with white accents on a background of gold.

letter-a-6  letter-a-10letter-a-12  letter-a-11          letter-a-7    letter-a-9        letter-a-15

Gilded Letter A Images with Red Accents

This group of gilded letter A images includes decorations that were done using red paints; some also have blue and grey flowers and one has green leaves. The decorations include flowers, creatures from mythology and even a winged dragon that makes up the letter A itself.

leter-a-13    letter-a-3letter-a-5  letter-a-16letter-a-14

Illuminated Letter A Images without Gilding

The next pair of images from this French manuscript are quite bright and colorful but don’t appear to have been gilded. They have very similarly drawn letter A images but the flowers and vines that surround them are very different. The first one, with red flowers and green leaves almost has a more modern aesthetic. The second has that more classical look with lots of curled tips and ornamentation.

letter-a-4  letter-a-8

Smaller Drop Cap A Images

Throughout the manuscript there were pages that were adorned with smaller illuminated letters. There were two letter A’s that I’ve found. Again, like the last pair, one has slightly more curls and flourishes while the other has a slightly more modern and simplistic approach. Both have red flowers and green leaves.

letter-a-small-1  letter-a-small-2





This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.