his illumination illustrates Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last work, the Requiem. In 1791, halfway through the composition of this Mass for the Dead, Mozart dies of rheumatic fever and it is one of his students, Süßmayr, who will later finish the composition of this major work.
Very far from being a sad lament, as could easily be imagined, the text of the Requiem is a plea for understanding and mercy, full of hope in divine justice, in which the dead man asks Jesus to be his protector and defendant on the Day of Judgment.
The calligraphy used on this painting is separated in two parts: the original Latin text (starting with the Tuba Mirum and ending after the Lacrimosa), inked in sepia, for which I used a blend of four Insular Celtic alphabets, dating between the IV and VIII centuries A.D; and the interspersed English translation, in an old form, for which I used an English Bastard commonly in use circa 1400, inked in smoky black.
The rich blues dominating this illumination are symbolic of the passage to another sphere of being, another dimension, and the classical Celtic interlace and intricate motifs which abound in the upper part of the painting contain many early Christian symbols (eagles, peacocks, triskells...) which refer to the immortality of the soul.
Furthermore, the use of 23 carat gold leaf, of silver leaf and of numerous shades of copper covering the entire surface of this major-sized work, bestows it with a radiance and majesty which is in complete harmony with the grandeur of the theme.
Started in 2002, this illumination needed over 5000 hours of work to be completed, spread over four years...