Damp fold

A description of painted drapery. A term coined in the mid-twentieth century to refer to a style of depicting drapery in which the material appears to cling to the body like wet cloth. The drapery folds not only articulate the human figure but, being sinuous and rhythmical, produce a decorative effect. The style ultimately derives from Byzantine art, but is found in the West from the twelfth century on and is an international feature of Romanesque art. Three variations of damp-fold drapery have been noted: a style composed of concentric lines, particularly favoured in Burgundy in the twelfth century; nested V folds, in which planes of drapery of ovoid or pear shape terminate in a series of V's - a widespread convention for rendering hanging drapery; the clinging curvilinear style, characterized by S-shaped lines, which enjoyed its greatest popularity in England, becoming something of a hallmark of English art around 1140-70. This latter style is often termed the Bury Bible figure style after one of its earliest and most important representatives.


Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown. Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts (Malibu, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the British Library, c1994).