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Encyclopedia > Illuminated manuscript
In the strictest definition of illuminated manuscript, only manuscripts decorated with gold or silver, like this miniature of Christ in Majesty from the Aberdeen Bestiary (folio 4v), would be considered illuminated.
In the strictest definition of illuminated manuscript, only manuscripts decorated with gold or silver, like this miniature of Christ in Majesty from the Aberdeen Bestiary (folio 4v), would be considered illuminated.

An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations. In the strictest definition of the term, an illuminated manuscript only refers to manuscripts decorated with gold or silver. However, in both common usage and modern scholarship, the term is now used to refer to any decorated or illustrated manuscript from the Western or Islamic traditions - comparable Far Eastern works are always described as painted, and Islamic and Mesoamerican works also often are. Download high resolution version (459x693, 175 KB)Folio 4v from the Aberdeen Bestiary. ... Download high resolution version (459x693, 175 KB)Folio 4v from the Aberdeen Bestiary. ... The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a picture in an ancient or medieval manuscript; the simple decoration of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment. ... The Christian icon of Christ in Majesty, in the Greek-speaking East the Deesis, was developed under Imperial patronage and survives, in its earliest examples, in Byzantine mosaics. ... Categories: Art stubs | Literature stubs | Illuminated manuscripts ... A manuscript (Latin manu scriptus, written by hand), strictly speaking, is any written document that is put down by hand, in contrast to being printed or reproduced some other way. ... “Write” redirects here. ... Initial P in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire Detail from a rare Blackletter Bible (1497) printed in Strasbourg by J.R.Grueninger. ... The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a picture in an ancient or medieval manuscript; the simple decoration of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment. ...


The earliest surviving substantive illuminated manuscripts are from the period AD 400 to 600, primarily produced in Ireland, Italy and other locations on the European continent. The meaning of these works lies not only in their inherent art history value, but in the maintenance of a link of literacy. Had it not been for the (mostly monastic) scribes of late antiquity, the entire content of western heritage literature from Greece and Rome could have perished. The very existence of illuminated manuscripts as a way of giving stature and commemoration to ancient documents may have been largely responsible for their preservation in an era when barbarian hordes had overrun continental Europe. The majority of surviving manuscripts are from the Middle Ages, although many illuminated manuscripts survive from the 15th century Renaissance, along with a very limited number from late antiquity. The majority of these manuscripts are of a religious nature. However, especially from 13th century onward, an increasing number of secular texts were illuminated. Most illuminated manuscripts were created as codices, although many illuminated manuscripts were rolls or single sheets. A very few illuminated manuscript fragments survive on Papyrus. Most medieval manuscripts, illuminated or not, were written on parchment (most commonly calf, sheep, or goat skin), but most manuscripts important enough to illuminate were written on the best quality of parchment, called vellum, traditionally made of unsplit (calf skin), though other high quality parchment from other skins were also called by the term. Beginning in the late Middle Ages manuscripts began to be produced on paper. Very early printed books were sometimes produced with spaces left for miniatures, or were given illuminated initials, or decorations in the margin, but the introduction of printing rapidly led to the decline of illumination. Illuminated manuscripts continued to be produced in the early 16th century, but in much smaller numbers, mostly for the very wealthy. Monasticism (from Greek: monachos—a solitary person) is the religious practice of renouncing all worldly pursuits in order to fully devote ones life to spiritual work. ... “Ancient” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Rome (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Barbarian (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... This article is about the European Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries. ... “Ancient” redirects here. ... (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... First page of the Codex Argenteus A codex (Latin for block of wood, book; plural codices) is a handwritten book, in general, one produced from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages. ... For other uses, see Papyrus (disambiguation). ... German parchmenter, 1568 Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. ... Vellum (from the Old French Vélin, for calfskin[1]) is a sort of parchment, a material for the pages of a book or codex, characterized by its thin, smooth, durable properties. ... For other uses, see Paper (disambiguation). ...

The decoration of this page from a French Book of Hours, ca.1400, includes a miniature, initials and borders
The decoration of this page from a French Book of Hours, ca.1400, includes a miniature, initials and borders

Illuminated manuscripts are the most common item to survive from the Middle Ages. They are also the best surviving specimens of medieval painting, and the best preserved. Indeed, for many areas and time periods, they are the only surviving examples of painting. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 370 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1000 × 1619 pixel, file size: 255 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Illuminated manuscript ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 370 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (1000 × 1619 pixel, file size: 255 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Illuminated manuscript ... A illuminated page from the Très Riches Heures showing the day for exchanging gifts from the month of January A book of hours from the late 1470s. ... Initial P in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire Detail from a rare Blackletter Bible (1497) printed in Strasbourg by J.R.Grueninger. ... “Painter” redirects here. ...


For a list of illuminated manuscripts see list of illuminated manuscripts. This is a list of illustrated or decorated manuscripts. ...

Contents

History

This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Techniques

Illumination was a complex and frequently costly process. It was usually reserved for special books: an altar Bible, for example. Wealthy people often had richly illuminated "books of hours" made, which set down prayers appropriate for various times in the liturgical day. A illuminated page from the Très Riches Heures showing the day for exchanging gifts from the month of January A book of hours from the late 1470s. ... A liturgy is the customary public worship of a religious group, according to their particular traditions. ...


In the early Middle Ages, most books were produced in monasteries, whether for their own use, for presentation, or for a commission. However, commercial scriptoria grew up in large cities, especially Paris, and in Italy and the Netherlands, and by the late fourteenth century there was a significant industry producing manuscripts, including agents who would take long-distance commissions, with details of the heraldry of the buyer and the saints of personal interest to him (for the calendar of a Book of hours). By the end of the period, many of the painters were women, perhaps especially in Paris. School of Paris (École de Paris) refers to two distinct groups of artists — a group of medieval manuscript illuminators, and a group of non-French artists working in Paris before World War I. Additionally, it refers to a similar group of artists living in Paris between the two world... For other uses, see Calendar (disambiguation) A page from the Hindu calendar 1871–1872. ... A illuminated page from the Très Riches Heures showing the day for exchanging gifts from the month of January A book of hours from the late 1470s. ...


Text

In the making of an illuminated manuscript, the text was usually written first. Sheets of parchment or vellum, animal hides specially prepared for writing, were cut down to the appropriate size. After the general layout of the page was planned (e.g., initial capital, borders), the page was lightly ruled with a pointed stick, and the scribe went to work with ink-pot and either sharpened quill feather or reed pen. German parchmenter, 1568 Parchment is a material for the pages of a book or codex, made from fine calf skin, sheep skin or goat skin. ... Vellum was originally a translucent or opaque material produced from calfskin that had been soaked, limed and unhaired, and then dried at normal temperature under tension, usually on a wooden device called a stretching frame. ... A quill pen is made from a flight feather (preferably a primary) of a large bird, most often a goose. ...


The script depended on local customs and tastes. The sturdy Roman letters of the early Middle Ages gradually gave way to scripts such as Uncial and half-Uncial, especially in the British Isles, where distinctive scripts such as insular majuscule and insular minuscule developed. Stocky, richly textured blackletter was first seen around the 13th century and was particularly popular in the later Middle Ages. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... The Book of Kells, c. ... This article describes the archipelago in north-Western Europe. ... The beginning of the Gospel of Mark from the Book of Durrow. ... The beginning of the Gospel of Mark from the Book of Durrow. ... “Black letter” redirects here. ... (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ...


Classifications

Art historians classify illuminated manuscripts into their historic periods and types, including (but not limited to): Late Antique, Insular, Carolingian manuscripts, Ottonian manuscripts, Romanesque manuscripts, Gothic manuscripts, and Renaissance manuscripts. There a few examples from later periods. The type of book that was most often heavily and richly illuminated, sometimes known as a "display-book", varied between periods. In the first millennium these were most likely to be Gospel Books. The Romanesque period saw the creation of many huge illuminated complete Bibles - one in Sweden requires three librarians to lift it. Many Psalters were also heavily illuminated in both this and the Gothic period. Finally, the Book of Hours, very commonly the personal devotional book of a wealthy layperson, was often richly illuminated in the Gothic period. Other books, both liturgical and not, continued to be illuminated at all periods. The Byzantine world also continued to produce manuscripts in its own style, versions of which spread to other Orthodox and Eastern Christian areas. See Medieval art for other regions, periods and types. This page (folio 292r) of the Book of Kells contains the lavishly decorated text that opens the Gospel of John. ... Lorsch Gospels 778-820. ... Interior of the Saint-Saturnin church St-Sernin, Toulouse, 1080 – 1120: elevation of the east end Romanesque sculpture, cloister of St. ... The Western (Royal) Portal at Chartres Cathedral ( 1145). ... A Gospel Book is a codex or bound volume, containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament. ... This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library. ... Psalms (Tehilim תהילים, in Hebrew) is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh, and of the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. ... A illuminated page from the Très Riches Heures showing the day for exchanging gifts from the month of January A book of hours from the late 1470s. ... Byzantine monumental Church mosaics are a crowning glory of Medieval Art. ...


The Gothic period, which generally saw an increase in production, also saw more secular works such as chronicles and works of literature illuminated. Wealthy people began to build up personal libraries; Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, who probably had the largest personal library of his time in the mid-15th century, is estimated to have had about 600 illuminated manuscripts, whilst a number of his friends and relations had several dozen. Generally a chronicle (Latin chronica, from Greek Χρόνος) is historical account of facts and events in chronological order. ... See: Philip III of France (1245-1285, king of France 1270-1285) Philip II, Duke of Burgundy (1363-1404, regent of France 1380-1388) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Coat of arms of the second Duchy of Burgundy and later of the French province of Burgundy Burgundy (French: ; German: ) is a historic region of France, inhabited in turn by Celts (Gauls), Romans (Gallo-Romans), and various Germanic peoples, most importantly the Burgundians and the Franks; the former gave their...


Images

A 13th century manuscript illumination, the earliest known depiction of Thomas Becket's assassination
A 13th century manuscript illumination, the earliest known depiction of Thomas Becket's assassination

When the text was complete, the illustrator set to work. Complex designs were planned out beforehand, probably on wax tablets, the sketch pad of the era. The design was then traced or drawn onto the vellum (possibly with the aid of pinpricks or other markings, as in the case of the Lindisfarne Gospels). Many incomplete manuscripts survive from most periods, giving us a good idea of working methods. Image File history File links Thomas_Becket_Murder. ... Image File history File links Thomas_Becket_Murder. ... (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript, often of a religious nature, in which the text is supplemented by the addition of colourful ornamentation, such as decorated initials, borders and the like. ... St Thomas Becket, St Thomas of Canterbury (c. ... Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit from the Gospel of Matthew. ...


At all times, most manuscripts did not have images in them. In the early Middle Ages, manuscripts tend to either be display books with very full illumination, or manuscripts for study with at most a few decorated initials. By the Romanesque period many more manuscripts had decorated or historiated initials, and manuscripts essentially for study often contained some images, often not in colour. This trend intensified in the Gothic period, when most manuscripts had at least decorative flourishes in places, and a much larger proportion had images of some sort. Display books of the Gothic period in particular had very elaborate decorated borders of foliate patterns, often with small drolleries. A Gothic page might contain several areas and types of decoration: a miniature in a frame, a historiated initial beginning a passage of text, and a border with drolleries. Often different artists worked on the different parts of the decoration.


Paints

The medieval artist's palette was surprisingly broad:

Colour Source(s)
Red Mercury(II) sulfide (HgS), often called cinnabar or vermilion, in its natural mineral form or synthesized; "red lead" or minium (Pb3O4); insect-based colours such as cochineal ,kermes and lac; rust (iron oxide, Fe2O3) or iron oxide-rich earth compounds
Yellow Plant-based colours, such as Weld, turmeric or saffron; yellow earth colours (ochre); orpiment (arsenic sulfide, As2S3)
Green Plant-based compounds such as buckthorn berries; copper compounds such as verdigris and malachite
Blue Ultramarine (made from the mineral lapis lazuli); azurite; smalt; plant-based substances such as woad, indigo, and folium or turnsole
White Lead white (also called "flake white", basic lead carbonate (PbCO3)); chalk
Black Carbon, from sources such as lampblack, charcoal, or burnt bones or ivory; sepia; iron and gall
Gold Gold, in leaf form (hammered extremely thin) or powdered and bound in gum arabic or egg (called "shell gold")
Silver Silver, either silver leaf or powdered, as with gold; tin leaf

Cinnabar, sometimes written cinnabarite, is a name applied to red mercury(II) sulfide (HgS), or native vermilion, the common ore of mercury. ... Vermilion, also spelled vermillion, when found naturally-occurring, is an opaque reddish orange pigment, used since antiquity, originally derived from the powdered mineral cinnabar. ... Red lead, also called minium or lead tetroxide, is a bright red or orange crystalline or amorphous pigment. ... Red lead is a bright red pigment, in Latin minium after the Minius River in northwest Spain where it was first mined. ... Binomial name Dactylopius coccus Costa, 1835 Synonyms Coccus cacti Linnaeus, 1758 Pseudococcus cacti Burmeister, 1839 Cochineal is the name of both crimson or carmine dye and the cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus), a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the dye is derived. ... Kermes (or chermes) is the dried bodies of the females of a scale insect (Coccus ilicis), allied to the cochineal insect, and found on several species of oak near the Mediterranean. ... Lac is the scarlet resinous secretion of the insect Laccifer lacca. ... A blacksmith removing rust with sand prior to welding Rust damage in automobiles can create hidden dangers. ... Iron oxide pigment There are a number of iron oxides: Iron oxides Iron(II) oxide or ferrous oxide (FeO) The black-coloured powder in particular can cause explosions as it readily ignites. ... Iron oxide pigment There are a number of iron oxides: Iron oxides Iron(II) oxide or ferrous oxide (FeO) The black-coloured powder in particular can cause explosions as it readily ignites. ... Species About 50-70 species, including: Reseda alba - White Mignonette Reseda complicata Glaucous Mignonette Reseda lutea - Wild Mignonette Reseda luteola - Weld Reseda odorata - Common Mignonette Reseda phyteuma - Corn Mignonette Reseda scoparia - Canaries Mignonette Mignonette (Reseda) is a genus of fragrant herbaceous plants native to the Mediterranean region and southwest Asia... Binomial name Linnaeus Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae which is native to tropical South Asia. ... Binomial name Crocus sativus L. Saffron (IPA: ) is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. ... This article is about the color. ... Orpiment Orpiment prepared as a paint pigment Orpiment is a common monoclinic crystalline mineral Chemical Composition: As2S3, arsenic trisulfide Molecular Weight: 246. ... Species See text The Buckthorns Rhamnus are a genus (or two genera, if Frangula is treated as distinct) of about 100 species of shrubs or small trees from 1-10 m tall (rarely to 15 m), in the buckthorn family Rhamnaceae. ... For other uses, see Copper (disambiguation). ... Verdigris is the common name for the chemical Cu(CH3COO)2. ... This article is about the mineral. ... Natural ultramarine. ... A block of lapis lazuli Lapis lazuli is one of the oldest of all gems, with a history of use stretching back 7,000 years. ... // Fresh, unweathered stalactitic azurite crystals showing the exceptionally deep blue of unaltered azurite. ... Categories: Stub ... Binomial name L. Woad (or glastum) is the common name of the flowering plant Isatis tinctoria in the family Brassicaceae. ... Indigo is the color on the spectrum between about 450 and 420 nm in wavelength, placing it between blue and violet. ... The dyestuff folium or turnsole, prepared from the annual plant Crozophora tinctoria (dyers crook carrier, from its use and the curved tip of its spike of florets), was a mainstay of medieval manuscript illuminators from the development of the technique for extracting it in the thirteenth century (Thompson and Hamilton... This article is about the metal. ... The Needles, situated on the Isle Of Wight, are part of the extensive Southern England Chalk Formation. ... For other uses, see Carbon (disambiguation). ... Soot, also called lampblack or carbon black, is a dark powdery deposit of unburned fuel residues, usually composed mainly of amorphous carbon, that accumulates in chimneys, automobile mufflers and other surfaces exposed to smoke—especially from the combustion of carbon-rich organic fuels in the lack of sufficient oxygen. ... Charcoal is the blackish residue consisting of impure carbon obtained by removing water and other volatile constituents from animal and vegetation substances. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Look up sepia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Oak galls and iron(II) sulfate, ingredients of iron gall ink Iron gall ink (sometimes iron gall nut ink) is a purple-black ink made from iron salts and tannin from vegetable sources. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... Acacia senegal plant from Koehlers Medicinal-Plants 1887 Gum arabic, a natural gum also called gum acacia, is a substance that is taken from two sub-Saharan species of the acacia tree, Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal. ... This article is about the chemical element. ... This article is about the metallic chemical element. ...

Gallery

See also

This is a list of illustrated or decorated manuscripts. ... The transition of communication technology: Oral Culture, Manuscript Culture, Print Culture, and Information Age Manuscript culture refers to the development and use of the manuscript as a means of storing and disseminating information until the age of printing. ... Hiberno-Saxon manuscripts are those manuscripts made in the British Isles from about 500 CE to about 1000 CE, or those manuscripts made on the continent in scriptoria founded by Irish or Anglo-Saxon missionaries and which are stylistically similar to the manuscripts produced in the British Isles. ... A Gospel Book is a codex or bound volume, containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament. ... Illustrated Apocalypse manuscripts are manuscripts that contain the text of Revelation and/or a commentary on Revelation and also illustrations. ... GOSPEL OF MALAT‛YA [1267-68]. MATENADARAN MS NO. 10675 P 19a. ... The history of the book is the story of a suite of technological innovations that improved the quality of text conservation, the access to information, portability, and the cost of production. ... Preserving parchment becomes more difficult when pigments, inks, and illumination are added into the equation. ... Anastasia (flourished c 1400, Paris) was a French illuminator of manuscripts. ...

External links

Images (mostly)

Resources

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Illuminated manuscripts

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... Project Gutenberg, abbreviated as PG, is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive and distribute cultural works. ... The Pierpont Morgan Library is a research library in New York City. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ...

Modern

  • The Saint John's Bible: an illuminated Bible project
  • Ellen Frank Illumination Arts Foundation: the art of illumination

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They may be rare these days, but I have been producing illuminated manuscripts for over 20 years.
As for the term "illuminated," this refers to the decorative quality of the manuscript, usually because gold leaf is used to create the sense of light emerging from the text.
Many of the greatest Western illuminated manuscripts were created in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.
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