Entries Tagged as 'Illuminated manuscripts'

Course on Illuminated Manuscripts

COURSE: An Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts in the Middle Ages, Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London.

The Royal Manuscripts exhibition has recently brought into light some of the British Library treasures, reminding one that the vast majority of Western medieval painting has survived, not on large scale panels nor adorning walls of monasteries and private residences, but in the pages of innumerable manuscripts surviving in libraries around the world. In this course we will discover their hidden riches, placing manuscripts in the original context of their production, looking at how they were made, by whom and for whom.

What will I learn on the course?
* Know how medieval manuscripts were made and what materials were used
* Understand the evolution of manuscript production and the importance of patronage throughout the Middle Ages
* Have been introduced to a range of manuscripts from different periods and different countries through a few case studies: from Bibles to bestiaries, from encyclopaedias to romances…

What will I be doing in class?
* Students will be learning through PowerPoint lectures and class discussion.
* Students will be encouraged to ask questions and make comments during class.
* A select bibliography and list of useful websites will be given at the beginning of the course, and a slide list will be provided at each class.

What next, after the course ends?
You are encouraged to complement the course with visits to places where medieval manuscripts are on public display, such as the British Library or the Victoria and Albert Museum, or to exhibitions including such material, so that you can experience these artefacts at first hand.

Information about the course:
* Course Codes: VAH063A
* Start Date: 18 Oct 2012
* End Date: 25 Oct 2012
* Days: Thursday
* Times: 11:00 – 13:00
* Sessions: 2
* Fee: £40
* Senior fee: £40
* Tutor: Catherine Yvard
* Availability: Yes

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Christie’s: London, 13 June 2012

AUCTION: Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s (8 King Street, St Jame’s, London), Wednesday, 13 June 2012. Viewing: 8-12 June.

This sale offers enormous choice from a fourth-century manuscript fragment of the Iliad to Charles Dickens’s own inscribed copy of David Copperfield. Besides illuminations of breath-taking beauty in the antiphonal of Elizabeth von Gemmingen, there is an original manuscript score in the hand of J.S. Bach. Among early printed books, Copernicus, Machiavelli and Vesalius are just a few of the many Renaissance authors represented.  An impressive selection of atlases and plate books, important works by Charles Darwin and Carl Marx, novels ranging from John Cleland’s Fanny Hill to Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death, and even a selection of children’s books stunningly bound in multi-coloured morocco, all feature in over 200 lots.

The following entries are of particular interest:

NATIVITY, in a letter H cut from an Antiphonal, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?Tuscany, c.1460], 222 x 251mm visible in frame. The initial for the antiphon for vespers on Christmas Day Hodie Christus natus est, on a ground of burnished gold (small smudge in sky, a few small losses from gold ground, trimmed into framing of gold at left edge, other edges under frame). Framed and glazed. Estimate: £ 12,000 – £15,000 ($18,456 – $23,070).

It must have been an enormous and splendid choirbook to contain initials as large and as extensively gilt as this. Several features suggest a Tuscan origin. The Nativity group shows the influence of Florentine models originated by Filippo Lippi but a Florentine painter is unlikely to have so flouted perspective in the enchanting and incident-filled landscape. The ruling seems to have encouraged the illuminator to divide the field horizontally: both front and side of the stable roof are on one horizontal and the gable, on a parallel, is reinforced by bristling trees, which continue the line to the left edge. The greater finesse of the foreground figures is matched by the elaborate patterning of the letter staves. The inclusion on the left of a grotesque head might indicate a Sienese connection — especially common in the initial staves of Pellegrino da Mariano — although Sienese illuminators favoured a strong yellow for the inner framing that is characteristic of Tuscan initials. The light tonalities and decorative forms show some connection with Choirbooks made for the convent of San Francesco in Lucca (Lucca, Bibl. stat. Mss 2673 and 2676, see M. Paoli, I corali della Biblioteca statale di Lucca, 1957).

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Visual Narratives and Illuminated Manuscripts

CALL FOR PAPERS: Visual Narratives and Illuminated Manuscripts. A session at the annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (RSA), 4-6 April, San Diego, California.

Drawing from the works on text and image from Visual Culture scholars, this panel aims to understand and analyze this multifaceted art form, the illuminated manuscript. All papers addressing the various aspects of the fraught and complex relationship between text and image in the illuminated manuscripts (from Medieval to the Renaissance period as well as Eastern illuminated manuscripts, i.e. Turkish, Arabic, etc.) are welcomed.

All papers from a variety of disciplines (Art History, Comparative Literature, History, Depts. of Languages & Literature, English, etc.) and approaches are encouraged. Interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches are especially welcome.

Please e-mail an abstract and a brief curriculum vitae to Nhora Serrano and Martine vanElk as soon as possible. This session will be sponsored by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

Deadline: 1 June 2012

For more information, see the conference website

Source: H-ArtHist

Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Users

CALL FOR PAPERS: Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Users, Durham University, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 (beginning at 14.00) (click here).

The first session will focus on the use of digital resources in manuscript research, with a presentation by Dr Joanna Fronska (The British Library), Behind the scenes process of digitisation, followed by a roundtable discussion of the use and value of online digital resources.

The second session will consist of short panel presentations/discussion on illuminated manuscripts in the Royal collection, addressing one of the following questions:
* How were the illuminated manuscripts in the royal library used and received by their owners?
* What are the characteristics of illustrated manuscripts collected by English monarchs?
* How did monastic manuscripts enter the royal collection, or what was their function within the library?
* How representative is what survives of the royal library, and why is there a relative lack of liturgical or private devotional books in the royal collection?

The content of the presentations will be circulated before the workshop to enable participants to formulate questions/responses in advance.

If you would like to be considered as a presenter, please submit a 500-word essay to Professor Richard Gameson. Deadline: 25 May 2012.

Learn more about the Royal Workshop.

Western Illuminated Manuscripts in Cambridge

PAUL BINSKI, PATRICK ZUTSHI, Western Illuminated Manuscripts: A Catalogue of the Collection in Cambridge University Library, with the collaboration of STELLA PANAYOTOVA, Cambridge 2011 (Cambridge University Press), 532 pages, 720 black and white illustrations, 192 colour illustrations, £175.00.

Cambridge University Library’s collection of illuminated manuscripts is of international significance. It originates in the medieval university and stands alongside the holdings of the colleges and the Fitzwilliam Museum. The University Library contains major European examples of medieval illumination from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries, with acknowledged masterpieces of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance book art, as well as illuminated literary texts, including the first complete Chaucer manuscript. This catalogue provides scholars and researchers easy access to the University Library’s illuminated manuscripts, evaluating the importance of many of them for the very first time. It contains descriptions of famous manuscripts, for example the Life of Edward the Confessor attributed to Matthew Paris, as well as hundreds of lesser-known items. Beautifully illustrated throughout, the catalogue contains descriptions of individual manuscripts with up-to-date assessments of their style, origins and importance, together with bibliographical references.


Preface (p. vii)
Introduction (pp. ix-xiii)
List of Manuscripts Catalogued (pp. xviii-xxiv)
List of Abbreviations (p. xxv)

The Catalogue:
* British Isles (pp. 3-262)
* France (pp. 263-331)
* Flanders (pp. pp. 333-363)
* Northern Netherlands (pp. 365-378)
* Germany and Austria (pp. 379-392)
* Italy (pp. 393-452)
* Spain (p. 453)

Bibliography (pp. 454-473)
Index of Iconography (pp. 474-483)
Index of Scribes, Artists and Binders (pp. 484-485)
Index of Authors and Titles (pp. 486-491)
Index of Types of Books and Texts (p. 492)
Index of Provenance (pp. 493-497)
Index of Manuscripts (pp. 498-502)
General Index (pp. 503-506).

Fashion in the Middle Ages at the Getty

EXHIBITION: Fashion in the Middle Ages at The J. Paul Getty Museum (1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA), 31 May – 14 August 2011. Catalogue by Margaret Scott.

Clothes are far more than a physical covering to protect the body from the elements; they can reveal much about a person. An evening gown, a doctor’s white coat, cowboy boots—today these can all be clues to social status, profession, or geographic origin. In the Middle Ages, clothing was integral to identifying one’s place in the world. Medieval people were highly skilled at reading the meaning of fashion, which is reflected throughout the painted pages of illuminated manuscripts. In Philosophy Presenting the Seven Liberal Arts to Boethius, female personifications of philosophy and the seven liberal arts are portrayed in a range of late medieval fashions. Themes in this exhibition range from the extravagant cost of clothing worn by the elite, to styles and fabrics permitted by custom and law, to the nventiveness that embellishes historical depictions of fashion.

Material Wealth
While at times containing fanciful or idealized images of clothing, manuscript illuminations often reflect the actual styles and fabrics of the Middle Ages, as well as the economic factors behind them. For the medieval viewer, color and material provided essential information about the social status of the figures on the page. For example, scholars wore red robes that carried the additional prestige associated with the high cost of crimson dye. Peasants wore cheap, undyed wool in shades of brown and gray. Such distinctions offer valuable insights into the world of fashion, allowing us to imagine what the books’ makers and owners might have been wearing and why. In an image in which he is shown kneeling in prayer, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, wears a fabric of gold thread that, in the 1400s, was usually made by wrapping gilt-silver foil around a core of silk. Gold cloth was the ultimate status symbol in medieval clothing.

Dressing the Part
Manuscript illuminators used costume to help place figures in the strict social hierarchy of the Middle Ages and to identify people by profession. Monks, doctors, lawyers, knights, scholars, queens, and courtiers could all be recognized at a glance by their distinctive clothing. It would be a mistake to regard all illuminations as direct reflections of medieval dress. In chivalric romances, wealthy patrons sought images of a perfect world, populated with glamorous versions of themselves and even peasants that were too well dressed. In an image made by an unknown French illuminator, fashions worn by the courtiers who accompanied the Emperor Sigismund reflect the way that impractical dress conveyed status. According to a law of 1463, short gowns that revealed men’s buttocks were restricted to the upper classes.

Another Time, Another Place
Since medieval manuscripts were often biblical or historical in nature, certain conventions arose for dressing figures from the past. Costumes for Christ and the apostles were based on the late classical garments seen in surviving Roman paintings. Other biblical figures were clothed in whimsical interpretations of the fashions worn in the Middle East and beyond. Jews and Muslims were frequently presented in turbans, fanciful headdresses, and striped fabrics that were associated with contemporary non–Christians as well as people from ancient history. A page from an Armenian Bible shows the Old Testament King David in the bejeweled ceremonial dress of Christian Byzantine emperors who had ruled the eastern portion of the Roman Empire. Although the Byzantine Empire had long ago fallen to the Ottoman Turks, its artistic traditions survived in Persia. King David’s clothing nostalgically links him to the world of Byzantium and the ancient past.

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Re-inventing Traditions in Manuscripts

CALL FOR PAPERS: Re-inventing traditions on the transmission of artistic patterns in illuminated manuscripts of the Late Middle Ages in terms of art history, restoration and palaeography, Institute of Art History of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Gemäldegalerie Berlin, 8-10 June 2012.

The transmission of artistic patterns was a key practice in medieval manuscript illumination. Despite a changing and differentiated process of production the constant recourse on older works of art, the copying and variation as well as the innovative adaptation of artistic patterns shaped the methods of work of medieval illuminators and writers.

The art historical research on the development of pictorial practice uses this particular technique to define artistic developments, regional particularities and even artistic biographies and still, even the most elaborate examples never liberate themselves entirely from the tradition of illustration and decoration of certain types of manuscripts. They usually follow a defined selection of patterns – also depending on the type of book illustrated – and thus even the masterpiece has to be seen in the context of its pictorial tradition.

The colloquium Re-inventing traditions is dedicated to a systematic approach to the problems of the transmission of artistic patterns as a key field in the study of medieval manuscript illumination. It is not just concerned with the reutilisation and diffusion of patterns, and beyond that the process of appropriation itself needs to be investigated. Young scholars are invited to submit proposals on their own approaches to this wide research field. The topics listed below merely serve as reference points for possible submissions.

In addition to an art historical approach, we encourage scholars to submit proposals that deal with the scientific analysis of illuminated manuscripts. Questions on dating, technical particularities and thus the opportunity to define related groups of works or even workshops can be explored as well as the analysis of materials or underdrawings for miniatures.

The art historical emphasis of the colloquium should also be expanded by the inclusion of text critical perspectives. Therefore, we encourage scholars of relevant disciplines to submit proposals on e.g. the meaning and textual history of vernacular prayers or the intertextuality of devotional manuscripts as related to the possibility of dating and localising individual or particular groups of manuscripts.

The following points serve as suggestions for possible proposals. Interested scholars may of course submit proposals on the transmission of artistic patterns in late medieval manuscript illumination that are not listened among the following:

– Artistic itinerary: on the transmission of artistic patterns across national borders
– Decoration and layout: strategies of illustration in various types of devotional manuscripts and their relation to other media
– On the relation between royal commissions and standardised production: case studies
– Structuring regional centres: exchange and characterisation of the local production
– Continuity and the aesthetic value of the pattern: how a good idea survives and how its diffusion is reconstructable
– The development of the historiated border in the 2nd half of the 15th century in France and Flanders
– Intermediality and strategies of adaptation: exchange between panel and miniature painting
– On dating and localising artistic production outside the capitals
– Between manuscript illumination, printing and stained glass: on the historic reality of the intermediary artist
– Exchange between the illustration of secular and devotional manuscripts. Case studies on the transfer of artistic patterns
– Rediscovering antiquity: new iconographies in manuscript illumination
– Italian art in the northern Europe: the reinterpretation of motives and their reutilisation
– French and Flemish manuscript illuminations in Italy.

We ask interested scholars to submit their proposals (ca. 300 words) by the end of July 2011 to Joris C. Heyder and  Christine Seidel. You may contact us with any question concerning the colloquium and modes of submission.

Application deadline: 30 July 2011.

Source: H-ArtHist

Christie’s: London, 8 June 2011

AUCTION: Valuable Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s (8 King Street, St. Jame’s, London), 8 June 2011, 2:30 PM, 81 lots.

The following entries are of particular interest:

Lot 2
ST JEROME IN THE DESERT, full-page miniature on a leaf from a prayerbook in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [northern Italy, third quarter 15th century]150 x 120mm. The saint shown kneeling and looking up at an apparition of the Crucifix; verso with 13-line suffrage to St Sebastian in a gothic bookhand, a two-line illuminated initial with gold sprays (the white or silver of the sea oxidized, small hole to lower left corner, upper left edge with a small rust-stained loss). Window-mounted, framed and glazed, etc. …

Lot 3
SAINT JAMES AND SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST, two cuttings from an ILLUMINATED CHOIRBOOK ON VELLUM [Lombardy, c.1470-80]89 x 68mm and 90 x 71mm. Both the Evangelist, reading his Gospel, and St James, holding a pilgrim’s staff and book, are shown standing before a pink wall on a marble ground, with trees and a starry sky beyond, traces of initial staves at the upper edges; versos with remains of text and music of square notation (each with small pinhole at upper corner and remnants of glue at upper edge, the latter affecting James’s halo and surrounding sky). Each window-mounted, framed and glazed, etc. ….

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The Cult of Images in Light of Pictorial Graffiti

MARCIA KUPFER, The Cult of Images in Light of Pictorial Graffiti at Doué-la-Fontaine, in Early Medieval Europe, volume 19, 2011, pp. 125-152.


In the late 1960s the archeologist Michel de Boüard excavated a motte at Doué-la-Fontaine, near Saumur. Buried within the earthen mound was a stone edifice that, between the mid-tenth and early eleventh centuries, had been transformed from a single-storey aristocratic residence to a multi-storey tower better suited to new military needs. De Boüard there discovered pictorial graffiti, incised in rough plaster across a wall in the blinded ground storey: among them were several unusually elaborate compositions. Building on his perspicacious analysis of the physical evidence, Marcia Kupfer situates the graffiti, dating from c. 1000, in the wider matrix of contemporary visual and religious culture. The material enriches our understanding of a major historical phenomenon for which the millennial era is watershed, namely the emergence and proliferation of cult images.

Manuscripts mentioned in the essay:
Evangeliary of Francis II (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Lat. 257)
Breton Gospel Book (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Laud Lat. 26)
Visio monachi Rotberti by the deacon Arnold (Clermont-Ferrand, Bibliothèque municipale, MS 145)
Life of St Wandrille (St-Omer, Bibliothèque de l’Agglomération, MS 764)
Psalter of Luois the German (Berlin, Staatsbiliothek, MS Lat. Theol. fol. 58).

The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel (catalogue)

ELENA DE LAURENTIIS and EMILIA ANNA TALAMO, The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel. An Epic Journey from Rome to Toledo, Catalogue of the Exhibition Edited by ELENA DE LAURENTIIS, Dallas, Meadows Museum, SMU, January 23 – April 23, 2011 (The Meadows Foundation).


Prefaces (pp. VII-XIII)

Prologue: Ángel Ferdinández Collado, Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana y Buitrón: Portrait of a Great Archbishop of Toledo (Spain) in the Age of Enlightenment (pp. XVII-XXVIII); Elena De Laurentiis, Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana y Buitrón: An  Enlightened Cardinal (pp. XXIX-XXXVI): Elena De Laurentiis and Emilia Anna Talamo, Introduction (pp. XXXVII-XLI).

Essays: Abbreviations (p. XLIV); Emilia Anna Talamo, The Codices of the Sistine Sacristy (pp. 1-21); Elena De Laurentiis, The Codices of the Sistine Sacristy in Toledo (Spain) (pp. 23-28); Elena De Laurentiis, The Liturgical Codices of the Seventeenth-Century Papal Court and the Illuminated Manuscripts of Pope Urban VIII in Toledo (Spain) (pp. 29-56); Elena De Laurentiis, Bibiographical Notes on the Illuminators and Copyists of Pope Urban VIII (57-75).

Catalogue by Elena De Laurentiis: The Oldest Codices (pp. 79-89); The Fifteenth-Century Codices (pp. 90-151); The Sixteenth-Century Codices (pp. 152-187); The Seventeenth-Century Codices (pp. 188-280); The Eighteenth-Century Codices (pp. 281-283).

Appendices: Chronology of Popes (pp. 287-289); Biographies of Cardinals with Coats of Arms (pp. 290-304); Payments to Illuminators (pp. 305-314); Inventories of the Sistine Sacristy (pp. 315-328); Inventory of the Manuscripts of Cardinal Francisco Antonio de Lorenzana y Buitrón (p. 329); Elena De Laurentiis, Location of the Codices of the ‘Sistine Sacristy Inventory of 1714’ (pp. 331-344); Elena De Laurentiis, Sale of the Collection of Abbot Luigi Celotti (pp. 345-362); Elena De Laurentiis, Location of the Lots of the Celotti Sale of 1825 (pp. 363-380); Concordance between the Inventories of the Sistine Sacristy (pp. 381-386); Archival Sources (pp. 387-388); Bibliography (pp. 389-415); Index of Manuscripts Cited (pp. 416-420); Index of Illuminators and Copyists (pp. 421-422); Index of Personal and Place Names (pp. 423-434); Index of Subjects (pp. 435-438); Index of Catalogue Illustrations (pp. 439-444); Photography Credits (pp. 445-446); and Checklist of the Exhibition (pp. 447-448).

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Illuminated Manuscripts at the Chazen Museum

EXHIBITION – Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections, The Chazen Museum of Art, Madison (Wisconsin), 18 December 2010 – 27 February  2011. Curator: Maria Saffiotti Dale.

The Chazen Museum of Art of Madison (Wisconsin) presents Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections, an exhibition that brings together rarely seen ornate handmade books from university libraries, museums, and private collections in seven states.

Illuminated manuscripts were produced in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and early modern period, and the exhibition includes examples of bibles, liturgical manuscripts, devotional books for the laity’s private use, and volumes containing literary, historical, and legal texts.

Approximately forty manuscripts and single leaves, dating from the ninth to sixteenth centuries, are being loaned for Hidden Treasures.

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Manuscripts from Belgium and the Netherlands

THOMAS KREN, Illuminated Manuscripts from Belgium and the Netherlands in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles 2010 (J. Paul Getty Trust), Paperback, 96 pages, 85 color illustrations, $19.95.

During the Middle Ages the geographical region occupied today by Belgium and the Netherlands flourished economically and artistically. While widely known as the era of Jan van Eyck – the great painter in oil on panel – the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries also witnessed one of the greatest flowering of the art of illumination anywhere in Europe. The region’s colorful, naturalistically painted books were eagerly sought after across the continent.

This volume, the fourth in the series on the J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection of European illuminated manuscripts organized by region, includes works by the finest and most original artists for the most discerning patrons: The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold, illuminated by Lievin van Lathem for the Duke of Burgundy, 1469; The Visions of Tondal, illuminated by Simon Marmion for Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy, 1475; The Spinola Hours, 1510-20, considered by some to be the most important Flemish manuscript of the sixteenth century; and The Brandenburg Prayer Book, illuminated by Simon Bening for Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, 1525-30.

These manuscripts were on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from August 24, 2010, through February 6, 2011.  Click here to learn more about the exhibition.