I is for. . .

4

April 10, 2014 by Ray Yanek

I

Illuminated Manuscripts

I thought I was going to struggle with this letter, but as I’ve been talking about art that

A French "Book of Hours"-- an illuminated prayer book from the 1400's.

A French “Book of Hours”– an illuminated prayer book from the 1400’s.

has inspired characters in some of the fiction that I love, it seemed only fair that I do a post on art inspired by the written word.  And as I’ve been sticking mostly to older works of art, I figured illuminated manuscripts would fit quite nicely here.

Illuminated manuscripts are most often associated with the Middle Ages where hand-painted illustrations were added to the texts of sacred prayer books.  Sometimes the illuminations were elaborate borders, other times they were of scenes and people.  Usually completed with elaborate colors and sometimes even gold and other precious metals, these books became works of art themselves.

And they are beautiful.

For me, illuminated manuscripts bring to images of monks seated at an inclined desk, taking his time with each stroke of the brush as a candle burns and melts to a thick glob of wax on the corner, to mind.

Perhaps the most famous illuminated manuscript is the Book of Kells (circa 800)which

A detail in the Book of Kells showing the elaborateness of the illuminations.

A detail in the Book of Kells showing the elaborateness of the illuminations.

is on display in the Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin. The book contains the four Gospels of the New Testement. I was blessed enough to spend a summer in Ireland as a grad student many moons ago and I visited the Book of Kells (yeah, I know that sentence really screws up the flow, but hey, I don’t get to talk much about that summer anymore!) Anyway, the illuminations are, of course, beautiful. Based on the length and the elaboration it’s awe-inspiring to think that it was all done by hand.

Because of the age and the fragility of the book, only one page is turned a day.  Through the college’s digital imaging services though, you can view the book on-line here.  

Take care.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “I is for. . .

  1. P Liegl says:

    “Incredible” the time it must have taken to do these. Imagine our students taking the time and detail to complete anything like this.

    PL

  2. Illuminated manuscripts just fascinated me. I have a book about the Book of Kells – I got it many years ago, just gorgeous to look at… also have several other books on Illumination. Jaw-dropping work, they did.

  3. This: Because of the age and the fragility of the book, only one page is turned a day.

    Wow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,393 other followers

%d bloggers like this: