"Here you may see the face of majesty, divinely drawn, here the mystic symbols of the Evangelists. . . . You will make out intricacies, so delicate and subtle, so exact and compact, so full of knots and links, with colours so fresh and vivid, that you might say that all this was the work of an angel, and not of a man." -- Giraldus Cambrensis, Topographia Hiberniae, ca. 1185.Gerald of Wales wrote his ecstatic description of what is most probably the Book of Kells 800 years ago, some 300 years after the work appeared. It remains the best description; he felt and conveyed the Book's power, the mystery that made it even then unique among early medieval manuscripts.
While clearly subject to international influence (Celtic, British, Norman; possibly Italian, Byzantine, and Coptic), the Book of Kells' painters and scribes illumined their work with a purely idiosyncratic beauty. The Book of Kells is more an icon than a typical evangelistary; indeed, the Saint Jerome text of the gospels is frequently corrupt or carelessly rendered, so intent were the artists on their ornament and iconography.
One may still see the glorious ornament on display at Trinity College, Dublin; a more accessible version is this, newly reproduced from a rare facsimile edition. Thirty-two full-page, full-color plates have been selected and painstakingly printed to retain the ineffable handpainted impression of the original leaves. All the full-page decorations, portraits, and illustrations are included, as well as a representative sampling of the textual leaves, in their graceful Insular (half-uncial) calligraphy, interspersed and initialed with an imaginative, fanciful, and even humorous bestiary of lions, lambs, eagles, otters, cats, dragons, birds, fish, and snakes; strange men are seen in the cross-armed Osiris position, entwined in lion's tails, snakes, vines, and peacock feathers. The interlacing and spiraling follow the Insular tradition; in botanical ornament the Book stands apart from that school. The illustrations include vital specimens of Western art: the first image of the Virgin and Child in a Western manuscript, and numerous early representations of the Apocalyptic visionary symbols of the Evangelists; symbols that lost their eeriness in later, diluted form, but that in the Book of Kells, according to one scholar, "retain their wild, unearthly quality. They are perhaps the most striking element in the decoration of the Book."
Perusers of this Book, casual and serious students of art, religion, or Western culture, will echo Giraldus, who wrote: "For my part, the oftener I see the book, and the more carefully I study it, the more I am lost in ever fresh amazement, and I see more and more wonders in the book."
A lavishly produced monograph about a late 15th Century illuminated manuscript. The text is a translation into French, by Vasco da Lucena, of one of the primary sources for the life of Alexander. The illustrations portray the events of the story in contemporary costumes and settings. Now in the John Paul Getty collection, this publication discusses the history of the text and the manuscript itself, with full colour reproduction of each illustration. A beautiful book about a beautiful manuscript.
Illuminated manuscripts are among the richest and most revealing relics of the pre-print Western world, and are central to our understanding of medieval social and cultural history. The British Library boasts the world's finest collection of medieval manuscripts, and in this new and lavishly illustrated survey, Janet Backhouse draws on these collections to provide a comprehensive introduction to these exciting and colourful materials.
The manuscripts featured include bestiaries, psalters, Bibles, books of hours, and medical and herbal collections that originated in workrooms as geographically diverse as the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria and the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. There is also a great chronological diversity among the selected manuscripts, with examples ranging from the seventh century AD and the Lindisfarne Gospels to early Renaissance offerings.
Each of the almost 220 illluminations presented are accompanied by a caption and have been reproduced in colour. Many of the immages chosen have been reproduced here for the first time.
The painted books of ancient Mexico constitute a particularly important chapter of world literature. The work of the tlacuilo, or scribes, goes back thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest; their exquisite manuscripts were written and drawn on native paper or skin and, later, on European paper. The vast majority of these codices were destroyed during the invasion; a precious few have survived. About twenty of the finest of these are in British collections and Professor Brotherston has undertaken a close study of them, comparing them with Mexican books in America and elsewhere.
Besides being beautiful works of art in their own right, the codices offer invaluable insights into the history, religion and legends of the ancient civilisations of Mesoamerica: the Olmec, Maya, Chichimec and Mexica (Aztec). The books meticulously record wars, conquests, dynastic disputes and the biographies of great rulers like the Mixtec king Eight Deer. Complex ritual calendars give a framework for the religious observances of these peoples and offer testimony to their obsession with dates and record-keeping; maps record the spread of the Mexica, Chichimec and Mixtec across Mesoamerica. After the Conquest most of the 'pagan' books were burned, but the book-making tradition continued and retained many of the old forms and conventions. Post-Conquest legal documents, for example, give stark evidence of the rapacity and brutality of the invaders.
In Art, Liturgy, and Legend in Renaissance Toledo, Lynette Bosch examines liturgical manuscripts that members of the powerful Mendoza family commissioned for the cathedral of Toledo at a time when it was the symbolic center of the Spanish nation. Using patronage as a filter, Bosch relates the style, content, and function of these lavish manuscripts to the many-sided ritual life of the Cathedral and, beyond that, to its social and political role in efforts to forge Spanish identity in the midst of the Reconquista.
Bosch's study shows that the patrons of the Toledan manuscripts were active proponents both of the Catholic monarchy and of an extraordinary hybrid culture. Although medieval legend and history are laced through this "caballero culture," Bosch breaks new ground by also connecting it to the taste and outlook associated with the Renaissance. Art, Liturgy, and Legend in Renaissance Toledo includes a complete catalogue of the Toledan liturgical manuscripts.
Included in the magnificent pages of the Mira calligraphiae monumenta are two alphabets. Executed by an unknown hand, the first consists of Roman capital letters; the other is Gothic lower-case letters. As with the calligraphy of Bocskay described above, these alphabets were embellished by Joris Hoefnagel, a painter at the court of Rudolf II. In embellishing the alphabets, Hoefnagel employed symbols and heraldic objects--masks, animals, plants, obelisks--to convey the power and greatness of the emperor.
An Abecedarium contains the thirty-eight pages from the Mira codex that display Hoefnagel's virtuosity in decorating the alphabets. Calligraphers, graphic artists, and all lovers of beautiful books will delight in Hoefnagel's artistry.
This volume explores many fundamental questions regarding Anglo-Saxon history. Among those considered is the question of did the earliest English prose really divide into a Mercian tradition and a separate West Saxon one? What is the full roll-call of extant texts containing late Old English 'Winchester' words? How far was Anglo-Saxon medicine hocus-pocus and how far the fruit of deliberate experimentation? How much Greek vocabulary was known in Anglo-Saxon England, and how was it known and how used? How did Anglo-Saxon land law work in practice? Advances in scholarship, application of modern scientific knowledge of a type not normally available, fresh directions of thought, original analysis, stricter criteria and additions to the stock of primary evidence all characterize this book. The usual comprehensive bibliography of the previous year's publications in all branches of Anglo-Saxon studies rounds off the book.
The vitality of Anglo-Saxon studies is reflected in the continuing acquisition of fresh knowledge and perspectives gained from the combination of disparate but complementary skills and disciplines. Evidence presented in this book reveals unsuspected aspects of the influence of Aldhelm's Latin poetry in early medieval Spain. The many non-runic inscriptions which have been discovered since 1980 are catalogued and analysed. Comprehensive analysis of a little-understood Latin source of the Old English medical treatise known as Bald's Leechbook throws light not only on the English text but also, surprisingly, on the transmissional history of the Latin source. The decoration of an important manuscript from the early tenth century, the Tanner Bede, is set in the context of tenth-century developments in manuscript illumination, and the analysis of the Regularis concordia from an architectural point of view permits fresh understanding of the layout of monastic churches in the later Anglo-Saxon period. The usual comprehensive bibliography of the previous year's publications in all branches of Anglo-Saxon studies rounds off the book.
For two millennia the Bible has inspired the creation of extraordinary art. Within this history illuminated biblical manuscripts are among the best tools for understanding early Christian painting and artistic interpretations of the Bible.
This extensively illustrated new book, compiled and written by two internationally renowned experts, transports readers, by way of forty-five featured manuscripts, across the globe and through 1,000 years of history. Passing chronologically through many of the major centers of the Christian world, from Constantinople and imperial Aachen to Canterbury, Mozarabic Spain, Crusader Jerusalem, northern Iraq, Paris, London, Bologna, and Rome, Scot McKendrick and Kathleen Doyle shed light on some of the finest but least-known paintings from the Middle Ages, and on the development of art, literature, and civilization as we know it.