Week 6: Manuscript illumination, printing, and book design

Note: There is no slide list for this week. Create your own in order to understand how illuminated manuscripts are constructed, and so that you can identify constituent parts. The list is in constant flux, too, as I revise the lecture to avoid having to show a film everybody loves to hate. Some of what I show in class is linked below. Some hasn't caught up yet. Links on printing (for later in the quarter) follow the links on manuscripts. Images not listed below are most likely to be found in the Kleiner textbook.

You will need to be able to diagram or complete a diagram of a standard manuscript. Use the examples below, and some of the sources at right to help you do so--especially if you unwisely miss this lecture. A crash course for grade schoolers has been developed by Amy E. Bruce: Illuminations: A lesson in the art of Illuminated Letters, and is really helpful with some of the process and terminology involved. Her students did a good job of rethinking illumination in the modern world.

For links to the chart I showed on tools, and more information on process, go to the "Learning center" from the exhibit at the Philadelphia Coalition of Library Special Collections exhibit, Leaves of Gold.

For fun, and for possible serious edification, take a look at the blog, Got Medieval. Its author, Carl Pyrdum is a grad student with a firm grasp on things Medieval (especially manuscripts) and an affection for pop culture treatments of the period.

Speaking of pop culture: here's a link to the home page for The Secret of Kells. One of the directors has been blogging on the film since 2005. The image gallery and the trailer are nice. High-res screen shots are available here, along with the official trailer (also on the Kells blog). It was nominated for an Academy Award last year (best animated film), but got little play and wasn't released to theaters around here. Those of my students who've seen it, however, say it's quite lovely.

Illumination and early books

It would be difficult to understate the importance of manuscript illumination and early books to the development of all forms of graphic design. The creation of early hand-written works, and the decoration of texts provided models not only for the printed books that emerged in the fifteenth century, but to modern book and magazine design as well. In addition, the intricate images created by the artists who made these books offer a wealth of ideas for fashion designers, animators, and all manner of visual storytellers.

Maps: Monastacism In Early Christianity (Met); Historical map of Britain ca. 802 and one ca. 600 (UT); an interactive maps of Lands of the Celts and Romans.

Images of various steps in the manuscript production process are available from many of the sources listed below and on the side bar. Make sure you understand the terms: parchment (and or vellum), scribe, scriptorium, miniature, minim, delimit, initials (decorated and historiated--know the difference), rubrication, signature, catchword, border, drollery. Know something about pigment and media, and how gold leaf was applied.

Insular Manuscripts

Lindisfarne Gospels

I showed the opening page of St. Luke's gospel, from the British Library site. An interesting related article: "Lindisfarne's Dark Age gospel factory unearthed" from the London Independent, in 1997. The image of the carpet page comes from the textbook.

For some "illumination" on manuscript production, see this excellent page from Regia Anglorum: "The Write Stuff." For blog-lovers, see this informative page on Medieval manuscript videos by Dr. Richard Nokes of Troy University, and check out his blog, Unlocked Wordhoard.

Book of Durrow

Both of the images I showed, plus others, are available here. (A gift: here's a free font based on the manuscript; the site offers other fonts as well.) A page from the University of California at San Diego on the history of printing puts these early books incontext

The Book of Kells, seventh to ninth centuries AD/CE.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington is currently featuring an exhibit called The Book of Kells and the Art of Illumination. It's nicely designed, with images of the Book of Kells and other manuscripts from elsewhere in Europe. Wikipedia's article is well-researched and has nice images to boot.

Stockholm Codex Aureus, (also known as the Codex Aureus of Canterbury), ca. 750. This is from a site you should bookmark for future exploration: Jeremy Norman's History of Science.com.

Introductory prayers in a Psalter, probably from Ireland, late 12th Century. British Library.

Manuscripts in Gothic hands

The Belles Heures of Jean of France, Duke of Berry, 1406–8 or 1409. Pol, Jean, and Herman de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France, by 1399–1416); made in Paris. Ink, tempera, and gold leaf on vellum. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Timeline of Art History. In March the Met is mounting a special exhibition of the Belle Heures, with a video introduction.

"April" from Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry. This is from the calendar section, painted between 1412-1416. Also shown: February and March. These and the other calendar pages are available at this link. (WebMuseum). The Christus Rex pages show the whole book. In addition to the calendar pages, I showed a page including a miniature of St. Luke at a desk.

Book of Hours, Utrecht, 1470.

Book of Hours, Bruges, 1494. I've included this because its illustrations are similar to those being created for the Saint John's Bible.

The Initial R, with the Annunciation, from a Gradual, ca. 1300. German; Probably made at the convent of Sankt Katharinenthal, Lake Constance. Tempera and gold leaf on parchment. Met Timeline of Art History.

Initial G[audeamus omnes] from a Gradual: The Court of Heaven. Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci c. 1370-1377

Historiated Initial M with Christ and the Apostles. Leaf from a Gradual by the Master of the Morgan Biblia Pauperum. Germany, Regensburg, c. 1435

Historiated Initial A With the Pentecost. Painted by Stefano da Verona about 1430-35 (Met).

Many prayerbooks and other sacred texts were illuminated with imaginary creatures. Here are two from the collection of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek's page on Absolutely Fabulous Animals: a Griffin (1460) and a Unicorn (1323); you have to click on the "Fabulous Animals" thumbnail to get to the page. The text is a little precious (with references to Harry Potter), but the images and information are helpful.

Other sacred texts

The Book of Genesis from the Xanten Bible, 1294. The link is to the NY Public Library's page on the decoration of Medieval Hebrew manuscripts. Scroll down for the image.

The Prato Haggadah c. 1300. The linked site is devoted to an exposition of this manuscript, which provides a rare opportunity to see how the construction process worked.

Page from the Washington Haggadah, "Ho Lahma" ("This Bread of Affliction), created by Joel ben Simeon, called Feibush Ashkenazi of Bonn, in 1478.

A manuscript page of the Qur’an in the script developed in al-Andalus, 12th century. Against my usual practice, I have linked a Wikipedia page, in hopes that you'll read about the period in question. And here's a lovely 16th-century illuminated Qur'an from India, courtesy of the British Museum.

Secular works

Religious texts were not the only reading material to be illuminated. Quite early on we begin to find secular works also embellished with images--some of them quite detailed and well rendered, others less so.

Al-Maqamat (The Sessions), Abu Muhammad al Qasim ibn Ali al-Hariri (1054-1122). Copy completed in 1237 by Yahya ibn Mahmud ibn Yahya ibn Abi al-Hasan ibn Kuwwarih al-Wasiti

Anatomical illustration showing the veins, from a medieval miscellany. England, late 12th c. (Oxford)

The Anatomy of the Human Body Mansur ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Yusuf Ibn Ilyas (ca. 1390).

Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-'Ibadi, 809?-873 (known as Joannitius). Isagoge Johannitii in Tegni Galeni. The translation is from the 13th century. This image is from a page on Medical Manuscripts from the National Library of Medicine. The historiated initials are located on the page with images of the manuscript.

An anonymous Persian treatise on astronomy, from 1552.

Lancelot compilation, Brabant, c. 1320. (Koninklijke Bibliotheek; note: the Koninklijke Library has recently redesigned its website--nicely, I might add--so here's a link to the Hundred Highlights page where all of the images I've chosen, plus many more, can be seen.)

Der Naturen Bloeme, Jacob van Maerlant, Flanders or Utrecht, c. 1350. (Koninklijke Bibliotheek)

The Koninklijke Bibliotheek, or the National Library of the Netherlands, is a treasure trove of manuscript and printing history. The site is available in English at the link, and is well worth exploring.

Modern-Day Illumination Projects

Saint John's Bible: Here's the page for the project, which will produce an entirely hand-written and illuminated edition of both the Old and New Testaments in English, with contemporary graphic work. A new exhibit at the Library of Congress features more images and some background information on the project.

Hannukah Illuminated: A Book of Days. According to the web page, "Created by professional, award-winning artist Ellen Frank and renown Hebrew writer and translator Everett Fox, Hanukkah Illuminated: A Book of Days will be an original illuminated manuscript combining exquisite paintings with unique texts crafted in the great tradition of Hebrew illuminations. Speaking in a contemporary voice while echoing the great illuminated paintings which flourished in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Hanukkah Illuminated will present the original ancient stories of Hanukkah in fresh, modern translations." A limited number of facsimile editions will be produced after the manuscript is completed. Helen Frank is also illuminating the Morte D'Arthur (there's a link on the above page)

Note: This section is also in flux. Do, however, be able to describe how printing follows manuscript design as the new technology develops. Remember, also, that this is yet another example of Uhlmeyer's Rules of Technological Development #312, which states that "New technologies often follow the forms of the old."

The invention of printing and a (very) brief history of typography

This list is rather different from what I showed in class, but many of my examples are included. The idea is to understand the relationship between manuscripts and the design of early printed books, as well as to recognize the technological innovations that made printing possible: moveable type, paper, the printing press, etc. For the importance of printing in the Renaissance, see this page on Printing and Thinking from Annenburg Media. Be able to describe and/or diagram the different basic printing techniques: relief (woodcut, block, stamping), intaglio (etching, engraving), and planar (stencil, lithography, screen printing), and to give examples of relief and intaglio.

Birdpress's page provides some nice diagrams of printing processes. Go to "Learn about Printmaking" and click on each process.

An early recipe for ink from the National Archives in Britain. There's a further link to William Caxton's first page printed in England.

Early printed Book of Hours, 1497. Printed by Etienne Jehannot for Antoine Verard, c. 1497.

Medieval Writing: History, Heritage, and Data Source is a comprehensive page on the process and design of writing in the Middle Ages. More examples of Medieval manuscript hands can be seen on this list of Script Samples from Manuscript Leaves.

Images from the Digital Gutenberg Bible page, British Library. The page is crammed with resources, and allows the reader to compare both the paper and the vellum copies side by side.

The so-called "Bagford Fragment" of the Gutenberg Bible, illuminated in England. (The image is only of the decoration.)

Gutenberg Digital This is an extensive and highly informative site from Germany. Click on the "English Version" button, agree to the conditions, and then proceed.

The Ransom Center at UT Austin's pages on their Gutenberg includes images useful to our understanding of the transition from manuscript to printing. See especially:

Illuminations and Rubrications

Oops! Mistakes and Corrections in the Gutenberg

Liber chronicarum (Nuremberg Chronicle). Michael Wolgemut, 1434-1519. From the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History at the Met.

Ovid's Metamorphoses adapted into French by Colard Mansion, Burges, 1484. Block book, woodcut.

Giovanni Boccaccio, De mulieribus claris (Concerning Famous Women), Louvain, 1487. 76 woodcuts.

Le miroir des plus belles courtisannes de ce temps (The Mirror of the most beautiful Courtesans of the Times) Crispyn van de Passe, Utrecht, 1631.

From a collection of pages on typography from the Rare Book Collection of the Library at the University of Florida:

Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene 1611

La gallerie des femmes fortes (A Gallery of Strong Women) by Pierre Le Moyne 1660

A Hue and cry after part of a pack of hounds, which broke out of their kennel in Westminster. Printed by William Caslon, 1739.

The Fourth Book of Virgil's Aeneid. Printed by John Baskerville, 1757

A poster for a "Frost Fair" on the frozen Thames in February 1684

Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, 1648 (title page)

Both of the previous pages are from She-philosopher.com, which, in part, considers the history of printing technologies and their uses.


Additional Resources

New and Cool: the British Library's "Turning The Pages" online exhibit allows visitors to "turn" the pages and browse through a variety of books from a number of periods--some of which are Medieval illuminated books. See especially the Lutrell Psalter for images of Medieval Life. The Kelley Library also has a film on this book.

New at the Met: Choirs of Angels: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300–1500, an exhibit featuring music illuminated with miniatures and historiated initials, as well as borders and other examples of the principles of manuscript illumination.

A good example of non-Christian manuscript illumination can be seen in the new Met exhibit, Early Buddhist Manuscript Painting: The Palm-Leaf Tradition.

For folks interested in the book arts and their history, see this exhaustive article from the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands, better known as KB) on the manufacture of parchment and leather, from its new section on book conservation. The main library page is a portal to myriad interesting articles on books and manuscripts, as well as a multitude of images.

The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford's Centre for the Study of the Book includes images and articles on book history and technology.

I conducted a YouTube search for medieval manuscripts, and here are the results. One of the "videos" (it's really more like a slide show with music) uses manuscript illuminations to illustrate the process. Others include examples from different collections.

In order to disabuse yourself of the many untruths about Medieval life, please consult these sites: James Franklin's Myths about the Middle Ages and Sharan Newman's briefer "Six things that 'everyone knows' about the Middle Ages that aren't true."

A new exhibition, The Hidden Masters of the Middle Ages: the Limbourg Brothers includes a short Quicktime film on the brothers and their context. There are also video tours, virtual tours, and a complete catalogue available online.

Also new: The Gutenberg Bible at the Ransom Center from UT Austin. The materials for educators section has some good information and nice images that illustrate the process.

Even newer: I just found a page on making type by hand. It should prove illuminating. So should A website about the development, shape and use of typefounders' moulds which contains beautiful illustrations depicting the history of typesetting.

Online Manuscripts and Manuscript Collections: A Web Directory lists a substantial number of useful pages (it's where I found the site linked above). Not all of the links work, but enough do to make it worthwhile to visit the page.

Manuscript Illumination and the History of Printing

One of the best all-around sources on this topic can be found at the History of the Book section of the Medieval and Renaissance Book Production pages from the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies. The first essay is on Manuscript Books and the second on Printed Books.

Gutenberg to Gates: 500 Years of Books from Printing Press to Computer features a collection of books and images from the history of books and printing, at the Springfield Library, Springfield, Massachusettes.

The Middle Ages: Illuminated Manuscripts

Medieval Writing History Heritage and Data Source by Dianne Tillotson. This is a superb site, containing everything from a rationale for studying Medieval manuscripts, to exercises designed to help them make sense. Tillotson (an Australian--hence the spellings) also includes a glossary, and high-quality images.

The Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge University) offers a very helpful section called Making Art which uses a Flash presentation to illustrate the process of creating a manuscript.

The New York Public Library offers a mini-course on the history of Hebrew manuscript illumination, with many examples from the thirteenth through eighteenth centuries.

The Getty Museum's new exhibit, Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, has a "zoom & explore" feature that allows viewers to examine selected manuscripts in detail.

Also at the Getty: The Medieval Bestseller: Illuminated Books of Hours. And take a look at this past exhibition on Illuminated Choir Books.

Leaves of Gold: Treasures of Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections. This page contains a number of illustrations, and includes a "learning center" with information about the illumination process--including a page for kids on the process of creating and illuminating a manuscript page.

William Morris: Some Notes on the Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages. If you're offended by Marxists, stay off the main page; but you should still read this rather eloquent, relatively short treatise on illumination. Morris, as you will discover, founded the Arts and Crafts movement in England, and is responsible--directly and indirectly--for many of the sensibilities about design that we hold dear today. Morris came to know Medieval manuscripts so well that the Librarian at Oxford sought his expertise in later years, according to one of Morris's biographers, Fiona McCarthy.

In addition to DScriptorium, which I highly recommend, a number of good sites on Medieval manuscripts are available. One of the loveliest books ever created is the Tres Riches Heures of the Duc de Berry, composed and painted by the Limbourg brothers in the early fifteenth century. The Duke of Berry, in fact, commissioned at least three books of hours that I know of. One is the Belle Heures of which I have a facsimile copy.

For other examples of illuminated manuscripts, see The Bodleian Library at Oxford University, which is creating an on-line image catalogue of illuminated works. The Koninklijke Library (The National Library of the Netherlands) has a terrific collection of graphic works, which can be used throughout this course, as well as a significant Medieval collection. If you're interested in how illuminated manuscripts were produced, look at the History of Scriptoria site.

The Colophon Gallery, a site devoted to contemporary manuscripts, provides a brief history of the Illustrated Book up to modern times.

Just located: A terrific page called In the Margins of the Past: Manuscripts as Historical Documents from the Vatican Library. It offers huge, gorgeous scans of the pages--almost like being able to see them in person. There's also brief commentary on each image.

William Blake provides an interesting blend of illumination and printing, in a truly unique style. Peek here at the Octavo Press page on Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, which they've just published as a digitally scanned CD, as they have with his Book of Urizen.

Paper and paper history

Professor Peter Fuchs is a chemist who specializes in book conservation. He holds a post in the Restoration and Conservation of Archives, Graphics and Book Illumination at the University of Applied Sciences, Cologne. His article in the Karger Gazette on the History and Biology of Parchment is, well, illuminating.

To understand how the technology of papermaking was developed, go to the Robert C. Williams American Museum of Papermaking. Go to "Education" and click on "virtual tour." Paperonline has a history page worth visiting, with a timeline interface, and a number of other useful pages about paper and its impact. HQ Papermaker is a Thai site with another page on history. The International Association of Paper Historians (and you thought my field was esoteric) needs to re-design its page, but it's useful--and multilingual. Not online, but really good is The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World (Yale University Press, 2001) by Jonathan Bloom. I'll order it for the Library, but if you've got 45 bucks to spend, it's a beautiful investment. For basic information on handmade paper, see Twinrocker's page. The film on this company's genesis and techniques is available in the Kelley Library. Another good source: Hand Papermaking; see especially their Articles for Beginners. If you'd like to try your hand at basic recycled papermaking, see this article from Exploratorium Magazine.

Japanese Woodblock Printing

The influence of Japanese art in general on the West would be difficult to measure. I'm including in this section sites which help to locate that influence on the craft of printing in general, and on the development of modern art (especially through the Impressionists) in particular. The Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute features a long, highly informative article that you may find useful: Visions of People: The Influences of Japanese Prints—Ukiyo-e Upon Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century French Art by Patricia Flynn. This page on Viewing Japanese Prints has a large number by a large number of artists--including Hiroshige, whose prints were collected by numerous Western artists, such as Monet and Cezanne.

Printing Technology and History

For a helpful essay on this topic, go to Bruce Jones's page, The History of Printing. The Meyerovich Gallery provides a nice glossary of printing terms, with examples.

The Rise of Printing in China and its Impact on the West is a well-constructed paper by Stephen Greenhalgh, a student in the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Alberta. It nicely summarizes the topic and provides a bibliography. An amusing (but not particularly informative) PowerPoint presentation on the history of printing technologies can be found in .pdf format at The Origins of Printing.

The Gutenberg Bible. This site features digital images and research materials on the first great printing project in history.

The most comprehensive site devoted to this topic available on the web is The History of Printing from the University of California at San Diego. Created and maintained by Bruce Jones, the site contains both text and images, and has a substantial bibliography--although he now warns us not to take the site too seriously. Still, the information is pretty solid, so I think you can trust it for the general outline of printing and book history.

Another good historical site, Printing: Renaissance & Reformation, has been created by the University of South Carolina. Go to the site on Block Books if you'd like to see one way in which books were printed before the printing press was invented. This new site from the University of Delaware covers the history of Color Printing in the Nineteenth Century. It provides excellent information and high-quality images.

Paper, Leather, Clay, and Stone features a special exhibit from the Cornell University Library on the history of writing and printing. Graphic Design: Typography contains documents from the University of South Florida Library's Rare Book Collection.

Rome Reborn: The Vatican Library and Renaissance Culture features some lovely scans of early books (both manuscript and printed) on mathematics, humanism, botany, and various other topics.

Some links pages on book history:

Canadian Bookbinders & Book Artists Guild Book Arts Links
Book, Manuscript, and Printing History (from About.com)
Columbia College's Chicago Center for the Book and Paper Arts links page

For a look at how the book has been perceived in the twentieth century, see this page on publications by Italian Futurist theorists.

The links on my Humanities page, "Book Arts and Artist's Books," may also prove useful--especially in terms of what modern designers have made of the concept of the book.

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