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.
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.
The Book of Kells, seventh to ninth centuries AD/CE.
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
Initial A With the Pentecost. Painted by Stefano da Verona about
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.
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.
(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
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.
anonymous Persian treatise on astronomy, from 1552.
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."
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.
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:
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:
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.