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Which statement best defines the early Christian illuminated manuscripts?

Theresa Perry

in Arts

1 answer

1 answer

Tara Andrews on July 30, 2018

An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented with the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations. In the strictest definition of the term, an illuminated manuscript only refers to manuscripts decorated with gold or silver. However, in both common usage and modern scholarship, the term is now used to refer to any decoration or manuscript illustrated from the Western or Islamic traditions. Comparable Far Eastern works are always described as painted, as often are Islamic and Mesoamerican works. The earliest surviving substantive illuminated manuscripts are from the period AD 400 to 600 (also in the gothic period), primarily produced in Ireland, Constantinople and Italy. The importance of these works lies not only in their inherent art history value, but in the maintenance of a link of literacy offered by non-illuminated texts. Had it not been for the monastic scribes of Late Antiquity, the literature of Greece and Rome would have perished; as it was, the patterns of textual survivals were shaped by their usefulness to the severely constricted literate group of Christians. The existence of illuminated manuscripts as a way of giving stature and commemoration to ancient documents may have been largely responsible for their preservation in an era when barbarian hordes had overrun continental Europe and ruling classes were no longer literate. The majority of the surviving manuscripts of the Middle Ages, although many illuminated manuscripts survive from the 15th century Renaissance, along with a very limited number from Late Antiquity. The majority of these manuscripts are of a religious nature. However, especially from the 13th century onwards, an increasing number of secular texts were illuminated. Most illuminated manuscripts were created as codices, which had superseded scrolls; some isolated single sheets survive. A very few illuminated manuscript fragments survive on papyrus. Most medieval manuscripts, illuminated or not, were written on parchment (most commonly of calf, sheep or goat skin), but most manuscripts important enough to illuminate were written on the best quality of parchment, called a role, traditionally made of unsplit calf skin, although of high quality parchment from other skins was also called parchment. From the late Middle Ages manuscripts began to be produced in the paper. Very early printed books were sometimes produced with spaces left for rubrics and miniatures, or were given illuminated initials, or decorations in the margin, but the introduction of printing rapidly led to the decline of illumination. Illuminated manuscripts were produced in the 16th century, but in much smaller quantities, especially for the very wealthy. The decoration of this page from a French Book of Hours, ca.1400, includes a miniature, initials and bordersIlluminated manuscripts are the most common item to survive from the Middle Ages.[citation needed] they are also the best-preserved specimens of medieval painting and the best preserved. In fact, for many areas and time periods, are the only examples of the painting.

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