Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work

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Yale University Press, Jan 1, 1992 - Art - 214 pages
Who were the medieval illuminators? How were their hand-produced books illustrated and decorated? In this beautiful book Jonathan Alexander presents a survey of manuscript illumination throughout Europe from the fourth to the sixteenth century. He discusses the social and historical context of the illuminators' lives, considers their methods of work, and presents a series of case studies to show the range and nature of the visual sources and the ways in which they were adapted, copied, or created anew. Alexander explains that in the early period, Christian monasteries and churches were the main centers for the copying of manuscripts, and so the majority of illuminators were monks working in and for their own monasteries. From the eleventh century, lay scribes and illuminators became increasingly numerous, and by the thirteenth century, professional illuminators dominated the field. During this later period, illuminators were able to travel in search of work and to acquire new ideas, they joined guilds with scribes or with artists in the cities, and their ranks included nuns and secular women. Work was regularly collaborative, and the craft was learned through an apprenticeship system. Alexander carefully analyzes surviving manuscripts and medieval treatises in order to explain the complex and time-consuming technical processes of illumination - its materials, methods, tools, choice of illustration, and execution. From rare surviving contracts, he deduces the preoccupation of patrons with materials and schedules. Illustrating his discussion with examples chosen from religious and secular manuscripts made all over Europe, Alexander recreates the astonishing variety and creativity ofmedieval illumination. His book will be a standard reference for years to come.


Technical Aspects of
Contracts for Illumination

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