An Introduction to Illuminated Manuscripts

Topics: Pages: 4 (776 words) / Published: May 14th, 2012
Lindsay Barrientos
Spring 2012
Art 101

Illuminated Manuscripts

The art of work I went to see is “A Fisherman on the Back of a whale” which is illuminated manuscript from the Gothic Area. There is no artist known for this piece, and it is estimated to have been made after 1277. Its dimensions are 9 3/16 x 6 7/16 in. This is a story in a book of many stories, called The Bestiary. The bestiary was in the north pavilion of the Getty Museum, just on the left building after the entrance. I saw renaissance sculptures from the years 1200-1600, until I entered a dark room with these little cases; this is where I found the Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts. All were well protected by glass cases, the room was really dark, but if you were to stand on a point, you would something shining across you, like jewelry, as you become closer to the shiny point, you would realize it is only the book page painted there. It made me feel like the reading was as treasured as gold itself.

Illuminated manuscripts are books written by hand in Latin and painted with precious pigments. The word manuscripts are derived from the Latin words Manus (hand) and Scriptus, from the verb scriber to write. The word illumination comes from the Latin verb Illuminare to light up in which in this context describes to glow created by the radiant colors of the illustrations, specially gold and silver. They were written on Parchment which is animal skin, specially sheep, goat, and calf. Its texture has the ability to withstand the wear and tear of daily handling. Miniatures were painted with a variety of colors, and decorated with gold leaf.

According to the Getty Museum, the increased popularity of illustrated bestiaries during the Gothic Period coincided with a prevalent curiosity about the physical world. These “books of beasts” described animals, their individuals habits interpreted as reflections of the divine order. This gigantic whale was thought to linger on the surface of the water,


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