Illuminated Manuscripts of the

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Perhaps no other art form captures the spirit of the Early Medieval period better than the illuminated manuscripts the were created by the monks and religious scholars. Illuminated manuscripts are very important to us today because they can express the ideas and values of the Medieval society.

The manuscript I chose was created in Normandy in the city of Vellum. This manuscript was finished in 1180.

Until the advent of the Book of Hours in the fourteenth century the Psalter, a book with the texts of the hundred and fifty psalms, was the most important prayer book for ordinary people. This manuscript was elaborately decorated as it was commissioned by wealthy patrons. The amount of gold used in this particular illumination suggests that the patrons were willing to spend their money for religious purposes.

The manuscript contains twenty-six full-page drawings. The first twelve miniatures come from the Calendar. The next fourteen paintings describe the life of Christ.

In the actual text all the psalms are separated by fancy initial letters. Very often, in these initials you can find the scenes that describe the life of David. The most beautiful paintings in this manuscript are the full-page paintings from the calendar that replace the much smaller fancy first letters.

This particular painting is the picture of the month of May. This drawing is very bright and shiny. In this painting a knight on horseback rides out to go hawking. The hawker is covered with an expensive white fur. It suggests that the knight is very rich. It is a male horse and it has very small ears. The knight is shown at the moment of taking off the hawk's hood, a rarely depicted detail. It is not clear where the knight is located since the background is painted in plain gold.