Tonight I am flying to England. I will spend a week at Christ Church (that’s the name of the college) in Oxford. The graceful Tom Quad is pictured above.
And what will I be doing there? Taking a one week class in medieval illuminated manuscripts. I have always loved seeing them, but know very little about them, so figured it would be a good class choice!
This is a page from the Old Testament, created in England in the first half of the 15th century.
I think the class will be a combination of history and art, and that will be fine with me! The word “illuminated” just means decorated and illustrated, and “manuscripts” really does mean “written by hand”. These were made in medieval times, right up until the invention of the printing press. Scribes and monks carefully spent years creating Psalters, books of Hours, copies of the books of the Bible, whole Bibles and even copies of sacred music. Here is a closer look at another manuscript, from 1425:
I am really hoping that I will learn about the different scrolls, vines, leaves and other design figures used. Here is another page of script, which was left uncompleted, so you can see the design at an early stage:
I have packed a small sketchbook and a few drawing pens, just in case I want to try out reproducing some of the simpler elements I see… you never know what something like this will lead to!
Well, I will know more about these manuscripts before the coming week is out, and know absolutely that my time at Christ Church will be magical, and will go by fast!
All these examples are from the collection of the British Library. Stay well, and hook on!