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During the Middle Ages books made from parchment, written laboriously by hand, illuminated with gold, and painted with costly pigments, were prized by ecclesiastical and lay patrons as the most desirable of possessions. Join us on this six week course to explore various aspects of medieval illuminated manuscripts and some early printed books, including the close study of examples from the V&A's collection.
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During the Middle Ages books made from parchment, written laboriously by hand, illuminated with gold, and painted with costly pigments, were prized by ecclesiastical and lay patrons as the most desirable of possessions. Gerald of Wales, a late twelfth-century chronicler, was so impressed by a manuscript he saw that he exclaimed it must have been “the work of an angel”. Such volumes are equally appreciated today, in part for their intrinsic beauty as well as for the light they shed on various aspects of medieval life. The materials and techniques used to produce them reveal a great deal about the working methods of medieval craftsmen. The texts and illustrations of Bibles, Psalters, Books of Hours, and the works of secular authors such as Pliny and Petrarch inform us about patterns of public worship, private devotion, intellectual pursuits and the everyday lives and leisure interests of the men and women who commissioned and used them. This course will feature seven of the V&A’s fine collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts and early printed books, as well as volumes from other libraries.
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