Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts

The Romanesque style, which dates from the year 1000, was an international rather than a national style and examples of Romanesque manuscripts come from a wide geographical area. During this period a wider variety of books was produced, including large Bibles and commentaries, lives of Saints, theological works, missals and Psalters as well as Gospels.

Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts

Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts

Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts

An increase in monasticism meant that many books were produced for public use, leading to the production of larger sized books. Romanesque manuscripts feature grotesques (a variety of real and imaginary creatures), textured or gold backgrounds, and historiated initials. These initials, found at the commencement of a chapter, combined the initial of the opening word with foliage, figures or pictures illustrating a portion of the text. These initials, which were more common than full-page illustrations, could sometimes extend the length of the page. One well-known example of a Romanesque manuscript is the Winchester Bible (c.1150-1200AD).

Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts

Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts

The Gothic style dates from around 1150AD and, like the Romanesque, was an international style. The rise of universities and cathedral schools led to an increased demand for books of all kinds. During the Gothic period books became smaller and more delicate, with increased integration between illustrations and text. Generally there was less text on page, with blank spaces in lines of text being filled with decorative bars. Illustrations were sometimes combined with borders, and marginal sketches and grotesques (now known as drolleries) were reintroduced. Historiated initials were reduced in size, but illustrations, known as bas de page, were included at the bottom of text pages. Decorative scrolls of ivy leaves were a feature of many Gothic manuscripts. The mid fourteenth century saw the introduction of original illustrations. Previously text was copied from book to book and so were illustrations (modified of course to suit changing tastes), leading to continuity in iconography. However from mid-fourteenth century some illustrators were making their own images, which became increasingly naturalistic. Famous Gothic manuscripts include the works the Limbourg Brothers produced in the fifteenth century for the Duc de Berry.

2017 History of Graphic Design

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