Approaches to Understanding Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
Edited by Colum Hourihane
Publication date:15 May 2014
Length of book:286 pages
Publisherthe Index of Christian Art, Princeton University
Princeton University first started collecting Western manuscripts in 1876 and continues to this day with the specific aim of developing a research and teaching tool. That unique collection of medieval manuscripts forms the nucleus of this collection of essays. Stretching from Ottonian to the late Gothic–early Renaissance periods, these studies examine the secular as well as the religious and look at a variety of themes, from the book of hours to the grisaille manuscript. The studies all attempt to place the university’s collection in the broader framework of manuscript studies, and a number of them deal with general topics not represented within the manuscript library. Written by some of the most celebrated scholars in the field, the studies make every effort to help us understand the power of the written and illuminated word.
The contributors are Adelaide Bennett, Walter Cahn, Marc Michael Epstein, Marilyn Aronberg Lavin, Henry Mayr-Harting, Elizabeth Moodey, Stella Panayotova, Virginia Reinburg, Mary Rouse, Richard Rouse, Lucy Freeman Sandler, Don C. Skemer, Anne Rudloff Stanton, and Patricia Stirnemann.
“. . . Among the rewards of Manuscripta Illuminata is the opportunity it affords to learn about Princeton’s rich holdings of western European material. One can only admire the personification of Music energetically tuning her lute in a miniature in the early 15th-century Milanese Kane Suetonius, and marvel at the tiny folios of the early 14th-century French Chambly Hours, with their postage-stamp-size minatures. Readers will appreciate Sandler’s topical reading of the image of the suicide of a knight in an early 14th-century English psalter, and Moodey’s piquant comparison of manuscripts illuminated in grisaille and semi-grisaille, including Princeton’s late 15th-century Bruges prayerbook, to ‘artificially distressed jeans.’
“. . . Generously illustrated in (nearly) full colour, Manuscripta Illuminata attests to the vitality of manuscript study and its centrality to cultural history.”
—Kathryn A. Smith, The Art Newspaper