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From the Latin illuminare, to "throw light upon," "lighten," or "brighten." Illumination is the art of adorning manuscripts with the richly colored and sometimes gilded decorations known as miniatures, historiated, inhabited, and decorated initials, and ornamented borders.

Written by hand, or the resulting handwritten, rather than printed, document or book. Most European manuscripts of the Middle Ages are made of highly durable parchment.

illuminated manuscripts
A handwritten and hand-decorated book. The paintings in manuscripts are known as illuminations because they "light up" the page with their radiant colors, especially the glow of gold and silver.

books of hours
A Christian lay person's book of prayers and devotions for the eight canonical hours of the day: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. These books were usually embellished with illuminations such as miniatures and decorated letters.

Animal skin, especially sheep, goat, and calf, specifically prepared for writing. According to legend, parchment was developed in the second century AD. in Pergamon, the modern city of Bergama, Turkey. The pages of medieval manuscripts were usually made of parchment.

City in Asia Minor, founded in the Hellenistic period. Pergamon quickly became a center of art, culture, and learning: a "second Athens." Pergamene artists developed a distinctive sculptural style marked by exaggerated musculature, active poses, and intense emotion.

A durable, quick-drying, water-based paint. Egg yolk is used as a binder in paintings, egg white in manuscripts. Because the colors are hard to blend, tempera lends itself particularly well to a linear technique of small brushstrokes, called hatching.

From the Latin miniare, referring to the red pigment minium often used in lettering or artwork. The term originally referred to the paintings in medieval illuminated manuscripts. Miniature later came to be used for small, detailed paintings, particularly portraits.

medieval calendar
A calendar that served as a map of the Church year.

The source of something or its place of origin.

These definitions are from http://www.getty.edu/art/collections/objects/o1726.html and http://www.wordsmyth.net/.


These pages are the work of the students enrolled in Art 238, "Art and Medieval Mentalities," taught by Professor Christine Hamza during the Spring Semester, 2003.

The format of this site was last updated:  October 2, 2017.