Romanesque architecture and art: Manuscript Illumination

Manuscript Illumination

Manuscript illumination of the Romanesque period was characterized by a vast enlargement of the traditional fund of pictorial imagery, although in terms of overall execution and calligraphic quality Romanesque illuminated books often show a certain carelessness and lack of refinement. The Psalter, as in the early Middle Ages, continued to be the most widely read volume for religious use, and numerous sumptuously illuminated copies of this work were executed. The Romanesque scriptorium also produced large editions of the Bible, often extending to several volumes. A splendid example of such a work is the Winchester Bible, executed in the course of several generations and decorated with numerous scenes from the Old and the New Testaments. Romanesque manuscripts are enlivened by elaborate and highly inventive initial letters, on which the artists of this period lavished their bent for rich ornamental display.

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