chapter  30
12 Pages

Illuminated Manuscripts

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

There are some Romanesque murals still in existence, and Gothic stained glass can be regarded as a combination of mosaic and painting techniques, but the greatest quantity of painting that remains to us from the Middle Ages is in manuscripts. Most of the manuscripts were written and illuminated for the liturgy of the church (see bibliography). Since the Mass or Eucharist is a supreme sacrament of the Christian church, many books such as the Gospels, Sacramentaries, and Missals were written for the celebrant of the Mass. To summarize the changing attitudes toward the treatment of the human form and of space during the Middle Ages, illuminations from eight manuscripts, one panel picture, and one tapestry, all selected from collections in the United States, will be discussed in chronological order. The earliest and latest manuscripts depict the Evangelist Saint Mark, while the six other manuscripts, the panel, and the tapestry interpret the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary.