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Illuminated Manuscripts


From: Bunki Kramer (bkramer_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Aug 31 2003 - 15:19:39 PDT

from: Bunki Kramer (
Los Cerros Middle School
968 Blemer Road
Danville, CA 94526
Two weeks ago before school started, I had a chance to go to the Palace of
the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to see an exhibit of early Medieval
Italian Renaissance illuminated manuscripts ranging from 1200-1300's and
some later ones up to 1800's. Glorious!!!

I was so impressed that the earlier works' gold leafing looks almost as good
as if it were done "yesterday". So clean and intricate. I also noted that
research books have tended to make the parchment look darker but most of the
parchment seemed a "lighter" shade of tan.

Probably the most impressive for me was the size of these pages. Most of
these books must have been huge. Many pages measured 2 1/2 feet by 1 1/2
feet and yet the lettered paintings were so meticulously tiny in
brushstroke. We were actually given (as we walked in), small hand-held
magnifying lens to actually see the intricate work up close. They MUST have
used a similar sort of devise to paint these. Hard to see all with the naked

There were a myriad of books and materials to buy on the subject in the
special exhibit store. There was one that especially caught my fancy and I
wanted to share with you. It's call "Illuminated Manuscripts...A Guide to
Technical Terms" by Michelle P. Brown. It's a soft-cover handbook written
like a dictionary that explains how the pages are "read", parts of the page,
how the book covers were made, symbols, etc. ($14.95)
Printed in Italy...ISBN#0-89236-217-0. I highly recommend it if you are
teaching illuminating manuscripts.

It was a wonderful show. I think it's heading to Cleveland and then on to
NYC. Toodles.....Bunki