Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Art and Beauty Tuesday--Illuminated Manuscripts
This tiny and very old work of art is Saint Benedict from an illuminated manuscript. These figures were drawn inside the initial letters of main pages of hand-copied bibles, Gospels, Psalters and Books of Hours. Sometimes these illustrations were drawn in the margins.
Copying these books was a tedious task, especially since artificial light was limited to candles and oil lamps. In the early part of the Medieval period, the same monks who copied the text did the illuminating. By the High Middle Ages, these jobs were separate and by the 15th century, some monasteries were paying artists outside to do this work.
I love how the artist has shown such emotion in this one little painting. The saint holds his head in his hands in exasperation, perhaps, with the monks he is destined to lead, or perhaps, it is fatigue from the early morning Office he must get up to pray.
Even saints have difficult days!