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!


Barbara Schoeneberger said...

I love these illustrated manuscripts. The monk that did this one had a sense of humor. I like your surmise that St. Benedict is weary from governing the monks. It looks like he is seated in his abbatial chair. Governing is no fun, but the Benedictine rule is so sane it lightens the load.

Staying in Balance said...

The monks that did the illuminating really did have a sense of humor.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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