JONATHAN J. G. ALEXANDER    Book Number: 86977    Product format: Hardback

In the late middle ages, around 1450, the High Gothic style of hand-painted manuscript illumination gave way to a Renaissance pictorial style and a new classically inspired script. At the same time, a revolutionary form of illumination for initial letters, the Florentine white vine, made its appearance and spread rapidly throughout Europe, assisted by England's occupation of Paris after 1420 which scattered the illuminators of Paris, considered the best in the world, around the globe. Patrons ranging from the Medici in Florence to Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, brother of Henry V of England, commissioned and collected a dazzling range of Renaissance manuscripts. This big, stunningly illustrated book is a major survey of illumination in a transitional period that is often ignored by art historians, organised geographically and chronologically. Christ, cherubs, knights on horseback, lions, angels depicted in glowing colour and gold. Rome lost influence when the papacy transferred to Avignon in the late 14th century, but by the mid-15th century major artists such as Andrea da Firenze and Giuliano Amadei were back working at the Vatican. Typical of the period is a manuscript of the Natural History of Pliny the Elder in the V&A from around 1460, attributed to the Piccolomini Master and showing an initial M in white vine coils. The art historians Pächt and Panofsky argued that manuscript decoration went into decline in this period not only because of the invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century but also because of the introduction of perspective in the work of painters such as Masaccio. The author, however, believes the reasons are more complex and that the love of handling a beautiful book in fact continues into the present. Supplementing the scholarly text are substantial notes and a comprehensive bibliography, but this impressive book is remarkable above all for its hundreds of manuscript reproductions. 10" x 11¾", 444pp.
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Published price: £50
Bibliophile price: £32.00

Additional product information

ISBN 9780300203981
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