Wednesday, 10 October 2012

The Winchester Bible


Most people associate Romansque and Gothic art in England with castles and cathedrals rather than paintings since most mediaeval wall paintings were painted by by Protestant or destroyed in the Civil WAr of the 17th century or by other fires and events.

However there was an English tradition and several styles of painting that survive in some illuminated manuscripts.

One of the most famous of these is the Winchester Bible from the 12th century which can be viewed at the Cathedral library of that city.

Many general histories cite only Franco-Flemish examples usually the Book of Hours by the Limbourg brothers but people were producing books all over Europe.

Illuminated mansucripts are labor intensive tho. Analysis shows six different artists working on the Winchester bible and many of the illustrations are only ink drawings clearly meant to be colored later.  Artists scribes and  book binders they all had to be paid and while ink is cheap the best ground mineral pigments were expensive. Hence the decline in Illuminated manuscripts when printing was introduced.

Even in China and Japan where there was a cultural preference for hand copying as having status demand for print triumphed.

However perhaps some day soon we may have online bibles that are full textual linkages and illustrated and as vividly beautiful as works like the Winchester bible?