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A History of Illuminated Manuscripts Paperback – September 26, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This 1986 title throws light on the world of illuminated manuscripts, which function as works of both art and literature. De Hamel provides a full history of the illuminated manuscript through text and dozens of glorious color illustrations.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'It is no mere history, but an original, lively and richly illustrated commentary.' (Times Literary Supplement) 'Gorgeous and informative. A wonderful introduction to handwritten books from the Dark Ages to the invention of printing in the fifteenth century.' (Houston Chronicle) 'Lavish, beautiful and sweeping look at the beginning of the printed word.' (Graphic Arts Monthly) 'Along with excellent illustrations, this large volume includes a bibliography and index of manuscripts.' (The Good Book Guide)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Phaidon Press; 2 edition (September 26, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714834521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714834528
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.2 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Other books simply pale in comparison to the beauty, detail and color of this one.
Just A Girl
For anyone who loves illuminated manuscripts, book arts, or the Medieval period in general, this is a wonderful resource.
Susan K. Beal
That is all he does, and his numerous books on the subject show his mastery and command of the subject.
"larkvi"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 83 people found the following review helpful By E. Tobias on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the first illumination book I encourage my students to purchase (with Drogin's history of calligraphy). This is an entirely reasonable price with abundant color and b&w pictures.
Unlike many tretises on the topic, this doesn't limit you to post-1200 Anglo-French. This gives you a true oversight of western european illumination of the entire span of the middle ages (spanish, moorish, greek, latin, etc...)
Added to the benefit of examples, de Hamel doesn't subject you to the same pictures you've seen in every other 2-bit book (yes, Victoria, other books existed before 1200 besides the Book of Kells).
The text is thoughtful without being dry and boring. This is written for an audience which is expected to appreciate the subject, without assuming you've devoted your life to it already.
Walk, do not run, to get this. A must for anyone who is learning how to illuminate.
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By "larkvi" on March 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Chris DeHamel works researching books for Sotheby's. That is all he does, and his numerous books on the subject show his mastery and command of the subject. Everyday he goes to work, he is getting time to research, free of teaching committments that fetter the ability of other scholars to pursue their writing. His research and ability shows in this beatiful and well-written book, which is an excellent introduction to the history of the book and to the processes and culture surrounding the book as an object. His book progresses, chapter-by-chapter, through the different groups that books were designed for, describing where and why they were made, and the special challenges of each. Chock-full of photographs of lavish manuscript writing and art, this volume is not only an extremely suitable textbook for art history and history classes dealing with the book or commodity-culture, but also is a great personal or coffeetable volume, and supremely reasonable at the price it is provided at, considering the cost of so many art texts.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
This provides a lush, seemingly endless procession of early illumination. I rated it a 10 before I got to the text. An absolute must for anyone studying the art of illumination, especially if it is a hands-on study. This provides the best overview of pre-1000 MSS production. Normally I see a handfull of dry pages of text accompanied by just a "oh, here's two b&w pictures of the same stuff you've seen in every other book" - not here!!. I recommend it highly to my students.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By T. Anderson on January 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Christopher De Hamel's "A History of Illuminated Manuscripts" (now in its second edition) is certainly the definitive history for lay readers, but it is probably the best starting place for aspiring professionals as well. It is well-written, faultlessly researched, and copiously illustrated. I happily use it in my university course on illuminated manuscripts together with Ingo Walther's "Masterpieces of Illumination" (published by Taschen)--in my opinion, the perfect companion piece.

The second edition of De Hamel's book is structured as was the first: an informative introduction is followed by chapters which divide and discuss the manuscripts according to their intended users (missionaries, emperors, monks, students, aristocrats, everybody, priests, and collectors); an extended bibliography precedes several useful indexes. This Phaidon paperback edition is a beautiful book, with a white paper cover adorned with a full-color dust-jacket. Many new illustrations have been added, and there are many more color illustrations than there were in the first edition. More importantly, the text has been updated to reflect ongoing research in the field.

My only complaint about this edition is that many of the important full-color and full-page illustrations in the first edition (to which I often referred in my classes) have either been reduced in size or eliminated entirely in the new edition. There are also significant (and inexplicable) differences in the color reproduction of illuminations between the first (David R. Godine, Publisher) edition and this second (Phaidon Press) edition--sometimes the differences are so radical that only a close inspection (or a familiarity with the actual documents) reveals they are photographs of the same manuscript.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Beal on April 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I loved this book! I used it for a graduate course on Illuminated Manuscripts, and it was one of the main textbooks we used, but I used it often after the course as well. I really enjoyed reading it, and found that it was unlike most of the typical text books I had formerly used. For any art history student, it is an outstanding resource. For anyone who loves illuminated manuscripts, book arts, or the Medieval period in general, this is a wonderful resource. It is a book that I consider an indispensable resource in my personal library. It is very well written and easily accessible for anyone. Although some of the terminology may be unfamiliar, it isn't so esoteric that it is beyond the scope of general understanding. It is clearly one of the best resources on the subject that I have ever come across!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. McKinney on April 30, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautiful illustrations; simply page after page of color. While the text is wonderful as well, the medievalist will appreciate it for the large photographs that allow detail to be seen. A must for the manuscript junkie.
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