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Masterpieces of Illumination: The World's Most Famous Manuscripts 400 To 1600 Hardcover – September 19, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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The one book you want if you are interested in illuminated manuscripts-and once you open it, you will be. -- Wall Street Journal - November 30, 2001 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Famous Manuscripts: The fascinating world of medieval miniature painting and illumination From The Book of Kells to Boccaccio’s Decameron and from the Vienna Genesis to Dante’s Divine Comedy - see the breathtaking originals of 167 of the greatest classics of all time. This lavishly produced book introduces the reader to the fascinating world of medieval miniature painting and illumination. 167 of the most beautiful and important medieval scripts from the 4th century to 1600 are presented in chronological order and described in full. Each sample of script is headed by highly informative synopses which serves to orient the reader at a glance. These synopses - together with the abundance of brilliant, large-format reproductions - make this book unparalleled in its field. Although the focus is on European manuscripts (French, Dutch, German, Italian, English and Spanish), examples have also been selected to illustrate the refinement and intricacy of manuscript illumination from non-European cultures (Mexican, Persian, Indian, Ottoman etc.). A 36–page appendix contains! biographies of the artists as well as an extensive bibliography, an index and, most importantly, a glossary in which the technical terms used in the book can quickly be found. This is a rare opportunity to come face-to-face with incredibly precious treasures that one would otherwise never seetreasures once belonging to emperors and kings, and now worth many millions.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Taschen; 25th edition (September 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 382284750X
  • ISBN-13: 978-3822847503
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 1.6 x 12.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #924,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those interested in the sheer beauty of medieval illumination, this book is a wonder. Color repro values among the best I've seen, and the range of both period and style is superb. The huge size and great weight are the only reasons this did not get 5 stars - it is so big that I clamp it in my portable easel when I'm using it as an exemplar.
For those, like me, who also do illumination as a hobby this book offers a good range of exemplars of very high caliber. Just remember that this represents the best of many times and places, and don't be intimidated by the quality of the work displayed here. Codices Illustres is big enough to be a coffee table book, but is serves much better as a reference in the scriptorium.
YIS,
THL Ragnar Ketilsson
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Masterpieces of Illumination: The World's Most Beautiful Illuminated Manuscripts from 400 to 1600" is essentially a reprint of "Codices illustres: The World's Most Famous Illuminated Manuscripts 400 to 1600." The former is one of many 25th anniversary Taschen editions, and bears the series logo on its dust-jacket and bright green cover (rather than the classier illumination of the Limburg Brother's Anatomical Man that adorns the cover of the latter). "Masterpieces" is also slightly smaller (9 ¾" x 12 ½") than the original (10 ¼" x 13 ¼"). There are a few other slight differences between the two editions: different endpapers; white paper for the appendix in "Masterpieces," ivory in "Codices"; and slightly darker illustrations in Masterpieces (only noticeable if you actually compare the editions side by side). Otherwise the two editions are virtually identical.
This is a truly wonderful book. It contains discussions and representative illuminations from 167 of the most famous and influential extant codices, books of hours, psalters, Bibles and histories from Europe and Asia (23 or the 167 are from Persia, turkey and India) during the 1200 years in which manuscript illumination flourished as an art form (and at the end of the text proper are samples from yet another 29 manuscripts). The full-color and often full-page illustrations are beautifully and accurately rendered, and the accompanying descriptions are both authoritative and unusually informative. The appendix contains artist biographies, along with a comprehensive bibliography, glossary, and index.
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Format: Hardcover
Illumination has fascinated me since I was a boy. This is the best book I have seen of illuminations. The scope includes books in Greek, Latin, Old Church Slavonic, Persian, and Mayan. The printing is superb. Detailed descriptions tell who did the work, who patronized it, who owned the book, where it is now, and so forth. Great for browsing for enjoyment and as a source of inspiration. I expect this book to be a favorite for many years to come. Anybody who enjoys calligraphy and illumination would be delighted to own this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book deserves a seven stars score, as it is magnificent in every sense: paper, colour palette reproduction, basic and reliable information accompanying every depicted facsimil, and specially because of the scope of the compendium, involving manuscript examples from arabic countries as well as a XIII century mexican manuscript (The Borgia Codex currently held at the Biblioteca Vaticana) This collection shows (as rarely done by supossedly comprehensive treatises) that Mesoamerican, Chinese and Arabic cultures do also possess a very rich medieval heritage, characterised by a colourful tradition in art production. I do recommend this book for anyone interested in Medieval illumination, whatever your particular interest may be. This book is also useful as a comprehensive reference for visiting great libraries and museums all over the world, where some of these manuscripts are exhibited. Do not forget to visit the Condé Museum, the Marmottan-Monet Museum and Trinity College Library, just to mention a few.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This an excellent wide ranging introduction to Manuscript Illumination and is an excellent early purchase for those interested in the area
It covers about 1200 years from around 400 AD to 1600
The choice is excellent and the text and illustration are excellent. the colour reproductions are superb. It is excellent value for money
167 of the most important Manuscripts -. are shown in chronological order, usually as a two page spread , but this may be longer. The page set out is excellent both with brief important details about the Manuscript - date/origin/format/ extent/content/ illustration/patron/(current) owner/ provenance/ and if a facsimile exists
This is followed by a discussion of the manuscript and it's illumination and the specific illustrations in the book. The book is large and the illustration are of a good size with plenty of detail- dimensions are given at the top
There a further 20 Manuscripts that are half page spreads
The book starts with a well structured 40 page introduction covering such issues as
Terms for describing a manuscript page with a nicely annotated example
Other topics include
Book materials and book covers, In the Workshop,
Types of Book- contents
Bibles and Bible commentaries, Psalter, Sacramentary and Missal, Breviary and other liturgical texts
Books of Hours etc this is followed by;
Chronological periods and their traits etc All in all a very useful introduction worth going back to from time to time

The hub of the work is the Major Manuscripts- many of these are very famous and it is well worth knowing about the others.
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