Click here to skip to content

Decorated Beginning of Jerome's Preface, in a Breton Gospels

Decorated Beginning of Jerome's Preface, in a Breton Gospels

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 825

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 609

Item number: f.2v

Length: 32.5

Width: 23

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

From early days of Christianity in the British Isles and Ireland, links have existed between churches of western British regions, especially Wales and Cornwall, and Brittany. Migrations from Ireland and western Britain to Brittany brought manuscripts to communities of monks and nuns there, where their styles influenced Breton book decoration, and manuscripts travelled the other direction, from Brittany to Wales and Cornwall. Even after Charlemagne's programme of book production and monastic standardisation, Breton manuscripts retained their decorative style. Probably contemporary with the famous classicising manuscript art of the Carolingian court which imitated ancient Greek and Roman painting, the decoration of the large letter in this manuscript appears at first glance to belong to a totally different world. Its ornament is a simplified version of northern European art styles, loathing to paint three-dimensional interlace or a natural-looking animal head. Before we can see a cultural rebellion or nationalistic assertion in it, however, we have to look at the style of handwriting, which is a type developed at Tours in one of the centres of classicising art under Charlemagne and his successors.

Search within this collection

Elsewhere on our websites

Newsletter

Latest events - register free online

Mobile app

For iPhone, iPad and Android

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Email link to a friend

Write a brief note to accompany the email

Your friend's email address: