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Drawing to guide layout or to establish a design, drawn on the back of the leaf to be painted and traced by the painter with the aid of BACKLIGHTING.


A technique used in tracing a drawing from one side of a leaf to the other by placing a strong light source on the other side of the leaf being illuminated and a weaker light source behind the artist (used in the Lindisfarne GOSPELS in the early eighth century and described as a technique by a fifteenth-century artist Cennino Cennini in his handbook 'Il libro del'Arte'). See also BACKDRAWING.



Arundel MS 48, f. 168v Yates Thompson MS 8, f. 267v Additional MS 19587, f. 52v

Bas-de-page (literally, 'bottom of the page') scenes are usually unframed images that may or may not refer to the text or image above. They are found in GOTHIC illumination from the thirteenth century on.


Additional MS 49598, f. 91 Additional MS 45958, f. 106v

A SERVICE BOOK consisting of a collection of episcopal blessings, delivered during the MASS after the Pater noster and arranged according to the liturgical year. Some lavishly illuminated examples were produced in ANGLO-SAXON England for individual bishops such as Saint Ethelwold of Winchester.


Harley MS 3244, f. 39v Harley MS 4751, f. 10 Yates Thompson MS 19, f. 48

The Bestiarius, De Bestiis, or Book of Beasts consists of descriptions and tales of animals, birds, fantastic creatures, and stones, real and imaginary, which are imbued with Christian symbolism or moral lessons. The rising of the phoenix from the pyre, for example, is related to Christ's Resurrection.

The bestiary, in all its varied manifestations, enjoyed great popularity during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, especially in England. Among the most beloved of picture books, a favourite of the literate laity, it functioned as a LIBRARY and SCHOOL BOOK and as homiletic source material. The text was frequently illustrated, in styles catering to a variety of purses, and motifs drawn from it are widely encountered in other decorative contexts, including BAS-DE-PAGE scenes, HERALDRY, and encyclopaedic world maps (see MAPPA MUNDI ).

The core of the text originated in the writings of authors such as Herodotus, Aristotle, and Pliny the Elder, and in a Greek text known as the Physiologus (The Natural Philosopher), which is thought to have been compiled in Alexandria around the second century by a Christian ascetic. In the Physiologus, discussions of the characteristics of almost fifty creatures, plants, and stones, along with the etymologies of their names, were distilled from classical mythology and the Christian tradition.

The Physiologus was influential for a thousand years, being translated into Arabic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Syriac, and other VERNACULAR languages; the later medieval bestiaries descended primarily from a variable Latin translation that was available from at least the fifth century. Several more beasts and additional material were conflated with the Latin Physiologus from the Etymologies of the seventh-century Spanish bishop Isidore of Seville and other selected sources. From this expanded text, Philippe de Thaon produced a rhyming version in Anglo-Norman (c. 1125), dedicated to Aelis (or Adela) de Louvain, second wife of Henry I of England; this version gave rise to the popular medieval Bestiaire. Other medieval versions include that of Gervaise, written in French (perhaps in Normandy) in the thirteenth century; that of Guillaume le Clerc (the most popular version), written in the early thirteenth century in French by a Norman priest working in England; and two versions ascribed to Pierre de Beauvais, 'le Picard', composed in the dialect of Picardy, also in the early thirteenth century. The Latin bestiary still flourished alongside its French counterparts and was often produced in luxurious illustrated copies in England during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. These are grouped into two important families on the basis of variations in their texts and programs of ILLUMINATION.



Harley MS 2840, f. 174v Arundel MS 104, vol. I, f. 342v

A number of Latin versions of books of the Bible, translated from Greek and Hebrew, were used in the EARLY CHRISTIAN Church; these are known as Old Latin versions. To establish a measure of uniformity among these various translations, Saint Jerome, encouraged by Pope Damasus I, undertook a new translation of the whole Bible, working from the Greek and the Hebrew for the Old Testament. The translation he produced, begun about 382 and completed in 404 is known as the Vulgate. The work went through several stages, including three versions of the Psalms (Roman, Gallican, and Hebrew). Throughout the Middle Ages it was common for books of the Bible to be contained in separate volumes (such as the PENTATEUCH, HEXATEUCH, OCTATEUCH, or the Gospels). For liturgical purposes, scriptural texts (or readings from them) were often incorporated into SERVICE BOOKS (such as EVANGELARIES, EPISTOLARIES, and PSALTERS).

Beginning in the fourth century, when Christianity gradually became the official religion of the Roman Empire, luxurious CODICES were produced, among them the Codex Sinaiticus and the Cotton Genesis. During the early Middle Ages, corruptions of the Vulgate and intrusions from Old Latin versions led several scholars to attempt to standardize the biblical texts; Cassiodorus in the sixth century and, in the CAROLINGIAN period, Alcuin of York, Theodulf of Orléans, and Hartmut of St. Gall are the best known of these. As a result of their endeavours, a group of large, luxuriously written and illuminated editions of the complete Bible were produced. Cassiodorus' nine-volume edition influenced Bible manuscripts in ANGLO-SAXON England, such as the Codex Amiatinus, and in the ninth century Alcuin's SCRIPTORIUM at Tours went on to produce a whole series of Bibles for circulation. During the ROMANESQUE period, many of the Bibles produced were large in format. In the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a practice arose, stimulated by the universities, of producing small-format Bibles (or parts thereof) with condensed SCRIPT and HISTORIATED INITIALS, often accompanied by GLOSSES. Many of these were made quite cheaply.

Scriptural texts were translated into the VERNACULAR as early as the eighth century (in Anglo-Saxon England), generally as glosses, but many of the major developments in vernacular translation took place from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, beginning with John Wycliffe, who made the first complete translation of the Bible into English; the German translation made by Martin Luther in the 1520s is still in use today.


Royal MS 19 D III, f. 256v Egerton MS 856, f. 235

The biblical narrative in prose form, written by Guyart des Moulins and based on his translation into French (1291-94) of the Historia scholastica of Peter Comestor, interspersed with a French translation of the BIBLE produced in Paris around 1250. The illustrations accompanying the Bible historiale (usually in the form of COLUMN PICTURES) depict many scenes not normally found in the standard repertory of biblical images and also include representations of the compilation and translation of the text.


Additional MS 18719, f. 228 Harley MS 1527, ff. 55v-56

The most important type of medieval picture BIBLE, also known as the Bible historiée, Bible allégorisée, or Emblèmes bibliques. Composed during the thirteenth century, it consists of short biblical passages and related COMMENTARIES with moral or allegorical lessons. These latter usually emphasized the connections between Old and New Testament events (see TYPOLOGY). The texts were accompanied by extensive illustrations. The most sumptuous extant Bible moralisée contains about five thousand images, in medallion form and is arranged in columns. Other sorts of picture Bibles also existed (see BIBLIA PAUPERUM).


Kings MS 5, f. 10

Literally, the 'BIBLE of the Poor', it consisted of a series of captioned MINIATURES illustrating the parallels between the Old and New Testaments (see TYPOLOGY). Scenes from the life of Christ are accompanied by Old Testament scenes and figures of the prophets. Although few have survived, such books are known to have been very popular during the later Middle Ages, especially as a tool for religious instruction among poorer clergy and those members of LAY society who, although often quite wealthy, were not especially learned. The BIBLE MORALISÉE is another type of picture book based on the Bible.


A sheet of writing support material (generally PARCHMENT during the Middle Ages) folded in half to produce two leaves (i.e., four pages). A number of bifolia folded together form a QUIRE.


A person wholly or partly responsible for sewing a CODEX together and supplying it with covers. Although there is evidence that SCRIBES occasionally undertook the preliminary 'tacket' sewing of their own sections of manuscripts, the binder was often another member of the SCRIPTORIUM. Following the rise of universities in the late twelfth century, BINDING became the preserve of the STATIONER. The term binder can also be used of a BINDING MEDIUM.


Egerton MS 2388, upper cover Burney MS 312, upper cover

The sewing and covering of a book. When the leaves of a CODEX had been written and illuminated, they were assembled into gatherings (QUIRES) and sewn together. Generally they were sewn onto supports (CORDS), although there also existed an unsupported form of sewing in which only the thread served to bind the quires together (COPTIC SEWING). The loose ends of the cords were then attached to BOARDS, normally of wood (see CHANNELING and PEGGING), which were then covered, usually with damp leather. The covering could be decorated in a number of ways (see APPLIED COVERS, BLOCKED, CHEMISE BINDING, CUT LEATHER, PANELS, TANNED, and TOOLED). CLASPS or STRAP AND PIN mechanisms would then be attached to hold the book in shape, and BOSSES might be added to protect the binding. Binding was generally undertaken in the SCRIPTORIUM or by STATIONERS. See also BINDER, CHAINED BOOK, ENDBANDS, GAUFFERED, KETTLE STITCH, LIMP BINDING, PASTEDOWN, SEWING ON SUPPORTS, SEWING STATIONS, STAPLE, and TITLE PIECE.


An ingredient in paint or INK that binds the PIGMENT and makes it adhere to the surface to be embellished. Clarified egg white (glair, clarea) was the principal binding medium used in manuscript ILLUMINATION. Gum (such as gum arabic from the acacia), glue (such as ichthyocollon, a fish glue, and casein, a dairy-product glue) or other forms of size (PARCHMENT size or gelatine) were also used for this purpose as well as for GILDING.



A technique of decorating BINDINGS in which a design or picture is stamped into the leather cover by a block, into which the image has been carved or incised. Large woodblocks were sometimes employed for this purpose in the Netherlands during the sixteenth century. Metal blocks were first used in Flanders, allegedly by a canon of Antwerp, Wouter van Duffle, in the early thirteenth century. See also PANELS and TOOLED.


The stiff covers at the front and back of a book. Wood was the material generally used until the early sixteenth century, preferably oak or another hardwood to minimize worming. These covers could be very thick and often had bevelled edges. Pasteboard became popular in the sixteenth century; from the late seventeenth century on, it was supplemented by rope-fibre millboards. Strawboard first came into use in the eighteenth century. The boards were attached to the QUIRES by the CORDS, which were threaded through the boards and secured (often by means of PEGGING). The boards and SPINE were then usually covered with damp leather (although PARCHMENT, fabric, or PAPER might also be used), which was folded over the edges of the boards (forming what are known as TURN-INS) and glued down. PASTEDOWNS could then be applied to conceal this mechanism.


A variety of devices for marking key openings in a book have survived, most of them dating from the twelfth century on. Tabs or knotted strips of PARCHMENT, sometimes coloured, were attached to the FORE EDGE of the book at appropriate points; ribbons of linen, silk, or parchment could be attached to the headband (see ENDBANDS) and descend vertically into the book. Some bookmarkers even carry a device used in conjunction with the text to be marked, such as a VOLVELLE to assist in relevant chronological or astronomical calculations. Flowers and other pressed organic materials were also used as bookmarkers.


Yates Thompson MS 45, f. 33 Stowe MS 26, ff. 22v-23 Stowe MS 29, f. 14

A book, also called a primer or horae, for use in private devotions. Its central text, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin (or Hours of the Virgin), is modelled on the DIVINE OFFICE and represents a shorter version of the devotions performed at the eight canonical hours. The text, known from the tenth century, was originally read only by ecclesiastics; it entered into more popular use by the end of the twelfth century, often being attached to the PSALTER, the book more commonly used for private devotions before the emergence of the book of hours. The private recitation of the Little Office of the Virgin is an expression of the LAY person's desire to imitate the prayer-life of the religious.

The Little Office of the Virgin gradually acquired other elements: a liturgical CALENDAR, a LITANY OF THE SAINTS, SUFFRAGES, the Office of the Dead (which had emerged by the ninth century), the Penitential Psalms (Psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142, which were first included in books of hours in the thirteenth century), the Gradual Psalms (Psalms 119-133), and prayers. Additional offices, such as the Short Office of the Cross, Hours of the Holy Spirit, Hours of the Trinity, and Hours of the Passion, could also form part of a book of hours. The book of hours took its standard form in the thirteenth century and continued in general use until the sixteenth century, enjoying particular popularity in France and Flanders. The texts of books of hours vary slightly in accordance with USE.

Books of hours were medieval best-sellers and have survived in relatively high quantity. They are nearly always illuminated, in a manner commensurate with the PATRON'S budget, and often contain a MINIATURE or set of miniatures for each major textual division. These subjects include scenes from the life of the Virgin, Christ, and King David, depictions of the saints and themes relating to death and judgment. The patron was also sometimes portrayed. Decorated letters as well as images can be found in books of hours.



Arundel MS 109, f. 74v Stowe MS 19, ff. 15v-16 Harley MS 2969, f. 38

Decorative surrounds, or borders, were popular in GOTHIC and RENAISSANCE illumination and evolved during the thirteenth century from the extenders that sprang from decorated letters. A border surrounds text and/or image and may occupy margins and intercolumnar space. Some borders are in panelled form, others are composed of foliate decoration or bars, the latter often sprouting plant forms and known as foliate bar borders. A full border surrounds an image or text on all sides, while a partial border frames only part of the area in question. Like an INITIAL, a border can be INHABITED or HISTORIATED. During the fifteenth century, a form of border became popular (initially within the works of the Ghent-Bruges School and subsequently in French and Italian illumination) in which naturalistically rendered flora and fauna were placed, as if strewn, on a ground (often gilded). These are termed SCATTER, STREW, or TROMPE L'OEIL borders. Another popular form of border during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was the spray border, consisting of fine foliate tendrils with small gilded leaves. HUMANISTIC manuscripts often feature WHITE VINE-STEM borders.


Additional MS 15456

A protruding ornament, usually of metal. When applied to a binding it serves a protective function. Metalwork plaques are known to have adorned bindings from the EARLY CHRISTIAN period on, but prominent raised bosses appear to have become popular during the fifteenth century.


Harley MS 273, f. 23v

The marginal lines supplied during RULING to guide the justification of the text and its ancillaries (such as INITIALS).


Arundel MS 130, f. 1 Yates Thompson MS 8, f. 53

A SERVICE BOOK containing the texts necessary for the celebration of the DIVINE OFFICE. A breviary is often adorned with DECORATED or HISTORIATED INITIALS, and more luxurious copies may contain MINIATURES depicting biblical scenes or the performance of the office.

From the eleventh century on, the various volumes used during the Divine Office (PSALTER, ANTIPHONAL, LECTIONARY, COLLECTAR, MARTYROLOGY, and others) were combined to form the breviary, which was initially only used by monks, but was popularized (in slightly abridged form) by the Dominicans and Franciscans in the thirteenth century. The breviary's contents were divided into TEMPORALE, SANCTORALE, and Common of Saints. All members of monastic orders and the clergy in major orders are committed to the daily recitation of the breviary. The contents vary in detail in accordance with the rite of the religious order or the USE of the geographic area.


Brushes of animal hair set within wooden handles were used in medieval ILLUMINATION, replacing the frayed reed brushes of ANTIQUITY. The quill PEN could be used to apply certain paints as well as INKS.


Burney MS 169, f. 11

Used of a courtly style of art that flourished under the patronage of the Dukes of Burgundy, primarily in Flanders, from the late fourteenth to the mid-sixteenth century.

Burgundy had been established as a GERMANIC kingdom during the fifth century, its art being Germanic in character until the kingdom was absorbed into the CAROLINGIAN Empire. However, it is to a later phase in the history of the region that the term is generally applied in a cultural context.

In 1384 the Duchy of Burgundy and the county of Franche-Comté were united as a consequence of the marriage (1369) of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and Margaret of Flanders (heiress to Franche-Comté). The union initiated a century of Burgundian greatness. Strategically placed as it was between France and Germany, Burgundy became the major Northern European political and economic power. The arts flowered under the patron age of Dukes Philip the Good (r. 1419-67) and Charles the Bold (r. 1467-77), who sought to create a dynastic culture. This period of creativity in the arts continued after the duchy's absorption into the Holy Roman Empire in 1477; indeed, it lasted well into the sixteenth century in the work of artists such as Simon Bening.

Books played a key role in Burgundian culture, with many illuminated CHRONICLES, ROMANCES, and devotional works being commissioned in Flanders, the centre of Burgundian power. Burgundian patronage brought Flemish ILLUMINATION and SCRIPT (lettre bourguignonne or bâtarde) to international prominence with a luxurious, highly polished style. This style was influenced by the observation of court life and by contemporary Flemish panel painting, particularly the latter's rendering of space and use of opulent colours. David Aubert was an important SCRIBE within this milieu, and the many prominent illuminators included the MASTER of Mary of Burgundy, Simon Marmion, and Gerard Horenbout.


Arundel MS 108, f. 146v Harley MS 4664, f. 125v

Enhancing the smoothness and shininess of a surface such as metallic PIGMENT by polishing with a burnisher - a smooth, hard stone (such as agate), metal, or bone set into a handle. See also GILDING.


Burney MS 20, f. 226v Burney MS 21, f. 9

The Byzantine Empire is named for the ancient city of Byzantium, where Constantine the Great founded a new city, Constantinople, as the eastern capital of the Roman Empire in 330. Culturally the Byzantine Empire fused Greek, Roman, and Christian elements, though its language was Greek. The eastern Empire withstood the barbarian onslaught of the fifth century, but from the seventh century on suffered frequent invasions by Islamic forces.

The culture of Byzantium influenced the entire Greek world, including parts of Asia Minor as well as the regions of Italy with which it was politically and/or commercially engaged: Ravenna, the Veneto, southern Italy, and Sicily, where medieval art exhibited substantial Byzantine influence. Byzantine culture also spread northward when the Slavs, Russians, and other Central European groups converted to Christianity. The period of the Iconoclastic Controversy (726-843), during which many political and ecclesiastical leaders of the Byzantine Empire opposed the use of religious images, curbed the spread of Byzantine culture to the West. The schism that formed between the eastern and western Churches was most intense in the ninth and eleventh centuries.

There were, nevertheless, important phases of Byzantine influence on the West, notably during the OTTONIAN and parts of the ROMANESQUE periods. The Crusades of the eleventh to the thirteenth century, when Western European forces sought to recapture Jerusalem from the Islamic conquerors, again made Byzantine culture more accessible to the West, especially during the years of the Latin control of Byzantium (1204-61), following the Fourth Crusade. The TRANSITIONAL STYLE in Western art, from the late twelfth to the early thirteenth century, is a product of this cultural interchange.

The Byzantine Empire itself enjoyed something of a golden age from 850 to 1050, especially under the Macedonian emperors, accompanied by a flowering of the arts. During the fourteenth century, the Palaeologan dynasty (1258-1453) supported culture and monasticism. In 1453, however, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, and the Byzantine Empire came to an end.

Byzantine manuscript ILLUMINATION is characterized by an iconic approach (see ICON), a relatively fixed ICONOGRAPHY of biblical scenes, the use of flat gold backgrounds, but a generally NATURALISTIC rendering of figures. At certain periods, however, Byzantine illumination shows a tendency toward a MANNERED, EXPRESSIONISTIC style. See also CHRYSOGRAPHY, COMPLEMENTARY SHADING and PURPLE PAGES.

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