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A swelling, also known as an oak apple, that forms on the bark of an oak tree after it has been stung by an insect laying its eggs. Tannic and gallic acids contained in gallnuts can be soaked out in water, the gall solution forming the basis of INK. Gall can also be used in tanning processes.



Gauffered pages have tooling (see TOOLED) on their opening edges, usually in the form of an incised design on a gold ground, so that when the book is shut a pattern or device can be seen on the FORE EDGE.


The Germanic peoples originated in the Iron Age. Beginning in the late fourth century, they increasingly settled, or conquered, what had been the western Roman Empire, forming a number of successor states (such as Frankia, ANGLO-SAXON England, Visigothic Spain, and Ostrogothic and Lombardic Italy). Although initially largely illiterate, they brought with them a vigorous art style, characterized by zoomorphic ornament and INTERLACE patterns. They made a major contribution to the development of INSULAR and PRE-CAROLINGIAN art and book production, and fostered regional developments in SCRIPT and language.


In this miniature, the layer of gesso is visible where the gold has flaked off, Arundel MS 68, f. 166v

A thick, water-base paint commonly formed of plaster, CHALK, or gypsum bound together with a glue. Gesso is used in manuscript ILLUMINATION as a GROUND for some GILDING processes, since it forms a raised surface ideal for BURNISHING and tooling (see TOOLED). Methods of gesso preparation varied.


Arundel MS 155, f. 53 Arundel MS 131, f. 15

The application of gold or silver to a surface. Gold could be applied as an INK, in an expensive powdered form, for use in detailed work and in CHRYSOGRAPHY, but it was more frequently applied in medieval ILLUMINATION in the form of gold leaf. The gold leaf could simply be laid down on an area to which a BINDING MEDIUM such as glair or gum (perhaps mixed with honey to prevent it from cracking) had been applied, as was the case during the early Middle Ages; it could also be laid on a raised GROUND of GESSO. In order to enrich the tonality of the gold and to make the areas to which the ground had been applied more visible, a colorant such as bole (a pink earth colour) was often added to the base. Gesso grounds enabled the gilded surface to be TOOLED. However it was applied, the gold could be BURNISHED or left in its slightly duller state. Gilding formed the first stage in the painting processes of illumination, since it was a messy activity, the gilded area often requiring trimming with a KNIFE. The gilding of a manuscript illustration was carried out by the artist or by a specialist.


Stowe MS 956, ff. 1v-2

A small portable book. attached to a girdle or belt. Girdle books were most often BOOKS OF HOURS or PRAYER BOOKS carried for devotional purposes (especially by wealthy women) and frequently had high-quality metalwork BINDINGS. They were particularly popular during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Notebooks and sets of small wax TABLETS were also worn on the belt. See also VADE MECUM.



Burney MS 36, f. 3 Arundel MS 484, f. 6 Arundel MS 481, ff. 42v-43

A word or words commenting on, elucidating, or translating those of the main text. Glosses were often written in the margins or between the lines. See also MISE-EN-PAGE.


Harley MS 5647, f. 3v Egerton MS 609, f. 8

The full text of the Gospels (the four accounts of Christ's life attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, respectively), often accompanied by introductory matter such as the Prefaces of Saint Jerome, Eusebius' CANON TABLES (with or without corresponding marginal numbers in the text indicating Eusebian sections or chapter numbers), and chapter lists (capitula). By the seventh century, what had been a practice of continuous reading from the Gospels during daily Church services (lectio continua), with specific passages prescribed only for major feasts, was replaced by the assignment of a specific passage (pericope) for each day. Gospel lists (capitularies), which listed pericopes by their INCIPITS and EXPLICITS and were arranged to follow the liturgical year, were often included in Gospel books.

CARPET PAGES, INCIPIT PAGES, CHI-RHO pages, EVANGELIST PORTRAITS or SYMBOLS, and other illustrations appeared in Gospel books from the seventh century on. There are a number of sumptuous early medieval Gospel books (many of them connected with important cults and PATRONS), as well as working versions used in the LITURGY and Irish pocket Gospels. From the late eighth century, Gospel books were partially replaced in liturgical use by EVANGELARIES, containing the Gospel readings for the year.



Egerton MS 3277, f. 37v Harley MS 616, f. 1

A term coined by the art critic Giorgio Vasari in the sixteenth century to describe what he considered to be the barbaric art of the West, that is, the art produced between ANTIQUITY and the RENAISSANCE. It is now used to describe a period of Western art that began in the late twelfth century and ended sometime between c. 1300 and the early sixteenth century, depending on the region in question and the rapidity of its response to the Renaissance. There were chronological and regional stylistic differences during this period, but the underlying, international characteristics of Gothic art included: a love of the courtly and of the GROTESQUE, which might coexist; an interest in an essentially NATURALISTIC depletion of the figure (although a penchant for courtly elegance, along with MANNERED or EXPRESSIONISTIC styles could intrude); and a decorative approach to INITIALS, frames, and backgrounds, with greater use of GILDING (during the later Middle Ages, this tendency gave way to a growing interest in landscape and perspective). In the Gothic period, the range of books produced became increasingly diversified (varying from biblical volumes and BOOKS OF HOURS to SCHOOL BOOKS, ROMANCES, and almanacs). Moreover, SECULAR PRODUCTION and consumption increased, with cities emerging alongside and then surpassing monasteries as important production centres.


Arundel MS 71, f. 9 Lansdowne MS 462, f. 62

A gradual is the response and versicle to the Epistle reading that constitutes one part of the MASS. The name derives from the practice of singing the gradual on the steps of the raised pulpit. More commonly, however, the term refers to the principal CHOIR BOOK used in the mass. Arranged according to the liturgical year (with TEMPORALE, SANCTORALE, and Common of Saints), a gradual contains (in addition to the graduals themselves) introits, tracts, alleluias, offertories, and communions. The introits - the first sung elements of the mass - were often introduced by HISTORIATED INITIALS (Ad te levavi, the introit for the first Sunday in Advent, being the most elaborate). For low mass, the contents of the gradual were included in the MISSAL and performed by the celebrant rather than the choir.


Burney MS 257, f. 4v

Monochrome painting, generally employing shades of grey (the term derives from gris, the French word for 'grey'), executed in a black PIGMENT (such as a carbon-based lampblack) and an inert white pigment. Grisaille first appeared in the late thirteenth century but was especially popular from the second half of the fourteenth through the fifteenth century. Semi-grisaille, with landscape and flesh areas executed in colour, characterized ILLUMINATION at the court of King Charles V of France (r. 1364-80). Camaïeu is a related technique that employs colours other than grey, such as Camaïeu d'or, using gold, to create a monochrome painting or decorative component.


Cotton Claudius MS E. V, f. 54 Lansdowne MS 451, f. 9 Burney MS 275, f. 336

A hybrid and comic figure, often combining elements from various human and animal forms. Grotesques often bear no obvious relationship to the texts they embellish, although they can carry a commonly understood meaning derived, for example, from BESTIARY-related texts. They were popular in GOTHIC art from the thirteenth century on, especially as MARGINALIA. See also DROLLERY.


The writing or painting surface, which may already have been covered with a layer of paint, or the base for metallic PIGMENT such as GESSO or gum. See also BINDING MEDIUM and GILDING.


A protective support at the sewing edge of a manuscript. During the Middle Ages, PARCHMENT guards were sometimes folded around the spinal edge of a QUIRE or BIFOLIUM to strengthen it, especially in early PAPER manuscripts. In the process of modern rebinding, leaves are often mounted on guards to protect them and to reveal the maximum amount of codicological information.


On this page, a small guide letter N is visible in the margin beside the initial, Stowe MS 35, f. 48v

A letter written (often by the SCRIBE) to tell the ILLUMINATOR which INITIAL or LITTERA NOTABILIOR to supply. Indications concerning which colour was to be used (colour notes) and fuller notes relating to the subject matter of an image might also be given, often in HARD POINT or METAL POINT to render them less obtrusive.


Harley MS 603, ff. 2v-3

The place where BIFOLIA of writing material are folded and meet the SPINE inside a CODEX.


An INITIAL composed of lively, acrobatic human and/or animal figures. Gymnastic initials are particularly characteristic of ROMANESQUE illumination. Gymnastic decoration can occur in other contexts as well.

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