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Investigating the Book

PLATE FIVE

The description of this plate is given in the front of the book as follows: 

Specimen of Flemish art of the fifteenth century. A page from a Missal, probably executed at Bruges, which had then become the greatest feat of a manufacture of illuminated books. About this time the miniature began to form an almost essential part in all richly illuminated pages. The present specimen represents King David praying; in the background is a very pleasing and neatly executed landscape.  

Bruges, Belgium, was a center for manuscript production when book printing was still in its infancy. It is important that the author says that it was a "manufacture," indicating that the original may be a product of Colard Mansion, a Flemish gentleman who learned to merge printing and manuscript during the later part of the 15th century, next to William Caxton, the man who brought printing to England.

To investigate this page, hover over it and click within the highlighted areas, whichever interests you first, or start scrolling.

To read more about Colard Mansion from Flander's News, click on the button below.

 

INK & ILLUMINATION

Medieval ink was made from organic materials, like gall, ash, cinnabar (for red ink) and other similar organic materials, including the expensive lapis lazuli gem powdered for blue, though it was not the only way to make blue. Inks during the 1850s, and specifically for chromolithography, were developed to dry from oxidation, pressure and evaporation, mixed with wax or lithographic varnish to make it stick to the page and not blur or run. 

Illumination is the decoration of a manuscript or incunabulum in color, potentially also using gold and silver. It is both illustration and ornament for the book, usually depicting the text or creating a pattern, and in the mid 11th-12th centuries emulating stained glass windows. It was always carefully and expertly done, though there are always anomalies and illuminations that are unusual or not pertinent to the text. 

To see how manuscripts and their inks were made from the Getty Museum, click on the button below.

 

PRINTING

These illustrations were printed using chromolithography, or color printing. Copied from the illuminated texts, these were drawn first as borders for all the colored sections to be parsed out most likely onto metal or engraved onto gelatin foil. A color crayon, made specifically for the process, is then used to produce color on the engraving, and from there is rolled with a rolling press to produce it on the paper. 

Humphreys and his chromolithographer were some of the first to employ the method, as it had only just appeared in England around 1839. The book is a prime example both of Humphreys excellent artistry but also the, at this time, fourteen year old process of chromolithography. 

To learn more about this printing process, click on the button below. 

That's all for this book!

Click on the arrow to the left to go back through the book, the one to the right to read the book's biography, the arrow at the bottom to return to the top, or use the navigation bar to find something that interests you. 

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