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314
ILLUMINATDED Mss.


compounded art of the revival under. Charlemagne, seems to have been widely extended throughout the Frankish empire and to have been common in Lombardy, and to some degree in Spain, as well as in France, and is known as Merovingian and Franco-Lombardic. This kind of ornamentation appears chiefly in the form of initial letters composed of birds, fishes and animals contorted into the shapes of the alphabetical letters; and in a less degree of head-pieces and borders filled with interlacing, or bands, or geometrical patterns, and even details of animal life. In these patterns, barbarous as they usually are, the influence of such artistic objects as mosaics and enamels is evident. The prevailing colours are crude green, red, orange and yellow, which hold their place with persistence through successive generations of MSS. This native style also, in course of time, came under Celtic influence, and adopted into its scheme the interlaced designs of animal forms and other details of the ornament of the north. It is therefore necessary to bear in mind that, side by side with the great series of Carolingian MSS., executed with all possible magnificence, there was existent this native school producing its examples of a more rustic character, which must be taken into account when studying the development of the later national style in France, in the 10th and succeeding centuries.

To turn now to the Celtic style of ornament in MSS. This we find in full development in Ireland as early as the 7th century. cenm The Irish school of book ornamentation was essentially a native school working out its own ideas, created and fostered by the early civilization of the country and destined to have a profound influence on the art of Britain and eventually on that of the continent. It may be described as a mechanical art brought to the highest pitch of perfection by the most skilful and patient elaboration. Initials, borders and full-page designs are made up of interlaced ribbons, interlaced and entangled zoomorphic creatures, intricate knots, spirals, zig-zag ornaments, and delicate interwoven patterns, together with all kinds of designs worked out in red dots-all arranged and combined together with mathematical accuracy and with exquisite precision of touch; and painted in harmonious colours in thick pigments, which lend to the whole design the appearance of enamel. Gold is never used. In the production of his designs the Irish artist evidently took for his models the objects of early metal work in which the Celtic race was so skilled, and probably, too, the classical enamels and mosaics and jewelry which had been imported and copied in the country. The finest example of early Celtic book ornamentation is the famous copy of the Gospels known as the Book of Kelis, of the latter part of the -jth century, preserved in Trinity College, Dublin: a miracle of minute and accurate workmanship, combining in its brilliant pages an endless variety of design.

But, with all his artistic excellence, the Irish artist failed completely in figure drawing; in fact he can hardly be said to have seriously attempted it. When we contemplate, for example, the rude figures intended to represent the evangelists in early copies of the Gospels, their limbs contorted and often composed of extraordinary interlacing and convolutions, we wonder that the sense of beauty which the Irish artist indubitably possessed in'an eminent degree was not shockediby such barbarous productions. The explanation is probably to be found in tradition. These figures in course of time had come to be regarded rather as worked into the general scheme of the ornament in which they occur than representations of. the and were accordingly treated by the artist as details to be

of the pages

human form,

subjects on which to exercise his ingenuity in knotting them into fantastic shapes.

Passing from Ireland, the Celtic style of book ornamentation was naturally practised in the monastic settlements of Scotland, and especially in St Columba's foundation in the fame island of Iona. Thence it spread to other houses in Gospels. Britain. In the year 63 5, at the request of Oswald, king of Northumbria, Aidan, a monk of Iona, was sent to preach Christianity in that kingdom, and became the founder of the abbey and see of Lindisfarne in Holy Isle off the Lindis-

Northumbrian coast. Here was established by the brethren who accompanied the missionary the famous school of Lindisfarne, from which issued a wonderful series of inely written and finely ornamented MSS. in the Celtic style, some of which still survive. The most perfect is the Lindisfame Gospels or St Cuthberfs Gospels or the Durham Bank, as it is more commonly called from the fact of its having rested for some time at Durham after early wanderings. This MS., written in honour of St Cuthbert and completed early in the Sth century, is in the Cottonian collection 'in the British Museum-a beautiful example of writing, and of the Celtic style of ornament, and in perfect condition. The contact with foreign influences, unknown in Ireland, is manifested in this volume by the use of gold, but in very sparing quantity, in some of the details. An interesting point in the artistic treatment of the MS. is the style in which the figures of the four evangelists are portrayed. Here the conventional Irish method, noticed above, is abandoned; the figures are mechanical copies from Byzantine models. The artist was unskilled in such drawing and has indicated the folds of the draperies, not by shading, but by streaks of paint of contrasting colours. Explanations of such instances of the unexpected adoption of a foreign style are rarely forthcoming; but in. this case there is one. The sections of the text have been identified as following the Neapolitan use. The Greek Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, arrived in Britain in the year 688 and was accompanied by Adrian, abbot of a monastery in the island of Nisita near Naples; and they both visited Lindisfarne. There can therefore be little doubt that the Neapolitan MS. from which the text of the Durham Book was derived, was one which Abbot Adrian had brought with him; and it may also be assumed that his MS. also contained paintings of the evangelists in the Byzantine style, which served as models to the Northumbrian artist.

The Celtic style was thus established through the north of England, and thence it spread to the southern parts of the country. But, for the moment, the account of its Can” further development in Britain must be suspended ”, , g, , m in order to resume the thread of the story of the later classical influence on the illumination of MSS. of the Frankish empire. Under Charlemagne, who became emperor of the West in the year 800, art revived in many branches, and particularly in that of the writing and the illumination of MSS. During the reigns of this monarch and his immediate successors was produced a series of magnificent volumes, mostly biblical and liturgical, made resplendent by a lavish use of gold. The character of the decoration runs still, as of old, in the two lines of illustration and of pure ornament. We find a certain amount of general illustration, usually of the biblical narrative, in pictorial scenes drawn in freehand in the later classical style, and undoubtedly inspired by the western art of Rome. But those illustrations are small in number compared with the numerous examples of pure ornament. Such ornament was employed in the tables of the Eusebian canons, in the accessories of the traditional pictures of the evangelists, in the full-page designs which introduced the opening words of the several books of Bibles or Gospels, in the large initial letters profusely scattered through the volumes, in the infinite variety of borders which, in some MSS., adorned page after page. In all this ornament the debased classical element is prominently in evidence, Columns and arches of variegated marbles, and leaf mouldings and other architectural details are borrowed from the Roman basilicas, to serve as decorations for text and rniniature. The conventional portrait-figures of the evangelists are modelled on the Byzantine pattern, but with differences which appear to indicate an intervening influence, such as would be exercised on the eastern art by its transmission through Italy. Such figures, which indeed become, in course of time, so formal as almost to be decorative details along with their settings, grew stereotyped and passed on monotonously from artist to artist, always subject to deterioration, and were perpetuated especially in MSS. of German origin down to the rrth and 12th centuries.

But it is not the debased classical decoration alone which