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317
ILLUMINATED MSS.


the Celtic school of the British Isles, was an art almost exclusively of pure ornament, of intricate interlacing of arabesques and animal forms, with bright colouring and ample use of gold. The Lombardic style was employed in certain centres, as, for example, at Monte Cassino, where in the rrth, 12th and 13th centuries brilliant examples were produced. But it was not destined to stand before the other, stronger and inherently more artistic, style which was to become national. Still, its scheme of brighter colouring and of general ornament seems to have had an effect upon later productions, if we are not mistaken in recognizing something of its influence in such designs as the interlaced white vine-branch borders which are so conspicuous in Italian MSS. of the period of the Renaissance.

The progress of Italian illumination in the style influenced by the Byzantine element is of particular interest in the general history of art, ' on account of the rapidity with which urn . . . . Century it grew to maturity, and the splendour to wh1ch 1t 15th century. Of the earlier centuries attained in the the existing examples are not many. That Italian artists were capable of great things as far back asthe I2lh century is evident may notice the curious occurrence of from their frescoes. We two very masterly paintings, the death of the Virgin and the Virgin enthroned, drawn with remarkable breadth in the Italian style, in the Wznchcster Psalter (Cottonian MS. Nero C. iv.) of the middle of that century, as a token of the possibilities of Italian illumination at that date; but generally there is little to show. Even at the beginning of the 14th century most of the specimens are of an ordinary character and betray a want of skill in striking contrast with the highly artistic productions of the Northern schools of England and France at the same period. But, though inferior artistically, Italian book ornamentation had by this time been so far influenced by the methods of those schools as to fall into line with them in the general system of decoration. The miniature, the initial, the miniature initial and the border-all have their place and are subject to the same laws of development as in the other schools. But, once started, Italian illumination in the 14th century, especially in Florence, expanded with extraordinary energy. We may cite the Royal MS. 6, E. ix., containing an address to Robert of Anjou, king of Sicily, 1334-1342, and the Add. MS. 27,428 of legends of the saints, of about the year 1370, as instances of very line miniature-work of the Florentine type. As the century advances, Italian illumination becomes more prolific and is extended to all classes of MSS., the large volumes of the Decretals and other law books, and still more the great folio choral books, in particular affording ample space for the artist to exercise his fancy. As was natural from the contiguity of the two countries, as well as from political causes, 'France and Italy influenced each other in the art. In many MSS. of the Florentine school the French influence is very marked, and on the other hand, Italian influence is exercised especially in MSS. of the southern provinces of France. Italian art of this period also in some degree affected the illumination of southern German MSS.

We have also to note the occurrence in Italy in the 14th century of good illustrative outline drawings, generally tinted in light colours' and occasionally we meet with a wonderfully bright style of illumination of a lighter cast of colouring than usually prevails in Italian art: such as may be seen in a MS. of Durandus Dcalivinis ojiriis (Brit. Mus., Add. MS. 3I,032) containing an exquisite series of initials and borders.

Taking a general view of the character of European illumination in.the 14th century. it may be described as an art of great invention and flexibility. The rigid exactness of the 13th century is replaced by flowing lines, just as the stiff, formal strokes of the handwriting of that century was exchanged for a more cursive and easy style. The art of each individual country now developed a national type of its own, which again branched off into the different styles of provincial Schools. For example, in the eastern counties of England a very fine school of illumination, the East Anglian, was established in the first half of the century and produced a series of beautiful MSS., such as the lrundcl Psaller (No. 83) in the British Museum.

By the end of the century the borders had developed on national lines so fully as to become, more than any other detail in the general scheme, the readiest means of identifying the country of origin. First as to the English border: mstmc the favour shown to the introduction of natural growths gzidem among the conventional foliage thrown out from the frame into which the border had by this time expanded has already been noticed. But now a new feature is introduced. The frame up to this time had consisted generally of conventional branches with bosses at the corners. Now it is divided more into compartments within which twining coils of ornament resembling cut feather-work are common details; and feathery scrolls fill the corner-bosses and are attached to other parts of the frame; while the foliage thrown out into the margin takes the form of sprays of curious lobe- or spoon-shaped and lozenge-shaped leaves or flowers, with others resembling curled feathers, and with cup- and trumpet-shaped flowers. This new style of border is contemporaneous with the appearance of a remarkably brilliant style in the miniatures, good in drawing and rich in colouring; and an explanation for the change has been sought in foreign influence. It has been suggested, with some plausibility, that this influence comes from the school of Prague, through the marriage of Richard II. with Anne of Bohemia in 1582. However this may be, there certainly is a decidedly German sentiment in the feathery scrolls just described.

Turning to the French border, we find towards the close of the 14th century that the early ivy-leaf pendant has now invaded all the margins and that the page is set in a conventional frame throwing off on every side sprigs and waving scrolls of the conventional ivy foliage, often also accompanied with very delicate compact tracery of minute flower-work filling the background of the frame. Nothing can be more charming than the effect of such borders, in which the general design is under perfect control. The character, too, of the French miniature of this period harmonizes thoroughly with the brilliant border, composed as it is very largely of decorative elements, such as diapered patterns and details of burnished gold. In the Low Countries, as was natural, the influence of French art continued to have great weight, at least in the western provinces where the style of illumination followed the French lead.

The Italian border in its ordinary form was of independent character, although following the methods of the West. Thrown out from the initial, it first took the form of pendants of a peculiarly heavy conventional curling foliage, associated, as progress was made, with slender rods jointed at intervals with bud-like ornaments and extending along the margins; at length expanding into a frame. The employment of gilt spots or pellets to fill spaces in the pendants and borders becomes very marked as the century advances. They are at first in a simple form, but they gradually throw out rays, and in the latter shape they become the chief constituents of one kind of border of the 15th century.

Illumination in the r 5th century enters on a new phase. The balance is no longer evenly maintained between the relative values of the miniature and the border as factors in the general scheme of decoration. The influence 15", of a new sentiment in art makes itself felt more and more; the flat treatment of the miniature gradually gives place to true laws of perspective and of figure-drawing, and to the depth and atmospheric effects of modern painting. Miniature painting in the decoration of MSS. now became more of a trade; what in old times had been done in the cloister was now done in the shop; and the professional miniaturist, , working for his own fame, took the place of the nameless monk who worked for the credit of his house. Henceforth the miniature occupies a more important place than ever in the illuminated MS.; while the border, with certain important exceptions, is apt to recede into an inferior position and to become rather an ornamental adjunct to set off the miniature than a work of art claiming equality with it.

Continuing the survey of the several national styles, we shall have to witness the final super session of the older styles of

Century.