Item description for A History of Illuminated Manuscripts by Christopher De Hamel...
Medieval manuscripts are among Western civilization's greatest glories. Laboriously written by hand and often sumptuously decorated, they have always been highly valued and remain as brilliant, fascinating and popular as ever. Christopher de Hamel vividly describes the circumstances in which such books were created, from the earliest monastic Gospel Books to the most lavish Books of Hours. For the second edition of this book the text has been revised and updated, and the whole volume completely redesigned with a wealth of new colour illustrations.
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Studio: Phaidon Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 11.5" Width: 9.9" Height: 1.1" Weight: 3.7 lbs.
Release Date Sep 26, 1997
Publisher Phaidon Press
ISBN 0714834521 ISBN13 9780714834528
Availability 0 units.
More About Christopher De Hamel
Christopher de Hamel is the Head of the Department of Manuscripts at Sotheby's London and author of Scribes and Illuminators (Medieval Craftsmen Series).
Reviews - What do customers think about A History of Illuminated Manuscripts?
The Best Available History of Illuminated Manuscripts Jan 23, 2008
Christopher De Hamel's "A History of Illuminated Manuscripts" (now in its second edition) is certainly the definitive history for lay readers, but it is probably the best starting place for aspiring professionals as well. It is well-written, faultlessly researched, and copiously illustrated. I happily use it in my university course on illuminated manuscripts together with Ingo Walther's "Masterpieces of Illumination" (published by Taschen)--in my opinion, the perfect companion piece.
The second edition of De Hamel's book is structured as was the first: an informative introduction is followed by chapters which divide and discuss the manuscripts according to their intended users (missionaries, emperors, monks, students, aristocrats, everybody, priests, and collectors); an extended bibliography precedes several useful indexes. This Phaidon paperback edition is a beautiful book, with a white paper cover adorned with a full-color dust-jacket. Many new illustrations have been added, and there are many more color illustrations than there were in the first edition. More importantly, the text has been updated to reflect ongoing research in the field.
My only complaint about this edition is that many of the important full-color and full-page illustrations in the first edition (to which I often referred in my classes) have either been reduced in size or eliminated entirely in the new edition. There are also significant (and inexplicable) differences in the color reproduction of illuminations between the first (David R. Godine, Publisher) edition and this second (Phaidon Press) edition--sometimes the differences are so radical that only a close inspection (or a familiarity with the actual documents) reveals they are photographs of the same manuscript. And since many of these manuscripts are from private collections (to which Mr. De Hamel apparently gained access by reputation or through associations established during his tenure at Sotheby's), it would be impossible for most readers to know which of the differing reproductions are the more accurate. My own experience would suggest that not all the changes in the new Phaidon edition are indeed improvements.
Publishing faults aside, this is a fine book by a scholar with impeccable credentials and a gift for clarity and sensibility in his writing. I highly recommend it.
A History of Illuminated Manuscripts Nov 13, 2007
The title explains exactly what is in the book. It is very infomative and has tons of color illustrations of illuminated manuscripts.
Very Impressed Aug 2, 2007
I am thoroughly impressed with this book. Its scholarship is impressive and helpful in my preparations to study medieval history at Oxford. And the thoughtfully written bibliography and through indexing of the manuscripts illustrated assist further studies. Even though it's not on my official reading list and is certainly not a light nor compact book, I'm packing it and taking it with me.
But, as scholarly as this work is, if one simply wants an attractive coffee table book on the subject, this can certainly be one. If one wants a very readable, engagingly written, well illustrated introduction to illuminated manuscripts, this is for you as well.
There is even some helpful guidance on collecting the more available manuscripts such as Books of Hours. And as the Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and with his 25 years experience in evaluating manuscripts for Sotheby's, Dr. De Hamel's knowledge is not just theoretical.
Yet the price is extremely reasonable for a book of this quality.
A Joyous Entry for Anyone's Library Apr 20, 2007
Simply a treasure in print, Christopher De Hamel's work on medieval manuscripts is an enjoyable and fact-filled romp through the Middle Ages as if no "darkness" in the period ever existed. Focusing on a descriptive narrative that is as delightful as it is informative, the text leads the reader from one interesting setting to another, belying the breadth and scope of its coverage. One meets the educational reformers in Charlemagne's court, the scribes of the cathedral schools of Laon and Chartres, the workers in English scriptoriums, and many others in this highly researched, but clearly and engagingly written book. The reader feels as if he is simply touring the European countryside from one location to another and watching the patient and unrelenting work of scribes, copyists, and illustrators as they seek to develop the most enduring artifact of the period. Underpinning the entire work is a series - no, a PLETHORA - of beautifully reproduced and highly detailed medieval manuscript reproductions, many of them full-page, to the extent that one finds himself questioning why the text doesn't cost three times the price. A rarity in that it contains both outstanding prose as well as stunningly reproduced photographs, this text should be in every medievalist's (and art lover's) own scriptorium.
Fabulous book and indispensable resource! Apr 26, 2006
I loved this book! I used it for a graduate course on Illuminated Manuscripts, and it was one of the main textbooks we used, but I used it often after the course as well. I really enjoyed reading it, and found that it was unlike most of the typical text books I had formerly used. For any art history student, it is an outstanding resource. For anyone who loves illuminated manuscripts, book arts, or the Medieval period in general, this is a wonderful resource. It is a book that I consider an indispensable resource in my personal library. It is very well written and easily accessible for anyone. Although some of the terminology may be unfamiliar, it isn't so esoteric that it is beyond the scope of general understanding. It is clearly one of the best resources on the subject that I have ever come across!