Book illumination: The secrets of the Middle Ages in pictures (Part 1)

How do we understand a miniature? Quite simply: by asking it! But why are the perspectives completely unrealistic? And what are all the flowers doing in the books?


Books are our most important contemporary witnesses, sometimes our only contemporary witnesses, since statues, paintings and stories from hearsay are often unfortunately not preserved as they were originally recorded or intended.


But how can we interpret these books? Is our understanding of time and space, content and meaning, size and relevance still the same as it was over 700 years ago? How can we interpret the past if we do not know its context? Why is book illumination so crucial as a stylistic medium of the Middle Ages? And why are most of the tete available of religious origin?

In order to read and understand our history, it is relevant to ask the correct questions. Be it the question of the creator, the recipient or the symbolism contained: in the Middle Ages, every detail of the miniatures had meaning and relevance.

The importance of the book as a bearer of power, whether through the external decorations or detailed gold paintings, was represented in pomp and glory throughout the Middle Ages. But what the depictions want to convey to us, find out here!

⏰⏰ Topics ⏰⏰

0:00​ How do we understand a miniature?

0:21 Intro

0:37 Book painting and its period as a medium

1:02 Understanding of art and definition of miniature

1:58 In medias res: Letting the miniature have an effect on you

2:27 What do we need to ask ourselves? How should we interpret it?

3:12 Important Questions

4:10 The invention of printing and the end of book illumination

4:36 The preservation of art in its original form

4:55 Miniatures as a mirror of their time

5:20 Spectrum

5:40 Outro

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