Manuscripts and Printed Books

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      The earliest illuminated manuscripts were painted in monasteries as early as the seventh century (Lindisfarne Gospels). These were religious books, Gospels, Psalters, liturgical books, but in the eleventh century a "book culture" emerged in Europe, and books were produced for wealthy patrons.
     Initial letters of books and sections within books were decorated with fanciful drawings and painted, "illuminated" for the esthetic appreciation of those who owned them. "Miniatures," small paintings that illustrated the contents of the book were also included.
     Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with replaceable wooden or metal letters in 1436. Books printed before the beginning of the sixteenth century are usually called "Incunabula." I will use the term to refer to old printed books of whatever age which were designed to imitate the illuminated manuscript.

 Illuminated Manuscripts  Miniatures  Printed Books