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The Medieval Illuminated Manuscript: Praising God with Exquisite Beauty

Evening Program

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1H0400
Christ Enthroned in the Book of Kells, ca. 800 (Trinity College Library, Dublin)

The Book of Kells, the Lindisfarne Gospels, and other sumptuous illuminated books created in Ireland and northern Britain between the 7th and 9th centuries are as astonishing for their beauty as their imaginative details of interlaced patterns and peculiar beasts rendered in saturated colors. Those who saw them felt a profound mystery in their artistry. But what do these strange and often humorous decorations have to do with the sacred Gospel text and Christian belief? 

During the era of these books’ creation, Christian monastic communities and  proliferating trade networks throughout Christendom united Britain and Ireland with continental Europe, allowing for the exchange of liturgical objects as well as the philosophies that provided a foundation for manuscript illumination. Laura McCloskey, an instructor in art history at George Mason University, looks at the ways in which monk-artists brought sacred scripture to life and transformed the Mediterranean classical traditions that were the basis of early Christian art.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)