German Manuscript Illumination in the Age of Gutenberg

February 2010

Gutenberg’s invention of printing from movable type has inevitably dominated the history of the book in 15th-century Germany and beyond. The period, however, was one of transition, in which many media, including manuscript illumination, retained their old vitality and underwent fresh developments in complex interaction with prints and printed books. This one-day workshop focused on the illustrated book—handwritten as well as printed—in this period of profound cultural change. Seven papers by German, British, and American art historians, philologists, curators, and librarians represented important collections of prints and manuscripts in Germany. These examined critical issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, focusing on 15th century illumination not as a “last flowering,” but as a vital art in its own right.