Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages

Overview

In the Middle Ages, artists explored and tested the medium of drawing, producing whimsical sketches, illustrated treatises, and finished drawings of extraordinary refinement. This fascinating volume is the first to examine and celebrate the achievements of medieval draftsmen in depth. It reproduces rarely seen leaves from more than fifty manuscripts dating from the 9th to the early 14th century. In the accompanying texts, Melanie Holcomb and other experts in the field consider the techniques, uses, and aesthetics...

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Overview

In the Middle Ages, artists explored and tested the medium of drawing, producing whimsical sketches, illustrated treatises, and finished drawings of extraordinary refinement. This fascinating volume is the first to examine and celebrate the achievements of medieval draftsmen in depth. It reproduces rarely seen leaves from more than fifty manuscripts dating from the 9th to the early 14th century. In the accompanying texts, Melanie Holcomb and other experts in the field consider the techniques, uses, and aesthetics of medieval drawings, casting light on their critical role in the intellectual life of the Middle Ages.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In her introduction, Holcomb (associate curator, medieval art, Metropolitan Museum of Art) explains the cultural background of the 49 entries in this exhibition catalog published in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two of her points seem especially important in helping the modern viewer approach medieval drawings: they are not all monochrome lines (but may be drawn in colored inks or have tinted washes in places), and the main aspect that distinguishes them from medieval paintings is that the parchment shows through as an integral part of their pictorial aesthetic. The chronological arrangement of the drawings (borrowed from international museums and private collections) begins with historiated initial letters in the ninth century and ends with sculptural figures in the 14th century. This catalog accomplishes something quite noteworthy—a subject that might be considered more within the realm of specialist art historians has been opened up for the public. VERDICT With informative text and illustrations of truly exquisite and diverse drawings, this book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn about the range of visual expressions in medieval times.—Anne Marie Lane, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie
New York Times
“[The] show comes with an excellent catalog that brings together a pithy introductory essay by Ms. Holcomb and lengthy entries by Ms. Williams and a dozen other curators and scholars. That number alone suggests both the broad scope of the works on view and the rarity of the occasion…”—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300200119
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 8/31/2013
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Melanie Holcomb is Associate Curator in the Medieval Art Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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