Four Gospels Drawing

I found this image in an 11th century illuminated manuscript The Four Gospels.

I did a quick freehand sketch in pen and ink and then decided to color it in. It has some obvious problems with scale and perspective, but instead of working it all out in pencil first where I could make corrections, I wanted to try my hand at going directly with pen and ink. Even with the problems, I like this copy I made. I will probably return to this source for more images and practice.

In recent years, many of these ancient hand-made books have been digitized and put online. I became interested in illuminated manuscripts when I attended a presentation at Kansas State University about the St. John’s Bible, which was the first bible / book made in the old style (hand drawn on parchment) in several centuries.

Many people do not give much thought to the fact that before the invention of the printing press, every book ever made was written completely by hand. This made books very rare and very expensive. And while we might think about the importance of the printing press, another technological development was required before we could have inexpensive books for the general population to read and enjoy – paper. Yes, these illuminated medieval manuscripts were not written on paper, but on parchment made from animal skins, making the cost of a single book astronomically expensive; as in more expensive than a man could earn in many years of working. It should make us all the more appreciative of the many inexpensive books we have access to nowadays. Heck, with things like Project Gutenberg, we can easily access digital e-books that are completely free!




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.