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Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination Exhibition

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at and my theatre reviews at
Published December 3rd 2011
Illuminated Manuscripts
The Exhibition's Advertising Poster of God Creating the Heavens and Earth
The British Library is currently displaying its huge (and extremely colourful) collection of illuminated manuscripts. The basis of the collection is the Old Royal Library, donated to the nation by George II in 1757. The exhibition comprises of manuscripts and handwritten books that were created between the 8th and 16th centuries.
Illuminated Manuscripts
Prince Henry and John Mowbray
Among the works on display are psalters, prayerbooks, Bibles, historical texts, advice to monarchs, chronicles, bestiaries and reference books. The artwork in many of the exhibits is exceptional, but above all, the colours are as vivid now as they were when first painted. The visit includes information on the creation of the original vellum or parchment, the quill pens, and of the colours and gold leaf that were used by the craftsmen, together with a demonstration of the working process. You will also marvel at the beautiful calligraphy used by the scribes who compiled the handwritten words for these texts.

Illuminated Manuscripts
A Wedding Present for Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI
You don't necessarily have to be interested in the medieval or Renaissance periods to attend the exhibition. All you need is an appreciation of fine and delicate works of art, but you will come away from the British Library with a little more insight into the history of the 8th to 16th centuries. You may even want to return for one of the upcoming talks or events associated with these exquisite items and the times in which they were created. Future speakers include Michael Wood, Simon Armitage and David Starkey.
Illuminated Manuscripts
Edward IV: Founder of the Old Royal Library
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Why? To see the beauty and vivid colours of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts
When: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 09.30 - 18.00, Tuesday 09.30 - 20.00, Saturday 09.30 - 17.00, Sundays and Public Holidays 11.00 - 17.00
Where: 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Cost: 10 (including a free audio guide)
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