Manuscripts and Reproductions

Colours in manuscripts

The early medieval illuminated manuscripts display vibrant pigment colours which may be indicators of the range and arrangement of colours on the high crosses, should they have been painted.

Origins of Irish script

Tim O'Neill: ‘About 1300 years ago, the Irish developed a beautiful formal script for writing books which forms the basis of the lower case or small letters we use today. These, along with Roman capitals and Arabic numerals, are all that is needed in the western world for the visual presentation of language'.

The difficulty of replication

At the turn of the twentieth century early Irish manuscripts could not be replicated in whole volumes and the majority of academic studies concentrated on translating the texts. The illuminated illustrations when reproduced were done by either hand drawing the details or by using techniques such as lithography, chromatography or photography. Occasional key decorative elements, such as capital letters or small panels, were recreated in print type-sets or photographic plates for publications.

Selling reproductions

Selections of metal replicas of capital letters from the manuscripts also featured in a number of jewellers catalogues. Numerous books or catalogues of chromolithographic reproductions of the individual motifs were also published for use in design schools and print shops.

In the exhibition

Publications on display

A seclection of contempory publications are displayed in the exhibition to show the different means of replicating manuscripts at the turn of the 19th century.

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