Modern Illuminated Manuscript

Yesterday I posted about how much the illuminated manuscripts at The Getty Center struck me. Well, I found out today that in fact, there was just such an illuminated bible commissioned in 1998 by St. Johns Abbey and University. This was not a modern copy of an illuminated bible from the Middle Ages, this was a new work entirely, harkening back to the “old styles” but with a modern sensibility. Here’s a YouTube video explaining a bit about the process:

It’s not one single big “bible” (apparently, that would have been too huge) but it’s split into 7 volumes of about 35 pounds each. You can see the manuscript online to get a better look at it. Obviously, this isn’t for sale, a single copy was commissioned for the Abbey/University. However, there are prints and reproductions, with the highest quality reproductions fetching around $600+ per volume. Obviously, you have to have money for something like this. This ain’t no mass market bible we’re talking about here.

I’m heartened to see that this art isn’t lost. As I said in my previous blog, ultimately these manuscripts may be the only things left one day. This may not be the sort of book that we can each own and put our shelf, but some things are worth doing just because they’re that important, you know? To St. Johns Abbey and University, obviously this bible was worth the money.

I wonder, what other works do we consider worth this sort of treatment? What works would we want as our legacy as humans? Certainly, religious works have been the traditional choice for this type of treatment. But so were latin primers, and other works. If aliens discovered our culture years after we had destroyed ourselves, what illustrated manuscripts would we want them to find?