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Re-Inventing Traditions

On the Transmission of Artistic Patterns in Late Medieval Manuscript Illumination

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Edited By Joris Corin Heyder and Christine Seidel

The volume comprises 16 papers given at the conference Re-Inventing Traditions held in Berlin in 2012. It negotiates the question of the transmission of artistic patterns in late medieval manuscript illumination. The model as such is often regarded as a mere working tool but recently the conditions of its creation and transformation have been discovered as a field of research. Among the central themes of these essays are textual tradition, workshop methods and the development and changeability of artistic models throughout different media and in various European regions.
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Re-Inventing Traditions? Preliminary thoughts on the transmission of artistic patterns in late medieval manuscript illumination: Joris C. Heyder

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Joris C. Heyder

Re-Inventing Traditions? Preliminary thoughts on the transmission of artistic patterns in late medieval manuscript illumination1

Abstract

This paper seeks to give a spotlighted insight on the state of research of transmissions of artistic patterns in late medieval manuscript illumination. Starting from an example of a motif’s multiple repitition in more than a dozen Flemish books of hours over the period of five decades, it calls into question popular patterns of explanation, such as the economization of production, but propose to rethink our understanding of how and traditions were re-invented in manuscript painting. In this context, the role of model and pattern books should be renegotiated as is also for the illuminators methods of work. By offering a critical reading of our history of notion and concept, the paper aims to sensibilize for an unbiased view on processes of copying, repetition and tradition building. Instead of evaluating processes of transmission by reflecting their innovational impact we propose to concentrate more on the process itself. The history of lost intermediaries, traces uncovered by contemporary conservatory methods and the reexamination of workshop practices is only just beginning.

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