In a mere 48 pages, author Michelle Brown, currator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library, has put together a wonderful expose of the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the beautiful illuminated productions to come out of the Irish monastic/scholarly traditions of the so-called Dark Ages. One can wonder how an age that could produce such exquisite books as the Lindisfarne Gospel could ever be called 'dark'.
The Lindisfarne Gospel is a piece of art, and a piece of history. It is a significant milestone in the history of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon development. Brown's book has illuminations of a more modern sort on every page, pictures and graphics, illustrating the beauty, grandeur, and history of this great work. The Lindisfarne Gospels helped to define Christianity for the local culture, connecting it with the larger world of Christendom.
The Lindisfarne Gospels' artistry lies not only in the beautiful pages, but in great attention to detail throughout. The colours and pages, the hinges and covers, the stitching and construction all testify to an unparalleled care for craftsmanship. The influences of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon imagery is clearly seen in the illuminations and construction, which in turn influenced the further development of those traditions. The calligraphy was influenced by Roman, Greek and Germanic lettering, blending things together in an astonishingly complementary way.
This book would be a gem for the pictures alone; with the brief, insightful text by Michelle Brown, the book becomes a real gift to the reader.