Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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The decoration of a manuscript or book with painted pictures, ornamented letters, designs, or a combination thereof, in colors and (usually) burnished gold or silver.

The design was first drawn and then sized with a mixture of clay, gypsum or lime, followed by an adhesive (glair). The gold or silver leaf was laid on and burnished, and the colors were then applied.

Although illumination is considered to be a medieval art, its origins can be traced back to illustrated Egyptian papyrus rolls and especially to Greco-Roman book illustration. Classical artists illustrated the text of codices with continuous chronological sequences of scenes, which often filled the entire page.

The word "miniature," which comes from the Latin minimum (red lead, which the Romans used for initial letters), is frequently used with reference to the individual pictures in an illuminated work; however, a "miniature painting" is not synonymous with "illustration," because illuminations are usually executed in gold or silver while miniatures generally are not. (140 , 156 , 365 )

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