The power of colour, the splendour of medieval art
A major portion of our knowledge about medieval history is owed to age-old manuscripts. Without the illumination of previous centuries, we would not be able to understand or comprehend artists like Dürer, Picasso, Grünewald or Mondrian. Medieval mentality and everyday life, medieval beliefs and knowledge are all mirrored in the preciously decorated parchment pages..
Book illumination reflects the magnificence of times long past, when artistic expression and beliefs were still one. While some of the priceless treasures from the Middle Ages have survived, time has still left its trace. Manuscripts must therefore be preserved in air-conditioned environments, preferably hidden from light, and often diligently kept, inaccessible to the public, in national and university libraries, museums and monasteries. Our declared goal as facsimile publishers is to make the artistic foundations of our Western civilization visible to the interested public.
Both the protection and safeguarding of the original as well as the publication and scientific treatment in the course of facsimile reproduction have always been a top priority. The manufacture of each of our facsimile books requires considerable technical knowledge and craftsmanship. Each individual book is the result of many different working phases, all carried out by hand, comparable only with the work in a medieval scriptorium.
What is a facsimile?
A facsimile is the faithful reproduction (an exact copy) of a manuscript, or printed book. Faithful reproduction obviously means to display in the facsimile all visible characteristics of the original work – vibrant colours, gold and silver, but also age marks or irregularities. Facsimile books are generally published in worldwide limited editions. Facsimile editions are different, not only because of the perfect technical reproduction and craftsmanship applied to each single item, but also because they capture and convey the spirit and charisma of the original.
Before a facsimile is printed, it is necessary to photograph each single page of the original manuscript. The gathered image data then undergoes a colour separation process before the first trial prints are carried out. These prints are compared with the original and corrected until the colours exactly match those of the manuscript. Once the accuracy of colour has been verified, the actual printing process can begin.
Gold played an important role in medieval manuscripts: gold was a sign of immortality, of the Divine Word, of wealth and power. In order to convey this in our facsimile reproductions, we use a complicated process to apply gold. To reproduce the aesthetic features of each original, which usually shows signs of ageing in the gold as well, an additional working phase is needed to apply a patina to the gold.
Once the gilding is completed the printed sheets are cut to the original size and folded. The quires are now stitched together and then bound like the original or with a contemporary binding corresponding to the time period of the manuscript. Each facsimile edition is accompanied by a scientific commentary volume explaining the manuscript and the miniatures.