Posts Tagged ‘manuscripts’

Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination

February 11, 2012
feast of Belshazzar

feast of Belshazzar

An illiterate King is like a crowned ass. – John of Salisbury

Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination is an exhibition of Royal Manuscripts at the British Museum. But please do not even think of ordering tickets on-line as to do so is a nightmare.

On-line tickets for British Museum exhibition

The nightmare continues when you arrive. Tickets for a concert by The Sixteen that evening, explicitly gave admission to the exhibition. But not according to the guardian on the door. No you cannot gain access, you have to buy your tickets, your tickets are for this evening only. Absolutely ridiculous, but common sense did eventually prevail, with apologies from the British Library.

Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination runs from 11 November 2011 to 13 March 2012, with associated talks, a concert by early music group The Sixteen and a three part series on BBC Four, Illuminations: The Private Lives of Medieval Kings.

The British Library’s unique collection of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts. Collected by the kings and queens of England over 800 years these treasures are outstanding examples of the decorative and figurative painting of the era. Together they are our most vivid source for understanding royal identity, moral and religious beliefs, learning, faith artistic trends and the international politics of the period.

Books within books. Athelstan shown reading a book, Athelstan shown giving St Cuthbert a book.

Note: The St Cuthbert Bible is on display in an adjacent semi-permanent exhibition which sadly we had no time to look round. The St Cuthbert Bible is only on loan and will be lost to the nation if funds are not found to purchase. [see St Cuthbert’s Bible]

Strong link between art, books, Kings and religion (the great monastic houses).

Books were revered.

Athelstan the first King to have his image in a book. Athelstan, the Anglo-Saxon King who united the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to form one kingdom, England

Edgar, had a book written by the monks of Winchester, the pages are written in gold! The king holding a book, a gold book, probably the book written in gold.

Being in the good books, had a quite literal meaning. The Anglo-Saxon monks of Winchester kept a register. If your name was listed, you would be called by Christ to enter Heaven,

I never knew Cnut was entombed at Winchester. Not quite what one would expect for a Danish King. But then would you expect Napoleon II and Empress Eugenie to be entombed in Farnborough Abbey, guarded by French Benedictine monks.

The illuminations are amazing to look at. Many of the books are huge.

The British Library has created a set of facebook albums of the illuminated manuscripts, together with detailed notes. Please feel free to share on your facebook wall and with that of your friends.

A lot to take in, after an hour or so, my head began to spin.

The books were commissioned by Kings, given as presents, received as spoils of war.

Bibles, history of the Bible or Bible historiale, history of the world, an early encyclopedia, instructions on princely behaviour, music, an atlas commissioned by Henry VIII opened at a page showing Brazil.

The Bible Histories tell Biblical stories, but the beauty of the illustrations are the clothes of the day of the illustrator.

These manuscripts are usually locked away in the vaults. We were lucky to see them. After the exhibition ends, it will be a long time before they see the light of day again. If you are able to, make the effort to visit as it is well worth it.

Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination
Illuminations: The Private Lives of Medieval Kings
My Name is Red

On-line tickets for British Museum exhibition

January 8, 2012
A wedding present for Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI

A wedding present for Margaret of Anjou and Henry VI

The exploits of Alexander the Great

The exploits of Alexander the Great

It should be easy enough, ordering tickets on-line for an exhibition at the British Museum. That is what on-line is all about?


Wrong, very wrong! At least not if you wish to order tickets for the British Museum.

It should be easy enough. Select what you want, type in card details and tickets are paid for and in the post or there to collect.

Oh no. Before you can get that far you have to register personal details with the British Museum.

Then select a password. A very specific password. It has to be alphanumeric, including upper and lower case letters.

Then you have to type in a set of random characters that you can barely see, let alone read. Get anything wrong, you have to start again, including typing in the barely legible characters.


It does not say. Do they think we are going to run off with a few manuscripts or maybe do a runner with a mummy tucked under each arm?

Once you have done this, you then have to verify what has been e-mailed. You do not have to but it is advisable as otherwise you have to go through this entire procedure all over again next time you try to order tickets for an exhibition.

Then you enter card details.

Then how you wish the tickets to be delivered. A pull down menu, default e-mail. The default is the only option! Why the pull down menu if no other choice?

What an I supposed to do, drag along my laptop? Maybe will put on a usb memory stick!

All for a concert with The Sixteen.

One hell of a load of hassle.

It took me an hour or more on a laptop. I’d hate to try on a mobile phone. Do not even try. A friend did the previous day. After trying all afternoon and evening she gave up. It was not she who was at fault, it was an appallingly designed website. Had I not said I would try, I too would have given up. Had it been simply for an exhibition, I would not have bothered.

To add insult to injury British Museum had the gall to ask for a donation!

Autumn 2011, I went to the Sistine Tapestries at the Victoria and Albert. I never had this trouble. The tickets were there for me to collect.

I am always baffled why people think it is easier to buy on-line as it has never been my experience. I find it is far easier to pop in a shop. You can see and handle what you are buying and it is there in your hand to take away.

I wished to buy PaintShop Pro X4. I tried Amazon. There is also PaintShop Pro X4 Ultimate. No explanation the difference. I have never purchased from Amazon. But I am registered. It goes without saying I know not my password. Never mind, click lost password and a new password gets e-mailed to me.

Oh no, that would be far too easy. Type in illegible characters and type in last four digits of credit card. But I have never purchased anything from Amazon!

I went to PC World. Picked up off the shelf what I wanted. Exactly same price as Amazon.

Tickets for British Museum are for early music group The Sixteen, and includes free entry to Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination.

The concert is unseated! To unseat someone is to remove from office. Do they mean we stand? Do they mean seats not allocated? If so, why not say so?

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