At first the "miniator" was charged with tracing in red minium the titles and initials.Despite its limitations, the art of illumination is one of the most charming ever invented; it exacts the same qualifications and produced almost as powerful effects as painting ; it even calls for a delicacy of touch all its own.Besides fantastic scenes ("Apocalypse of Mohomet", Paris, Bib. Turk., 190) are found contemporary reproductions of scenes from real life which take us into the streets of Bagdad in the thirteenth century or permit us to follow an army or a caravan on the march ("Maqâmât" of Hariri, Bib. The history of Byzantine miniatures is yet to be written; it is impossible at present to determine its origin or to study its development.It seems more and more evident that Byzantine art, far from being an original creation, is no more than a prolonged survival of the Hellenic-oriental art of the fourth to the sixth centuries.
the Genesis of the Imperial Library of Vienna, the Evangeliarium of Rossano, and the fragment of the Gospel of St.
The author was a native monk and a complete stranger to Hellenic art. As early as the fifth century schools of miniaturists were formed in the Christian convents of Syria and Mesopotamia which drew some of their inspiration from Greek art (draped figures), but relied mainly on the ornamental traditions of the ancient Orient.
Syria and Mesopotamia The existence of Persian manuscripts on parchment very rich in miniatures, is proved by allusions of St. The masterpiece of this school is the Syriac Evangeliary written in 586 at the Monastery of Zagba (Mesopotamia) by the monk Rabula (since the fifteenth century in the Laurentian Library, Florence).
The Greek monks charged with the illumination of manuscripts never ceased to copy models, following the fashion and the occupation of the time, these models sometimes varies; hence Byzantine art has undergone a development more apparent than real.
Under present conditions, without seeking to determine the schools, we must be content to indicate the principal groups of manuscripts.