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Illumination in Lorsch

More than 300 Lorsch manuscripts have survived up to the present day. Amongst them are a number of manuscripts that have been artistically embellished. In the light of palaeographic research three divisions of illumination in Lorsch can be recognized according to Matthias Exner:

  1. Several manuscripts from the first two or three decades of the scriptorium, founded under Abbot Richbod (784-804), are illuminated with ornamental initials in Anglo-Saxon style.
  2. The relatively sparse reception of the decoration of the "Lorsch Gospels", produced at the court of Charlemagne, is recognized to be from the 9th century.
  3. In the 11th century the artwork of an Ottonian artist can be perceived in Lorsch miniatures and initials. The artist, the so-called Master of the Registrum Gregorii, was working in Trier in the last quarter of the 10th century.

What all the three above named divisions of Lorsch decoration have in common, is that they received their inspiration from outside the Abbey walls. Furthermore, the first two are carried out in different qualities, without, however, showing signs of development, which would indicate the existence of an individual Lorsch school of illumination. This always brings up the same question, which is difficult to answer due to the lack of possibilities for comparison: the question is whether the few high quality testimonies from the Carolingian age were created by monks from the Nazarius monastery or by artists who were only temporarily residing in Lorsch. At least it is not improbable that there was a presence of miniaturists from Mainz in Lorsch, who in the second quarter of the 9th century made copies from the "Lorsch Gospels" (Munich, BSB, Clm 4451, foll. 14v, 51v, 78v, 115v and Paris, BNF, lat. 10437, foll. 16v, 62v, 93v, 138v). However, in the 11th century an independent Lorsch painting school is to be suspected, in particular for the initial ornaments; yet this still has to be confirmed and more thoroughly researched by art historians.

Ornamentation of Initials in the Insular Style Reception of the 'Lorsch Gospels” in the Carolingian Age' Lorsch illuminations in the wake of the Master of the Registrum Gregorii Ink Drawings and Sketches

The above links provide more detailed information and examples for illumination in Lorsch manuscripts.

Universitätsbibliothek HeidelbergUnesco Welterbestätte Kloster LorschBundesland Hessen