Archive of the month: Secular illuminations

Portrait of Henry VIII

Miniature portrait of Henry VIII, 1539
Larger image

February's Archive of the month from the Archive Centre shows exquisite illuminations drawn and painted on secular manuscripts. The manuscripts date from between 1393 and 1781.

During this period English religious illumination declined and illuminators instead turned to decorating secular documents such as Royal Charters and exemplifications (attested copies of records).

The illuminations include scrollwork, floral patterns, crests and royal portraits. These portraits became common on royal documents from the 16th century onwards, and were the precursor to the genre of miniature portrait painting.

See Archive of the month.

8 February 2010