The Netherlandish Miniature, 1260–1550
Illuminated manuscripts were produced across Europe throughout the Middle Ages. They preserve the major portion of medieval painting and all the arts of calligraphy, bookbinding, and publishing. The Low Countries, the region occupied today by the Netherlands and Belgium, produced some of the most sumptuous and innovative miniatures, or pictures, to be found within illuminated books. Netherlandish manuscript painting forms one of the great artistic traditions of the Middle Ages and was divided into two distinct artistic cultures—the north, with its centers of illumination at Utrecht, Delft, and the Hague, and the South Netherlands dominated by Flanders and its centers of Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp. These miniatures from illuminated books represent the culture of private devotion and monasticism that dominated life in the medieval Netherlands. While the scale of the paintings may be small, their power and refinement is often truly monumental.