An illumination is a medieval text decoration. It is associated to old traditional books and their decorated capital letters or religious scenes. This definition describes the know-how as a classical one. However, it is much more than that.

Short story of illumination

This know-how represents a rich and old historical heritage. According to the French dictionary Larousse, illumination represents the “act of ornament a manuscript, a book, with painted decoration”. In other words, illumination is a technique of decoration with the objective to embellish a text or a story by using handmade painting made of pigments and animal adhesive.

Despite popular opinion, the origin of this know-how does not start in the Middle Ages period. It has been existing since the Ancient Egypt. The older illustration on manuscript has been discovered in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, approximately edited in 1700 B.C. and A.D. 63.

The codex continues the illumination’s story. This one was born in the 1st Century and represents the ancestor of books. Its pages were first made in ovin skins and then, with paper. There were texts and illustrations in theses manuscripts. In the Middle Ages, monks used this know-how to diffuse the Bible texts. Unfortunately, the success of printing made the illumination disappear.

In a traditional way, illumination is applied on parchment with pigments. Today, craftsmen are using the old techniques and the contemporary ones, in order to make the fine crafts durable.

The illuminator Sophie Théodose

Sophie Théodose has been supported by Fondation Rémy Cointreau because of her master of her know-how and because of her innovative vision of it. In fact, she has developed the concept of “travelling illumination”. It consists in creating an illumination on new supports such as decorative panels, paintings, vases, or lights. This concept puts her realisations to an artwork position.