The colour of medieval Portuguese illumination: an interdisciplinary approach

Maria João Melo, Maria Adelaide Conceição Miranda, Ana Lemos, João A. Lopes, António Pereira Gonçalves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Romanesque illumination is intimately linked to the monastic world; particularly to the São Mamede do Lorvão, São Pedro de Arouca, Santa Cruz de Coimbra and Santa Maria de Alcobaça monasteries. It is in this cultural universe, rich in religious, political and artistic references that we propose to study colour. By exploring how colour was created and applied in specific patterns and for especial visual effects, we aim to contribute for a better understanding of its symbolic and social meaning. Colour distribution was quantified by mapping the relative areas of the main colours,
blue, red, green, yellow and orange. The interdisciplinary research that was carried out has put forward new hypotheses in relation to aesthetic and symbolic options of the illuminators and to the dating of the manuscripts, Lorvão Apocalypse and De Avibus respectively.
Finally, we started a narrative that will allow us to unveil the meaning of the colour in medieval codices, detecting the contributions of the three medieval cultures which forged Portugal, that is the Hebrew, Muslim and Christian cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-173
JournalRevista de História da Arte
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Iluminura medieval
  • Cor
  • Análises científicas
  • Apocalipse do Lorvão
  • De avibus


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