The frightening illuminations of the Getty

For Halloween 2014, Bryan C. Keene of the J. Paul Getty Museum blog Iris, chose to look at some of the frightening images of medieval, illuminated manuscripts in the museum's collection. The article is richly illustrated with examples. (photos)

Keene writes:

Illuminated manuscripts provided the medieval reader-viewer with a rich array of images that often rival those that we encounter on Halloween, from gory scenes of decapitated martyrs or arrow-pierced saints to walking cadavers, creepy spiders, spooky cemeteries, and even witches and ghosts. The images that follow had a variety of functions: some served as moral exemplars, while others instilled fear or terror to inspire pious living, or reminded the living of the fleeting nature of life. Many are full of naturalistic details that heighten the visual experience.