Western calligraphy

Western calligraphy is the art of writing and penmanship as practiced in the Western world, especially using the Latin alphabet (but also including calligraphic use of the Cyrillic and Greek alphabets, as opposed to "Eastern" traditions such as Turko-Perso-Arabic, Chinese or Indian calligraphy).

First page of Paul's epistle to Philemon in the Rochester Bible (12th century).
A modern calligraphic rendition of the word calligraphy (Denis Brown, 2006)

A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner."[1] The story of writing is one of aesthetic development framed within the technical skills, transmission speed(s) and material limitations of a person, time and place.[2]

A style of writing is described as a script, hand or alphabet.[3]

Calligraphy ranges from functional hand-lettered inscriptions and designs to fine art pieces where the abstract expression of the handwritten mark may or may not supersede the legibility of the letters.[4] Classical calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may create all of these; characters are historically disciplined yet fluid and spontaneous, improvised at the moment of writing.[5]

Calligraphic writing continued to play a role long after the introduction of the printing press in the West, official documents being drawn up in engrossed or handwritten form well into the 18th century. A revival of calligraphy in the later 19th century was associated with the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements, and it continues to be practiced, typically commissioned for private purposes such as wedding invitations, logo design, memorial documents, etc.[6]


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