COLOUR. The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts


The Guardian rates the exhibition ‘COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts’ at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge a 5 star experience!
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Colour. The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts
The richly illustrated Catalogue  by Harvey Miller is published to accompany the bicentenary exhibition of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge that celebrates the occasion with a display of the highlights of its superb collection of Illuminated Manuscripts. More Info

Of all the medieval and Renaissance arts – from sculptures, ivories, frescoes and stained glass to easel and wall paintings – it is manuscript illuminations, protected inside volumes, that best preserve the glowing colours and precious metals that would have dazzled their original spectators. The focus of this exciting and innovative exhibition is on COLOUR: it integrates scientific and art historical analyses of painting materials and techniques with studies on the manuscripts’ historic contexts of production, including the relationships between artists and patrons. Identifications of the pigments’ chemical composition and methods of application are considered alongside their aesthetic impact as well as the multiple dimensions and meanings of colour appreciated by medieval and Renaissance viewers.

Over 150 manuscripts are displayed in the exhibition dating from the 8th to the 19th century and all are catalogued and fully illustrated here. The manuscripts are grouped in 14 thematic sections each of which is introduced by an essay that includes further relevant illustrations and presents the scientific and art historical analyses in a broader cultural context. The majority of the exhibits are from the Museum’s collection and the main focus is on Western European illumination, but examples of Byzantine, Armenian, Persian and Sanskrit manuscripts are also included. In addition there are special loans from other Cambridge, British and European collections. The catalogue entries and introductory essays are written by a team of leading manuscript scholars, scientists and conservators who offer an integrated, cross-disciplinary approach and new insights into the art of illumination.