A contribution by
President and Founder, Les Enluminures
Professor Emerita, Department of Art History, Northwestern University
The Medieval World at our Fingertips.
Manuscript Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman
Designed to accompany the special exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago of a selection of about thirty illuminated manuscript leaves from my personal collection, this publication is quite unlike most exhibition catalogues. The award-winning author of The Medieval World at Our Fingertips, Christopher de Hamel, has perhaps catalogued more medieval manuscripts than any person living today. Yet, he conceived of this book not at all as a straightforward catalogue, but as a series of short, imaginative essays inspired by the illuminated miniatures, which span the twelfth to the sixteenth century and originate in Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and England. The evocative titles of these essays invite further exploration. Some examples are “Why Saints Matter” (on cuttings by the thirteenth-century Master of Monza), “Marking Time” (on calendar illuminations from around 1400 in Paris), “Re-enacting the Past” (on an International style English illumination of the Old Testament), “Devotion and Domesticity” (on Dutch illuminations by the Masters of the Suffrages), and “Leonardo in Miniature” (on two works by the Renaissance Master B.F.). Sumptuously reproduced comparative illustrations in widely diverse media (paintings, textiles, stained glass, sculpture, graphics) are drawn from relatively little-known collections at the Art Institute but also from museums and libraries world-wide. Aimed at the general reader, but at the same time of interest to the specialist scholar, this fascinating volume provides a general and informative guide to a rich understanding of the historical, social, and cultural circumstances that influenced medieval art, as well as a unique appreciation of the art of illumination. Complimenting de Hamel’s engaging essays, a succinct Catalogue by Matthew Westerby of the exhibited items gives precise descriptions, technical details, provenances, and literature. An eloquent Introduction by James Marrow sets the stage for the “intricate and the aesthetically compelling world of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts” that unfolds in The Medieval World at Our Fingertips.
ENGLISH PAINTER (MASTER OF THE LYDGATE TROYBOOK,ACTIVE LONDON, C.1420–1430)
RACHEL AND JACOB LAMENTING JOSEPH, FROM A BOOK OF HOURS (95 × 92 MM.)
ENGLAND, LONDON, C.1420–30
THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, GIFT OF SANDRA HINDMAN, 2017.203