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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Medieval manuscripts that force us to think differently about art – review 

Sometimes, though the exhibition is thorough and traditional, it gives the impression of also deconstructing Medieval art. Though it was certainly a horrid habit for people, at various points in history, to cut pages from volumes, a curatorial virtue can be made of it. When a book of hours sits in a case, the image on show is offset by the knowledge that we’re missing out on so much, as every other page is likely to be a wonder. This exhibition doesn’t escape this bibliophilic frustration. But mounted loose pages, framed, can be displayed to give a sense of narrative. A group of images 'probably’ from a Psalter – a personal prayer book of Psalms – show us perfect examples of the mid-13th Century style, the body of Christ on the cross thin and elegant, his robes shaded and depicted with a realistic weft. 


By the late 14th and 15th centuries the form reached an apex, as with an encyclopaedia illuminated by the Parisian Master of the Mazarine Hours: the page on display depicting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The margins are an explosion of spiky ivy which occasionally sprouts dragons and angels. Even the text itself is shot through with gold, polished to a shine. Specimens from the Fitzwilliam are joined by others from collections all over the world: but most of the showstoppers, including this and the Macclesfield Psalter, belong to Britain. 


Source : www.telegraph.co.uk/

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