Thursday, November 27, 2014

Medieval art exhibitions in late 2014

We already had a chance to enjoy numerous medieval exhibitions this year - see for example my overview of exhibitions dedicated to various Holy Roman emperors -, but 2014 will close with a wonderful series of major exhibitions dedicated to the Middle Ages. I have collected information and links about the most important ones that came to my knowledge. Dear Readers, as you can see there is lots to choose from - feel free to let me know in a comment if you are planning to see some of these exhibitions. I will try to make it to Prague for the Benedictine exhibition, and will also have a chance to see two of the most famous medieval manuscripts during the Christmas holiday in New York. Here are some more details about the exhibitions, with texts copied from the various exhibition websites:

Open the Gates of Paradise - The Benedictines in the Heart of Europe, 800-1300

Prague, National Gallery (Waldstein Riding School and the Clementinum Gallery).
November 7, 2014 - March 15, 2015

"The purpose of this exhibition project is to introduce to scholars and general audiences the spiritual wealth and material culture of the Benedictine monasteries of the Early and High Middle Ages in Central Europe. The project is also intended to highlight the role of the Order of Saint Benedict in facilitating the acceptance of Christianity by the Central European nations, the adoption of Ancient Christian Mediterranean culture, and the process of the emergence and strengthening of states and statehood in Central Europe. Within this context, the term “Central Europe” is chiefly understood as the area occupied by the medieval states of Bohemia, Poland and Hungary, with the indispensable and entirely natural extension into the regions of the Holy Roman Empire. The exhibition will focus on prominent personalities of the Benedictine Order and its individual monastic centres, notably on the intermediary role they played in the cultural exchange between Western and Southern Europe, and the newly-Christianized Slavic and Hungarian territories."

The Magi. Legend, Art and Cult

Cologne, Museum Schnütgen
25 October 2014 – 25 January 2015

"In Cologne, the year 2014 will be devoted to the Magi, whose remains arrived in the cathedral city in 1164. During the Middle Ages, their relics transformed Cologne into a pilgrimage metropolis, and they became the patron saints of Cologne together with St. Ursula and St. Gereon. This is attested to by the Shrine of the Magi at Cologne Cathedral, Cologne’s coat of arms with the three crowns and numerous sculptures throughout the city.
The Museum Schnütgen has taken the anniversary as an opportunity to hold a large special exhibition. Throughout the centuries, the Magi have played a central role in art since the Three Wise Men were the first to recognise the Christ child as the Son of God. The exhibition will bring together ivories, sculptures, paintings, manuscripts and works of treasury art from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain that offer a particularly interesting interpretation of the subject and are artistically of especially high quality."

Saint Louis

Paris, Conciergerie
8 October 2014 - 11 January 2015

"A major exhibition entitled "Saint Louis" will be held in the Hall of Men-at-Armsat the Conciergerie from 8 October to 11 January 2015. This will be the culminating point of the events organised by the Centre des monuments nationaux to celebrate the 8th centenary of the birth of Louis IX in 1214.
At the age of 12, in 1226, Louis became King of France as Louis IX, in what went on to become one of the longest and most remarkable reigns in medieval France. He became a model and source of prestige for the kingdom and the Capetian dynasty, both as a king and as a saint subsequent to his canonisation just 27 years after his death.
Where better to understand Saint Louis and the issues that faced 13th-century France than in the Conciergerie, the royal residence on which he left his stamp and where he built his greatest masterpiece, the Sainte-Chapelle ? He was responsible for extending and embellishing the former Palais de la Cité, and for the time of the exhibition it will act as the showcase for 130 remarkable works which stand testimony to the intellectual energy and grace that invigorated Parisian art during his reign, and which are on loan from the collections of the greatest cultural institutions in France and abroad."

Voyager au Moyen Âge - Travel in the Middle Ages

Paris, Musée de Cluny - Musée national du Moyen Âge
22 October 2014 - 23 February 2015

This exhibition, also in Paris, look at travel in the Middle Ages - different sorts of travellers, such as merchants, pilgrims, princes and artists. The objects on view help us appreciate better how and why men and women travelled in the period of the Middle Ages. The exhibition was mounted in cooperation with other museums of medieval art, such as the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne.

Leaving Europe, there are also a number of interesting medieval exhibitions on view in New York City this season.

The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece

New York, Morgan Library & Museum
October 17, 2014 - January 4, 2015

"The spectacular Crusader Bible is one of the greatest illuminated manuscripts in the world, renowned as much for its unrivalled and boldly colored illustrations as it is for its fascinating history. The work brings Old Testament stories alive in bright images replete with medieval castles, towns, and battling knights in armor, all set in thirteenth-century France. Before the manuscript is rebound visitors will have the opportunity to view over forty of its miniatures, the work of six anonymous artists who were the artistic geniuses of their day. They will also learn about the manuscript's incredible journey from France to Italy, Poland, Persia, Egypt, England, and finally, New York."

The Winchester Bible:  Masterpiece of Medieval Art

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
December 9, 2014 - March 9, 2015

"Masterfully illuminated pages from two volumes of the magnificent, lavishly ornamented Winchester Bible—a pivotal landmark of medieval art from around 1200—will be shown at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for three months. Probably commissioned around 1155–60 by the wealthy and powerful Henry of Blois (1129–1171), who was the Bishop of Winchester (and grandson of William the Conqueror and King Stephen’s brother), the manuscript is the Cathedral’s single greatest surviving treasure. Renovations at Winchester Cathedral provide the opportunity for these pages, which feature the Old Testament, to travel to New York. This presentation marks the first time the work will be shown in the United States. At the Metropolitan Museum, the pages of one bound volume will be turned once each month; three unbound bi-folios with lavish initials from the other volume—which is currently undergoing conservation—will be on view simultaneously for the duration of the exhibition." 

Image credit: Opening for the Book of Jeremiah (detail), Jeremiah receives his prophecy from God. Winchester Bible, fol. 148r. Tempera and gold on parchment. Winchester Cathedral Priory of Saint Swithun, ca. 1150–80. Lent by the Chapter of Winchester Cathedral. Image: © The Chapter of Winchester Cathedral

Grand Design - Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
October 8, 2014–January 11, 2015

This international loan exhibition explores the achievements of the great northern Renaissance master Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–1550). As the impressive body of his surviving drawings makes clear, Coecke was a master designer, devising projects across media, from tapestry series, to panel paintings, prints, stained glass, and goldsmith's work. The exhibition unites nineteen of the grand tapestries he designed, woven in the great workshops of Brussels for collectors from Emperor Charles V, France's François Ier, and Henry VIII of England, to Cosimo de Medici, juxtaposed with a selection of his panel paintings, including a monumental triptych, and more than thirty drawings and prints. Coecke was also the translator and editor of influential Italian architectural treatises that are included in the exhibition. In the midst of this productivity, Coecke also traveled extensively, and among the exhibits is the fascinating woodcut frieze he designed, over fourteen feet in length, recording his experiences in Constantinople.

Image credit: Detail of Eve, from God Accuses Adam and Eve after the Fall tapestry in a set of The Story of Creation. Design attributed to Pieter Coecke van Aelst, ca. 1548. Woven under the direction of Jan de Kempeneer and Frans Ghieteels, Brussels, completed by 1551. Wool, silk, and silver- and silver-gilt-wrapped threads. Florence Instituti Museale della Soprintendenza Speciale per il Polo Museale Fiorentino (Arazzi 1912–25, 17). Photograph by Bruce White

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