Masterpieces in Miniature

Italian Manuscript Illumination from the J. Paul Getty Museum

September 25, 2005 – March 26, 2006

East Building Mezzanine


Overview: 45 illuminated manuscripts created in Italy during the 12th to 16th centuries were shown in this exhibition. These manuscripts were drawn from the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. 7 related panel paintings and 2 medals from the National Gallery of Art's collection were also on view. The installation was organized by the places where the manuscripts were produced: Southern Italy; Bologna; Florence and Siena; Lombardy and the Duchy of Milan; Ferrara, Mantua, and the Veneto; and Rome. The exhibition was an expanded version of the spring 2005 presentation at the J. Paul Getty Museum and included works acquired by the Getty Museum during the summer.

Recorded Gregorian chant performed by the National Gallery Vocal Arts Ensemble based on 2 illuminated choir books on view could be heard at listening stations in the exhibition. A short film illustrating the process of creating a manuscript was shown continuously in a viewing area at the end of the presentation.

The Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art, "Illuminated Choral Manuscripts of the Italian Renaissance, " was delivered by Jonathan J. G. Alexander, Sherman Fairchild Professor of Fine Arts, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. The National Gallery Vocal Arts Ensemble performed Gregorian chant and music by Palestrina on November 6 in honor of the exhibition.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Thomas Kren, curator of manuscripts, and Kurt Barstow, associate curator of manuscripts, were the curators.

Image: Cosmè Tura, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, 1470s, miniature on vellum, Rosenwald Collection, 1946.21.14

Attendance: 73,735

Catalog: Italian Illuminated Manuscripts in the J. Paul Getty Museum, by Thomas Kren and Kurt Barstow. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005.

Brochure: Masterpieces in Miniature: Italian Manuscript Illumination from the J. Paul Getty Museum, by Kurt Barstow and Thomas Kren. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 2005.

Other Venues: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, March 29–June 12, 2005