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Festival Books

October 4, 2004–January 28, 2005
East Building, Ground Floor, Study Center

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery of Art.


Original exhibition poster
(click to enlarge)

Overview: Festivals in Europe were held to celebrate coronations, marriages, and births, welcome state visitors, laud military victories, and mourn the passing of powerful individuals. Although such events were documented from an early date, it was in the 17th and 18th centuries that lavish, well-illustrated books came to accompany many of the most important festivals. Since much of the apparatus of such events was ephemeral in nature, these books are the only way that we can study them today. This exhibition presented 20 such volumes, many with extensive illustrations and folding plates that document the architecture and other art works commissioned for the events, as well as recording the participants, orations, parades, banquets, and even fireworks displays associated with them.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art. Lamia Doumato, head of library reader services, was curator.