“Women and the Book in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance” at Les Enluminures

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The exhibition, "Women and the Book in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance," explores the fascinating topic of women in the world of the book—as authors, artists, scribes, readers, and agents. Thirty-six manuscripts are divided into four categories: books owned by lay women, owned by nuns, written by women, and written by men.

Books of Hours were one of the quintessential books written for and used by women. A select group is presented here, including one where a mother and her daughter appear in one of the pictures and another where the owner Françoise promises a glass of wine to anyone who finds and returns her book, if she loses it. Nuns wrote and illuminated manuscripts in the medieval era, describing their books as their "precious pearls." Several examples emerge in this show, including a newly discovered manuscript from Medingen, an important convent in Germany, and a new work by the artist-scribe Elsbeth Töpplin with its original binding (also by a woman) intact. Books by men for and about women are also included, such as a previously unknown copy of Boccaccio's Fiammetta, which tells the tragic love story of its heroine and is signed and dated 1458 by its scribe. The untold lives of medieval women, their roles at home and in society, emerge vividly from the pages of these unique objects.

A lavishly illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition ($35). Written by Laura Light, it includes an introduction by Professor Anne Winston-Allen and a preface by Sandra Hindman. The exhibition opens in New York on January 24, 2015 and runs until February 21, 2015. The manuscripts come from a wide range of countries and dates: France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany, from c. 1300 to c. 1550. Prices start at $14,000.

Exhibition info:

WOMEN AND THE BOOK IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE RENAISSANCE January 24 to February 21, 2015
Monday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm
Les Enluminures, 23 East 73rd Street, 7th floor (Penthouse) New York, New York 10021
212 717 7273
newyork@lesenluminures.com
Opening, Master Drawings Week, January 23, 4 pm to 8 pm

Image: FRANÇOISE FORTIN HOURS (USE OF LISIEUX AND ROUEN). In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on parchment. France (Rouen), c. 1480. 11 miniatures by a follower of the Master of the Echevinage of Rouen.

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