Madison, Wisconsin, October 22, 2010—The Chazen Museum of Art will present Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections, an exhibition that brings together rarely seen ornate handmade books from university libraries, museums, and private collections in seven states. Illuminated manuscripts were produced in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and early modern period, and the exhibition includes examples of bibles, liturgical manuscripts, devotional books for the laity’s private use, and volumes containing literary, historical, and legal texts. Approximately forty manuscripts and single leaves, dating from the ninth to sixteenth centuries, are being loaned for Hidden Treasures, which is on view December 18, 2010–February 27, 2011.
Before the printing press was invented in the fifteenth century, handmade books were written on parchment and painted with brilliant pigments and gold leaf, and they continued to be produced well after that date. The miniature paintings, called illuminations for the frequent use of shimmering gold leaf, are still breathtakingly vibrant today. Illuminated manuscripts exemplify the convergence of medieval bookmaking, written text, and art.