- Philadelphia: Penn Libraries/Kislak Center, 2020 280x215 mm. xv, 333 pp. Ill. Paperback with French flaps.
This exhibition catalogue examines the making of the hand-written and hand-illuminated book during a time of great political, religious, and technological transformation in Europe. Through approximately forty loans from ten regional institutions, as well another forty items from Penn's own collections, the exhibition examines the full intellectual and artistic depth of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries through a varied selection of extraordinary manuscripts, cuttings, and incunables, many of which have never before been exhibited.
The catalogue opens with a Foreword by Constantina Constantinou and Will Noel and an Introduction, “To Hold the Renaissance in Our Hands,” by curator Nicholas Herman. An essay, "Material Present Collecting Late Medieval and Early Modern Objects in (and around) Philadelphia," provides a detailed look at the history of the collections represented in the exhibition.
The first section of the exhibition catalogue, “Crafting the Codex,” introduces the reader to the patrons and collectors who were so often the genesis of these books, while conveying the role of humanist scribes and decorators in establishing aesthetic conventions that continue to this day. A middle section, “Showcasing Salvation,” vividly demonstrates the astonishing variety of artistic and codicological solutions devised to illustrate the increasingly complex rituals of private and public devotion. The final and largest section, entitled “Transmitting Knowledge,” showcases the intellectual world of the Renaissance by examining the rebirth of classical scholarship, the rise of a liberal arts curriculum, the growth of the mercantile class, and the exploration of new geographic frontiers.
The exhibition and catalogue showcase the wonderfully diverse collections of Philadelphia institutions, as well as the research discoveries made during the course of the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis regional cataloguing and digitization project.