Mar 30 | The 12th Annual Breslauer Lecture featuring Lucy Freeman Sandler


The 12th Annual Breslauer Lecture featuring Lucy Freeman Sandler

March 30, 2023
6 – 8:30 PM ET

The Grolier Club
47 East 60th Street, New York, NY

From Idea to Image in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts”

During the Covid-19 years I worked on and completed a book on the subject of images of books in medieval and Renaissance manuscripts—books-in-books—which I had begun early in 2019 at the suggestion of Dr. Kathleen Doyle, lead curator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library. The title is Penned & Painted: The Art and Meaning of Books in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. My lecture will give you an idea of how I came to write this book, and how I treated the subject.

The concept of “the book” has always been of central importance in Judeo-Christian thought. In the western European and the eastern Mediterranean world from the fifth to the end of the fifteenth, and even into the sixteenth century, this conceptual centrality was reflected materially in thousands of images of books in illustrated manuscripts, not just in sacred texts of “the Word of God,” but in devotional and secular works as well. I will discuss the forms of these book representations, and then turn to the chief ways in which we can understand the images—as symbols of belief and learning, and as depictions of books in use. 

Almost all the illustrations in my lecture are drawn from manuscripts in the holdings of the British Library, of which Bernard Breslauer was such a generous benefactor.

Lucy Freeman Sandler is Helen Gould Sheppard Professor of Art History, emerita, at New York University, the institution from which she received her PhD. Among her publications are: Gothic Manuscripts, 1285–1385, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, Vol. 5, edited by J. J. G. Alexander, 2 vols. (London and New York: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1986); Studies in Manuscript Illumination, 1200–1400 (London: Pindar Press, 2008); Illuminators and Patrons in Fourteenth-Century England: The Psalter and Hours of Humphrey de Bohun and the Manuscripts of the Bohun Family (London: British Library, 2014), and Penned & Painted: The Art and Meaning of Books in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (London: British Library, 2022); she is the author of seven additional monographs and numerous articles on manuscript illumination in medieval Europe. Recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1967, 1977), the Simon Guggenheim Foundation (1988), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2010), she is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, the Society of Antiquaries of London, and the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the Visiting Committee of the Manuscript Department of the Morgan Library & Museum. She is a longtime supporter of the American Trust for the British Library.

Lecture and Q & A in the Grolier Club’s main exhibition space followed by a reception.

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