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Exhibitions | Past

The Wormsley Library
A Personal Selection by Sir Paul Getty, K.B.E.

January 27 through May 2, 1999

Much like Pierpont Morgan a century ago, Sir Paul Getty spent twenty-five years assembling an extraordinary library of illuminated manuscripts, early printed books, historic bookbindings, and later illustrated books and calligraphic manuscripts, along with drawings and paintings. Spanning the seventh to the late twentieth centuries, the collection is housed in a splendid structure in the English countryside at Wormsley, Buckinghamshire.

Over one hundred masterpieces from this renowned collection were on view at the Morgan in The Wormsley Library: A Personal Selection by Sir Paul Getty, K.B.E. Highlights included a luxurious twelfth-century Gradual from Ottobeuren monastery, the earliest illustrated manuscript of the Life of St. Thomas Becket, a rare copy of William Caxton's edition of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the exquisite "Hours of Adrien Gouffier," the Psalter Anne Boleyn used when she was mistress to Henry VIII, Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake, and Sheila Water's calligraphic manuscript of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood. Also of particular note was the extensive selection of fine bookbindings, including important sixteenth-century examples created for Jean Grolier and Sir Thomas Wotton. The assortment of bindings ranged from medieval examples of plain sheepskin over boards to twentieth-century masterpieces by Paul Bonet and Pierre-Lucien Martin, demonstrating Sir Paul's collecting focus—the art of the book.

The Wormsley Library: A Personal Selection by Sir Paul Getty, K.B.E. was organized by The Pierpont Morgan Library with the cooperation of Sir Paul Getty, K.B.E.


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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.