Pages of Gold: Medieval Illuminations from the Morgan

June 19 through September 13, 2009
Image of Scenes from the Life of David

This exhibition comprised nearly sixty lavish single leaves, dating from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. Pierpont Morgan, the preeminent collector of complete medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, also acquired single pages, as did many collectors who developed an appreciation for these orphaned leaves during the nineteenth century. Leaves acquired over the last hundred years, including those of Italian, English, French, Flemish, German, Hungarian, and Spanish origin, were shown. A dozen of these leaves were on view for the first time.

The centerpiece of the exhibition was the finest leaf from the celebrated Winchester Bible, arguably the most lavish English Bible of its time. Made in Winchester during the last quarter of the twelfth century, it contains vivid scenes from the lives of Samuel and David and was the last leaf acquired by Pierpont Morgan before his death in 1913. Other works on view included leaves from a book made for Hungarian nobility, cuttings of initials and leaves from choir books illuminated by Silvestro dei Gherarducci, and works of the Spanish Forger, a twentieth-century medieval painter who successfully forged numerous medieval manuscripts and leaves.

This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of T. Robert Burke and Katherine States Burke, Melvin R. Seiden, and an anonymous donor.

Image Caption: 

Scenes from the Life of David, leaf from the Winchester Bible, illuminated by the Master of the Morgan Leaf. England, Winchester, Cathedral Priory of St. Swithin, ca. 1160-80. Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1912; MS M.619v.