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Illuminating the Renaissance



Some of the most stunning works of art of the Renaissance are assembled in Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe. Flemish illuminators transformed the appearance of the illustrated page with a new naturalism and scintillating illusionistic details that captured the imaginations of art collectors across Europe. This international exhibition is the first comprehensive look at the greatest epoch in Flemish illumination. To complement Illuminating the Renaissance, the Getty presents an array of related exhibitions and public programs that offer additional avenues to learn, discover, and appreciate the brilliant Renaissance tradition of manuscript illumination. The Getty will also publish a richly illustrated catalog to accompany the exhibition. With nearly 400 images, the catalog will be the first monographic treatment of the subject.

All events are FREE and are held in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. Seating reservations are required. For reservations and information, please call 310-440-7300 or visit Tickets are available on-site or by phone.


Burgundian Rulers, Flemish Illuminated Manuscripts, and a Fresh Perspective on the Renaissance
Thomas Kren, curator of manuscripts, J. Paul Getty Museum, looks at the artists and powerful patrons who helped create a new style of Flemish manuscript illumination. The style began in the 1470s and remained popular across Europe over the next 90 years. The Exhibitions Pavilion will be open until 9:00 p.m. for this event.
Thursday, June 26, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

A Taste for Flanders: Manuscript Illumination and the English Elite
Janet Backhouse, former curator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library, discusses the role of English patronage in the development of Flemish illumination, both how it spurred the production of manuscripts in Flanders and how it influenced collecting practices in England.
Thursday, July 24, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Illuminating Dress at the Burgundian and Hapsburg Courts Margaret Scott, head of history of dress, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, discusses the exhibition.
Thursday, August 7, 7:00-8:00 p.m.

Contemporary artist Tom Knechtel discusses how Flemish artists captured a sense of daily life during the Renaissance in their works.
Friday, July 25
L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan gives a Point-of-View talk on "proto-cinematic" qualities in Flemish manuscripts.
Friday, August 8

6:00 and 7:30 p.m. in the Exhibitions Pavilion. Sign up at the Museum Information Desk beginning at 4:30 p.m.

Join a Getty curator or education specialist in the Exhibitions Pavilion for an Illuminating the Renaissance gallery talk.
Daily, beginning June 24, 1:30 p.m. No reservations required.

Curator's Gallery Talks
Richard Gay, assistant curator of manuscripts
Friday, June 27
Thomas Kren, curator of manuscripts
Friday, July 11
Elizabeth Morrison, assistant curator of manuscripts
Friday, July 25
Scot McKendrick, curator of manuscripts, the British Library
Date to be determined.
These one-hour talks are held in the Exhibitions Pavilion at 1:30 p.m. Sign up at the Information Desk in the Museum Entrance Hall beginning at noon.


Family Music Concert
Musical Superheroes
Featuring members of Musica Angelica, this free concert introduces children and their families to the world of ancient Greek and Roman mythology and to the world of Renaissance music and dance. A colorfully costumed trio of soprano, tenor, and lutenist performs songs, dances, and instrumental music from the Renaissance era. The highly interactive program calls on listeners to participate by singing "ground-basses," melodic and harmonic patterns that serve as the underpinnings of many early masterpieces. Music by Alfonso Ferrabosco, Thomas Campian, John Dowland, John Danyel, and other Renaissance masters is performed.
Saturday, June 28, 2:00 p.m. Reservations begin May 25 at 9:00 a.m.

Gordon Getty Concert
Sounds of the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Polyphony
The acclaimed early music ensemble Musica Angelica, led by music director Michael Eagan, presents a program featuring motets and chansons by the great Renaissance composer Josquin des Pres and works by Guillaume Dufay, Jacob Obrecht, Adrian Willaert, and Cipriano da Rore, among others.
Tickets $20; students and seniors $15
Saturday, June 28, 8:00 p.m.

Drop by as artist Sylvana Barrett demonstrates the art of manuscript illumination.
Thursdays: July 10, 17, 24, and 31, and August 7
Sundays: July 13, 20, and 27, and August 3 and 10
1:00-3:00 p.m.
Museum Courtyard

Studio/Gallery Course: Manuscript Illumination
Join artist and instructor Sylvana Barrett for this two-part workshop and gallery tour focusing on the art of manuscript illumination. Participants will create a small page using traditional materials, including hand-made paint, gold leaf, and parchment. Course fee $55; students $40. Limited to 25 participants; call 310-440-7300 to enroll.
Tuesday, June 17 and 24, 1:00-5:00 p.m., Museum Studios
Tuesday, July 1 and 8, 1:00-5:00 p.m., Museum Studios
Reservations begin May 25 at 9 a.m.

The Renaissance in all its pageantry and finery comes to life at the Getty Center with special days of celebration featuring music, dance, theater, crafts, and interactive workshops. As always, admission to the Getty Center and Getty Family Festivals is FREE. Produced by Community Arts Resources.
Saturday, June 21, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Museum Courtyard
Saturday, August 2, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Museum Courtyard

The curators of Illuminating the Renaissance are joined by Los Angeles artist Tom Knechtel and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan on an audio tour of the exhibition.
Available in the Entrance Hall for $3.

The Getty will publish a comprehensive and richly illustrated catalog, Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, to accompany the exhibition. Wall text in the exhibition will reference relevant catalog entries with page numbers so that those interested in learning more can use the catalog as a guide. Written and edited by Thomas Kren, curator of manuscripts at the Getty Museum, and Scot McKendrick, curator of manuscripts at the British Library, London, the 600-page book with 232 color and 153 black-and-white illustrations will be the first monographic treatment of the subject. Contributors include Maryan W. Ainsworth, curator of European paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; independent scholar Catherine Reynolds; and Elizabeth Morrison, assistant curator of manuscripts at the Getty Museum. It will be available in June 2003 in hardcover for $125.00 and in paperback for $55.00 in the Getty Museum Bookstore, online at, or by calling 800-223-3431 or 310-440-7059.

Explore the intricate beauty and exquisite details of illuminated manuscripts at the specially created Web site for the exhibition at With zooming technology, the Web site draws you closer to the magnificent manuscripts, allowing you to see even the tiniest detail. Angels, flowers, and even the parchment's hair follicles are visible in stunning clarity. Examine the color and intricacy of these books up close, and learn how they were created and used. Find out more about the artists, patrons, and fashions of the period from a user-friendly interface.


The Making of a Medieval Book
May 20, 2003 - September 28, 2003 Part of the popular "Making of" series, which explores the historical techniques behind various art forms, this installation examines the materials and methods used to create the lavishly illuminated manuscripts produced in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Examples from the Getty's collection of medieval manuscripts are used to illustrate the process, which begins with the preparation of animal skin to make parchment (or vellum), continues through the writing and often elaborate painting stages, and ends with the binding of the volume

Picturing the Natural World
June 17, 2003 - September 7, 2003
The 16th-century manuscript Mira calligraphiae monumenta (Model Book of Calligraphy) is a brilliant and inventive example of the period's interest in representing every detail of the natural world. This exhibition focuses on the manuscript and places it in the context of a number of other nature studies, both artistic and scientific. Featured are works that cover an extensive period of examination from 1450 to 1800. Included are paintings and drawings from the Museum's collections and printed books from the Getty Research Institute. One of the most popular manuscripts at the Getty, the Mira calligraphiae monumenta was written by Georg Bocskay and later illuminated by Joris Hoefnagel in the 16th century.


Transforming Tradition: Reflections of Ancient Art in Medieval Manuscripts
September 23, 2003 - November 30, 2003
Transforming Tradition: Reflections of Ancient Art in Medieval Manuscripts explores how manuscript illuminators in the Middle Ages appropriated themes and motifs of ancient visual culture and turned them to their own uses. By pairing ancient objects with medieval manuscripts from the Getty's permanent collection, the display illustrates how manuscript illuminators responded to the heritage of antiquity, adapting ancient motifs to a new medium, to new artistic purposes, and to a new religion. The ancient material, which includes Greek, Etruscan, and Roman objects, dates from the sixth century B.C. to the first century A.D. The manuscripts—all northern European—date from the 9th to the 15th century.

Gothic Illumination (working title)
December 16, 2003 - March 7, 2004
This display celebrates the achievements of Gothic manuscript illumination in northern Europe from around 1200 to 1350. Characteristic aspects of illumination from the period include the lavish use of gold leaf, an extraordinary sense of breadth and volume, and the employment of the painted letter and the margins of the page as a field for figural decoration. As shown in this exhibition, Gothic manuscripts contain some of the most innovative and beautiful painting to survive from the Middle Ages.

Early Medieval and Romanesque Manuscript Illumination (working title)
March 23, 2004 - June 13, 2004
Focusing on the period in which characteristically medieval forms of book decoration came into being, this exhibition of manuscripts drawn from the Getty's permanent collection features highlights from the reign of Charlemagne (around 800), through the rise of the universities in Europe around 1200, when scribes and illuminators produced manuscripts of great variety and beauty. The display introduces the texts that circulated in the period, and the range of painted decoration that embellished these texts, from the stately narrative scenes found in Ottonian liturgical books, to the exuberant initials inhabited by biting dogs characteristic of 12th-century illumination at Montecassino.

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Thea M. Page
Getty Communications Dept.

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Grant Program. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs are based at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

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