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The Art of Western European Manuscripts in the 5th - 16th Centuries

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Western European Manuscripts in the 5th - 16th Centuries

  The Art of Western European Manuscripts in the 5th - 16th Centuries

On 15 March 2005, the State Hermitage and the National Library of Russia opened an exhibition devoted to Western European manuscripts from the 5th - 16th centuries. The core collection in the Hermitage consists of extremely valuable manuscripts from the Tsarskoye Selo Arsenal, the Baron Stieglitz School of Technical Design, and also from the A.P. Bazilevsky collection and library of the Golitsyn princely family. A significant portion of the manuscripts held by the National Library of Russia is drawn from the collections of P.P. Dubrovsky, P.K. Sukhtelen and the Weissenau monastery in Germany.

The passion for collecting manuscripts in Russia dates back to the reign of Catherine the Great. This was the time when collections were assembled by the Counts Stroganov, Princes Golitsyn and Yusupov, and by the secretary of the Russian embassy in France, P.P. Dubrovsky. During his period of service abroad, Peter Petrovich Dubrovsky (1754-1816) ŮÓllected around 400 medieval manuscripts. In 1805 he donated the manuscripts to the Imperial Public Library, where his collection became the basis of the "Manuscript Depository." Dubrovsky served as curator of the depository from 1805 to 1812 and organized the preservation of a collection put together by Polish aristocrats, the Zapusky brothers.

In 1852, some 175 manuscripts were transferred from the Imperial Public Library to the Imperial Hermitage, where they were displayed for a decade in the Manuscript Hall of the New Hermitage. In 1862 they were returned to the Imperial Public Library.

Today the State Hermitage and the National Library of Russia possess a very rich collection of Western European medieval manuscripts. These are mainly of French and Flemish origin; there are significantly fewer from Italy and Germany. This correlation is maintained in the exhibition as well. Visitors will become acquainted with medieval manuscripts of Western Europe in all their diversity.

The exhibition is rounded out by works of applied art which provide an understanding of the circumstances in which the manuscripts were created.

The State Hermitage and the National Library of Russia have prepared a scholarly illustrated catalogue which is published by the ARS Publishing House. Director of the State Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky and General Director of the National Library of Russia V.N. Zaitsev have provided introductory remarks to this publication.

The curators of the exhibition are E.I. Makarova, director, and O.G. Zimina, deputy director, of the State Hermitage's Research Library; as well as M. Yu. Liubimova, director, and L.I. Kiseleva, senior researcher, of the Manuscript Department of the National Library of Russia.

See also: Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art
Louvre Museum, Paris
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

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