Twelve rare and precious illuminated manuscripts from the Kerry Stokes Collection are on display at the New Norcia Museum and Art Gallery, reports the community's website.
In an exhibition titled Celebrating Word and Image 1250 – 1600, the manuscripts feature exquisite miniatures and intricately decorated capitals and borders in gold, silver and lapis lazuli which testify both to the consummate skill of their creators and the wealth and prestige of the emperors, kings and dukes who owned them. They are alive with colour, detail and sometimes, a surprisingly risque sense of humour.
Ranging in date from 1250 to 1600, the manuscripts, which are being shown together for the first time, come from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Bohemia and Spain. To the careful observer, the variety of scripts and images reveals the different artistic traditions of their places of origin, while the collection as a whole tells a bigger story about the development of the book through the medieval era.
The collection includes manuscripts for study, the liturgy and personal prayer, but one especially engaging book from Nuremberg in the sixteenth century depicts the city’s butchers and patrician families celebrating a sensuous carnival just before the onset of the rigours of Lent. It is an extraordinary window into a lost world.
Leader of the Benedictine Community, Abbot John Herbert OSB, said that the monks were delighted to be hosting the exhibition.
'Illuminated manuscripts first developed in the monasteries of Western Europe so this exhibition is a perfect fit for New Norcia, Australia’s only monastic town. “It is a rare opportunity to see truly beautiful objects and we are very grateful to Mr Stokes for his generosity in sharing this rare collection,' said Abbot John.