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Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Medieval Art

The Museum's collection of medieval and Byzantine art is among the most comprehensive in the world. Displayed in both the Main Building and in the Metropolitan's branch in northern Manhattan, The Cloisters museum and gardens, the collection encompasses the art of the Mediterranean and Europe from the fall of Rome in the fourth century to the beginning of the Renaissance in the early sixteenth century. It also includes pre-medieval European works of art created during the Bronze Age and early Iron Age.

In Season

A Flower to Remember

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is described as an annual weed that thrives on wastelands, roadsides, and neglected fields, and it is most famously associated with battlefields. As a denizen of disturbed lands, the poppy was one of the first and most striking colonizers of a trampled and scarred landscape. Its luminescent red flowers symbolize the blood of the fallen and serve as a reminder of the beauty of life amidst the devastation of war. Dubbed Flanders, or remembrance, poppy, the corn poppy is a symbol of the First World War in contemporary culture.

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In Season

A Perfect Platform, Part Two: Outside the Walls

Bryan Stevenson, Gardener, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2015

Earlier this season, the gardens department here at the The Cloisters museum and gardens decided to freshen up and expand our cultivated hops (Humulus lupulus). In last week's post, I explained the precedent for vertical trellises in late medieval and early modern horticulture and how we used this to construct a vertical trellis for the hops in the Bonnefont Herb Garden. Today I'll outline the creation of a new bed outside the museum's walls for several young hops plants started in the greenhouse and the construction of a structure for the plants to climb.

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In Season

A Perfect Platform, Part One: Building in Bonnefont

Bryan Stevenson, Gardener, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, August 7, 2015

Earlier this season, we decided to freshen up and expand the cultivated hops (Humulus lupulus) at The Cloisters museum and gardens. Managing Horticulturist Caleb Leech, Gardener Yvette Weaver, and I sought to construct a new structure on which to train the hops in the Bonnefont Herb Garden to grow, and to install a new bed in the grounds outside the Museum's walls for additional hops cultivation. We will share the process for accomplishing both projects over two blog posts. Today I will discuss how the gardens department went about constructing the new hops trellis in the Bonnefont Herb Garden, and the story of the new hops bed will be explained in a later post.

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Now at the Met

Why Vestments? An Introduction to Liturgical Textiles of the Post-Byzantine World

Warren T. Woodfin, Kallinikeion Assistant Professor of Art History, Queens College, City University of New York

Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015

The exhibition Liturgical Textiles of the Post-Byzantine World, now on view through November 1, 2015, presents a selection of notable liturgical vestments that communicate the continuing prestige of the Orthodox Church and its clergy in the centuries following the fifteenth-century fall of Byzantine Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. From a strictly theological viewpoint, vestments are hardly a necessity for Christian worship. Liturgical scholars are largely in agreement that for the first several centuries of Christianity's existence, its clergy officiated at services wearing the normal "street dress" of the Roman world. Only gradually did these items of clothing take on special significance as liturgical vestments, to be worn only during worship.

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In Season

Reclaiming Saint James

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, July 31, 2015

In 2014, over two hundred thousand enthusiasts walked at least part of the road to the shrine of Saint James in northern Spain, and more than two-and-a-half million visited the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. My more energetic colleagues at The Cloisters lead organized trips to Santiago on behalf of the Museum, and the Met produced Journey to Saint James: A Pilgrim's Guide (1993), a film about the pilgrimage, in the 1990s.

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In Season

A Tasty Take on Medieval Rosary Beads

Hannah Holden, Guest Blogger

Posted: Friday, July 24, 2015

As part of his recent internship in the MediaLab, college student Kevin Yoo created Medieval Treasures and Chocolate Pleasures, an original, technology-driven project inspired by the Met's collection in which he 3D-printed medieval rosary beads in sugar and gypsum.

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RumiNations

Recipe for an Exhibition: The Installation of Pattern, Color, Light

Kate Justement, Museum Seminar (MuSe) Intern, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Monday, July 20, 2015

As a recent college graduate and current summer intern in the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Islamic Art, the past weeks have flown by, filled with new and exciting experiences, projects, and opportunities. Among these, I have been fortunate enough to observe some of the curation and the full installation of the exhibition Pattern, Color, Light: Architectural Ornament in the Near East (500–1000), now on view through October 25 in The Hagop Kevorkian Fund Special Exhibitions Gallery (gallery 458). This exhibition highlights architectural ornament from Near Eastern monuments, which exist today in fragmented form from numerous walls, ceilings, and floors. These fragments and their stylistic motifs crossed rival empires and illuminate common aesthetic trends of the period from 500 to 1000 A.D. The Department of Islamic Art started working on this exhibition about nine months ago, but by witnessing the final step of the process—the installation—I have a new appreciation and understanding of what it takes to coordinate a production such as this.

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In Season

Celebrating Life and Death with Rubies

C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2015

For those of you who are celebrating birthdays this month, we are featuring two especially fascinating rings from the Griffin Collection. Both incorporate rubies, which is the birthstone for July, and hidden chambers, but more on that later. First, let's consider the ruby.

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In Season

The Ghastly Smell of the Dragon Arum

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015

Video of flies swarming around the dragon arum at The Cloisters. Videos by Andrew Winslow

The Dracunculus vulgaris, or dragon arum, is a favorite plant at The Cloisters. It is fly-pollinated and produces the smell of rotting meat in order to draw the insects to it. We had hoped that our dragon arum would bloom over the Garden Days weekend, but it kept us waiting for a few extra days.

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In Season

Preserving a Natural Landmark

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Museum is extremely pleased to provide an update on a project that threatened the extraordinary and long-protected viewshed of the Hudson River from The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, and the surrounding neighborhoods.

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In Season

Founding Father

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 12, 2015

At the heart of the Saint-Guilhem Cloister lies the heavily embroidered legend of the man who founded it—Saint William (Guilhem in the local Occitan dialect). A painted coffret on loan to The Cloisters depicts an early and colorful episode of his story; the stone cloister reflects the final, more sober chapter of the life of Guilhem.

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In Season

Garden Days at The Cloisters

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 4, 2015

Join us for Garden Days at The Cloisters, a daylong program of events, this Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7. Our horticultural staff will answer questions in the gardens throughout the day and lead tours specific to this year's theme: the importance and use of spices in medieval culture. The program also includes garden tours, a family workshop, and a talk by food writer and historian Michael Krondl.

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In Season

Regal Rheums

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015

For those who appreciate its tart flavor, rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a quintessential early summer treat. Stewed with strawberries, infused in summer spritzers, or preserved in jams and chutneys, this vegetable is one of the "fruits" of the season.

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In Season

Transforming the Glass Gallery—Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection

C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Monday, May 18, 2015

Spring has finally arrived in New York, and the gardens of The Cloisters are filling out quickly, announcing their return with tender shoots and splashes of color. Inside the museum, we have opened the new exhibition Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection, now on view in the Glass Gallery through October 18, 2015. This exhibition showcases a group of exceptional rings assembled by a private collector alongside works of art drawn from the holdings of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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In Season

Welcoming the Growing Mandrake

Yvette Weaver, Gardener, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last summer, in mid-July, I was handed the once-fragrant fruit of our mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), and it was bursting with seeds that were ready to be sown. This was my opportunity to propagate the legendary plant depicted in Pan's Labyrinth and Harry Potter.

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In Season

Tales and a Tune of the Willow

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015

Within the past few weeks the grip of a long winter has loosened, and we have turned our attention toward our trees. Recent visitors might have noticed that our consulting arborist was hard at work pollarding the crab apples in the Cuxa Cloister. She'll have moved on to the trees in the orchard and our beloved veteran fruit trees in the Bonnefont Herb Garden by the time this post is published. We'll also be undertaking the first coppicing of our willows, a topic introduced in my previous post.

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In Season

A Blanket of Gold

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2015

The winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) has just revealed its cheerful, yellow blooms. Most years, winter aconite is one of the earliest winter-blooming bulbs, appearing in January and February, but this year's cold temperatures have delayed its arrival.

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In Season

Here I Sette My Thynge to Sprynge

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015

Although the vernal equinox is mere days away, this week is our first taste of spring. For most people, the start of spring is a celebrated event that signals longer days and warmer temperatures. In medieval Europe, spring was considered a highly auspicious time; in many parts of Western Europe, it marked the beginning of a new year and included one of the most important occasions, the Feast of the Annunciation (see "Lady Day" [March 25, 2011] on The Medieval Garden Enclosed).

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Reflecting on the Winchester Bible

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015

In the course of the last three months, we have had the privilege of exhibiting the Winchester Bible—one of the masterpieces of medieval painting—and seeing it reunited with the Morgan Leaf, one of most spectacular paintings from the year 1200 and originally part of the Bible. Because of the possibility of displaying multiple openings of volume one of the Bible and three bi-folios of volume two—currently in the midst of conservation treatment and rebinding—one was able to compare and contrast the multiple artists who created this special work.

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In Season

A Treasury for The Cloisters

Christine E. Brennan, Senior Research Associate, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2015

Today, visitors to The Cloisters museum and gardens marvel at precious works of gold, silver, and ivory in the Treasury. But this richly furnished gallery was not part of the original design of The Cloisters. It owes its inception to two individuals: Museum Curator James Rorimer and the art dealer Joseph Brummer (both pictured above).

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In Circulation

A Scholar's Passion: The William H. Forsyth Papers at The Cloisters

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Cloisters Library and Archives is pleased to announce that it has completed processing the papers of one of the Museum's founding figures, curator William H. Forsyth (1907–2003). The finding aid can be found on the Digital Collections site.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Winchester Bible and Europe

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The team of artists producing the Winchester Bible, on view through March 8, were among the most original and inventive in Europe before 1200. The display of the Bible within the Museum's collection of contemporary medieval works enhances the picture of the larger setting and warrants a closer look. The connection between the Winchester Bible and Spain, explored in an earlier blog post, is one of the more fascinating instances of artistic migration. Let's explore three others that look to Burgundy in France, the Meuse Valley in Belgium, and Sicily.

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In Season

Whence Willow Wattle?

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2015

An attractive feature of the Bonnefont Herb Garden in winter and early spring is the distinctive wattle used in the raised beds. Medieval gardens, orchards, and property boundaries were enclosed in a variety of ways, including by hedges and wattle fences. In the Bonnefont Herb Garden, our wattle, or hurdles (pictured above), of various heights edge the beds and support the plants. The hurdles and supports are made from willow from the Somerset Levels (wetlands) in England; willow has been grown and woven in Somerset since the late Iron Age. Willow work is still commercially produced in the region and the same family has made our wattle elements for many years.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Entire Bible in a Single Letter: The Genesis Initial

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Each book of the Winchester Bible, on view through March 8, begins with an oversized, decorated first letter called an initial. The initials' decorations vary from fancy foliate designs to narrative scenes framed within the letter itself. The initial prefacing the Winchester Bible's book of Genesis is especially complex in its composition because it serves an extraordinary purpose: to encompass the entire Bible—and with it the entire history of salvation—in a single composition. This ambitious endeavor presents a way of thinking about the Bible that would have been second nature to its original readers, a community of Benedictine monks.

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In Season

Snowy Days at The Cloisters

Andrew Winslow, Senior Departmental Technician, The Cloisters museum and gardens

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015

After trudging to work through Fort Tryon Park in the morning after a heavy snowfall, the first thing I do is grab my camera and head straight to some of my favorite spots in The Cloisters museum and gardens. First, up to the top of the tower to look out over the park, the river, and the George Washington Bridge.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Morgan Leaf and the Winchester Bible

William M. Voelkle, Senior Research Curator at the Morgan Library and Museum

Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Morgan Leaf (pictured above) was the last and greatest single leaf acquired by financier John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913). (Morgan's collection later became the Morgan Library and Museum.) The twelfth-century Winchester Bible, the largest and finest English Romanesque Bible, on view at the Met through March 8, was begun in around 1160, but was never finished. Although full-page miniatures were not originally planned for the Bible, drawings for four of them were made. Only two were finished: those on the Morgan Leaf.

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In Season

A Tale of Two Collections: The Cloisters and Glencairn Museums

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Cloisters museum and gardens has many devotees, but I wonder how many of its visitors know about the Glencairn Museum, located in Bryn Athyn, just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Glencairn, like The Cloisters, is home to an excellent collection of medieval art on view in a building inspired by medieval architecture. As a current Met fellow and former Glencairn fellow, I have had ample opportunity to study the histories of these two marvelous collections, both of which took shape during the early twentieth century. Together they constitute an important chapter in the story of collecting medieval art in the United States, and I am continually impressed by the close relationship between them.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Spanish Connection: The Winchester Bible and Spain

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It is a common misconception that people living during the Middle Ages rarely traveled. In fact, many did—to go on a pilgrimage, to trade commercial goods, or to forge political ties in far-off lands. Artists also traveled, taking their own styles, techniques, and ideas with them. Yet, because so little information about medieval artists has survived, especially from the earlier Middle Ages, we know little about their itineraries from when they did venture out into the world. The Met's exhibition of the Winchester Bible, however, allows me to highlight one fascinating instance in which we actually can track the movement of a specific workshop of painters from Winchester in southern England to a monastery in Aragon, northern Spain. That's quite a distance to cover!

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In Season

A Winter Walk through Fort Tryon Park

Jonathan Landsman, Landscape Coordinator, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015

"How do you get to The Cloisters?" For me and the two full-time gardeners charged with the care of Fort Tryon Park's sixty-seven acres of forest and two historic gardens, this is the question we are asked the most. Our answer changes from season to season: the paths don't move, but the flowers do, and we always guide visitors through the most beautiful experience the season offers.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Conservation Concerns: The Care of Medieval Manuscripts

Yana van Dyke, Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The most common conservation issue related to the care and preservation of medieval manuscripts—such as the pages from the Winchester Bible, on view in the exhibition The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art through March 8—is the loss of cohesion in the paint layer. Most often, flaking paint is due to the dehydration of the binding vehicle used in the original mixing of the paint.

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In Season

Dyeing for Color

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015

In the midst of ice and wind, I retreat to the warmth of the indoors at The Cloisters museum and gardens. I long for growth, and daydream about the upcoming spring. And I write about color now to invigorate myself against a possible winter slump.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Making of the Winchester Bible

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One of the most ambitious artistic enterprises of twelfth-century England, the Winchester Bible offers a critical glimpse into the process of its creation, in part, because it was left unfinished.

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In Season

New Glasses for the Table

Tim Husband, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015

The Cloisters museum and gardens came relatively late to the collection of late medieval glass vessels. The reasons are twofold: first, because very few of these objects have survived—they were everyday household objects, and fragile ones at that—and second, because collectors and scholars were slow to appreciate the elegant simplicity and skillful fabrication of these modest, utilitarian objects. The first glass vessel entered The Cloisters Collection in 1977 and, like all those to follow, was a product of the German-speaking world of central Europe, a vast region that supported an extensive glass-making industry. The three recent acquisitions discussed here significantly enhance the collection's holdings of these appealing tablewares.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Motion and Emotion: Master of the Leaping Figures

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Old Testament book of Jeremiah begins with a frightened cry. Overwhelmed that God has chosen him as a mouthpiece, the young Jeremiah protests, "Ah, ah, ah." These three repeated syllables, simple and unassuming on the page, express the future prophet's trepidation—which is almost panic—toward the enormous task ahead of him. Taking his cue from this utterance of fear, one of the main artists responsible for the illuminations of the Winchester Bible chose to preface the book of Jeremiah with an image of this dramatic moment, eloquently capturing all of Jeremiah's instability and anxiety. His portrayal is one of the most affecting in the Winchester Bible, and its inclusion in the Met's exhibition offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the medieval depiction of emotion through the eyes of one particularly imaginative artist.

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In Season

Cryptogams in the Nooks and Crannies

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015

The details that artists choose to embellish in their works offer a small glimpse into what they value. Such is the case with the Gerard David (ca. 1455–1523) painting The Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard, shown above. I examined this Nativity scene in the course of my research on the important plant stuffs associated with the medieval Christmastide feast. In this case, the sheaf of wheat as a symbol of the Eucharist was the object of my attention, but what piqued my curiosity was the variety of flora illustrated in the cracks of the walls.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Heroes of the Old Testament: Picturing the Story of David and Goliath

C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art offers an unprecedented opportunity to examine one of the great surviving monuments of twelfth-century art. Presented together with the Morgan Leaf, which is reunited for the first time with the book to which it once belonged, the exhibition occupies the heart of the Museum's medieval European galleries. This setting offers an ideal context for exploring the Winchester Bible.

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In Season

Scenes of the Season

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, January 2, 2015

The Belles Heures of Jean de France, duc de Berry, is an extraordinary illuminated manuscript and one of the great treasures of The Cloisters Collection. It is also relevant to the holiday season, as a few of its astonishingly beautiful illuminations depict scenes from the Christmas story.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Who Ordered the Winchester Bible?

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Deluxe giant Bibles were prestige works for major ecclesiastical institutions, but there is no record, written or otherwise, that clearly identifies the patron of the Winchester Bible. We assume that the bishop of Winchester, Henry of Blois (about 1098–1171) patronized its creation since he was of privileged background and the younger brother of King Stephen of England (r. 1135–54) and grandson of William the Conqueror. As a child oblate dedicated to become a monk at the great Burgundian abbey of Cluny, he quickly rose in the ranks of the Church to become abbot of Glastonbury in 1126, the richest abbey in Norman England, and in 1129 the bishop of Winchester, the richest cathedral in the land.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

What Is a Giant Bible?

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Giant Bibles such as the Winchester Bible, the subject of the current exhibition at the Metropolitan, were among the most ambitious enterprises for major medieval scriptoria. They are massive volumes containing the Holy Scriptures as they were translated into Latin by Saint Jerome (ca. 342–60), and the great age of their creation was the later eleventh and twelfth centuries. Giant Bibles probably started out as prestigious papal gifts—several were produced in Rome itself—but they quickly became more widespread.

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In Season

Among the Leaves So Green

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Cloisters museum and gardens will be decorated for the holidays through January 6. Today's post is intended to provide historical context for the designs, explain how the decorations are made, and to entice readers to visit and see them in person.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Winchester as an Artistic Center

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Winchester Bible has resided in the place of its making since the Middle Ages, and has left for only brief periods of time for such occasions as its current exhibition at the Metropolitan. It is the centerpiece of the holdings of the Winchester Cathedral Library. Marking the high point of manuscript production at Winchester, the great Bible was the culmination of a long tradition of creating sumptuous manuscripts central to the spiritual life of the cathedral and its affiliated monastic communities. Before larger European cities became the driving force for artistic production, places like Winchester—which was both the royal seat of power and a spiritual and pilgrimage center—fostered the creation of amazing works for many years.

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In Season

A Cloisters Cartoon

Mortimer Lebigre, Graphic Designer, Design Department

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Welcome to The Winchester Bible

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome to the exhibition blog for The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art, opening today. Throughout the run of the exhibition, curators, conservators, and outside scholars will explore a variety of topics related to the display of this magnificent work and will attempt to present a fuller picture of its visual and thematic richness, artistic issues, and historical context. Some of the planned topics include giant Bibles as an art form, the patronage and production of the Winchester Bible, individual masters who worked on the book, and issues of conservation. We hope, through these weekly posts, to develop a fuller understanding of this important Bible, raise new questions, and inspire conversation.

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In Season

Cobill Nuts, Christmastide, and The Cloisters

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmastide, the medieval celebration of Christmas, provides us with the opportunity to decorate The Cloisters with traditional materials to celebrate the season. As regular visitors and readers know, the decorative designs and elements are based on medieval evidence and are fabricated almost entirely from fresh seasonal materials. Among them is the familiar hazelnut.

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In Season

The Portal of Villeloin-Coulangé at The Cloisters: Attribution After Eighty Years of Anonymity

Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens; and Nancy Wu, Museum Educator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Every curator, at one point or another, has to grapple with questions of provenance. In the case of medieval stone sculpture, works often come to us in fragmentary states, roughly removed from their original sites during revolutionary events, or cautiously salvaged from monuments that have not been cared for over time. Conservators, scientists, and art historians often collaborate to solve questions of geographic origin and attribution.

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Teen Blog

What's Your Flavor?

Alexandra, Former High School Intern

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014

Art is like ice cream. (A weird analogy, but bear with me.) Every ice cream lover has a preference; some like chocolate, others vanilla. The same holds true of art. Some like Impressionist painting, others prefer medieval armor.

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In Season

On Voyages and Vessels

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014

But if you let the gourd stay
Enjoying the summer sun on its parent tree and only
set your blade to it late in the year, then after scooping
the flesh from its ponderous belly and shaving the sides
on a nimble lathe, you can put it to practical use as a vessel.
A pint this mighty paunch will sometimes hold, sometimes half a gallon or more; and if you seal your jar with gummy pitch it will keep wine good for many a day.

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In Season

The Curious Tale of the "Vegetable Lamb"

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014

Levant cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) is a beautiful plant. I was quickly charmed by its flawless, creamy white flowers, which bloom in our Medieval Artists and Craftsmen bed through the summer months. This economically important fiber plant belongs to the Mallow family (Malvaceae), and is a relative of some of my garden favorites, like the hollyhock (Alcea rosea) and common mallow (Malva sylvestris), both of which are medieval and grown in the medicinal bed.

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In Season

In Anticipation of "Soft-Dying" Days

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014

I have borrowed an evocative description of the season from the great English Romantic poet John Keats. His "Ode to Autumn" (see below) was written in September 1819 and published the following year, and it serves as an elegy to his career as a poet. Keats's personification of autumn reveals the progression from the ripening of summer fruit to the fall harvest, the fading of spring birdsong to the bleating of mature lambs.

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In Season

A Swim to The Cloisters

Carrie Rebora Barratt, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saturday, September 20, was a bright, sunny day, a perfect day for a late-summer swim. While many New Yorkers enjoyed the beaches and lakes that afternoon, an intrepid—some would say crazy—group of about 250 swimmers took their dip in the Hudson River, sliding in off the kayak pontoon at Pier 96, at 56th Street.

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