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Choirs of Angels: Painting in Italian Choir Books, 1300–1500
[adapted from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 66, no. 3 (Winter, 2009)]
Boehm, Barbara Drake (2008)
This title is in print.

The illuminated choir book is one of the great legacies of Western culture, a unique marriage of two great achievements of the Middle Ages—the illumination of books and the codified system of musical notation. Intended for monasteries and cathedrals half a millennium ago, these exquisite manuscripts are still captivating today. Most were removed from massive bound volumes in the Napoleonic era, and their brilliant colors and shining gold surfaces have attracted connoisseurs ever since. For the art historian, these illuminations bear witness to exceptional aesthetic accomplishment. For the musicologist, choir books provide a rich sources in the history of notation and the development of chant, the transcendent tonalities of which have great contemporary appeal. For the historian, choir books serve as primary sources in the study of the lives of religious communities and the philosophy and faith that infused medieval Europe. And most important, for visitors to the Museum, our choral manuscripts exemplify the extraordinary creativity of artists in Italy on the eve of the Renaissance.

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