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Exhibitions/ Pen and Parchment

Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages

June 2–September 1, 2009

Exhibition Overview

With strokes of genius, artists in the Middle Ages explored the medium of drawing, creating a rich array of works ranging from spontaneous sketches to powerful evocations of spirituality to intriguing images of science and the natural world. This exhibition, the first to examine in depth the achievements of the medieval draftsman, includes many works that have never before been lent outside their home countries. Through some fifty examples created in settings as diverse as ninth-century monastic scriptoria to the fourteenth-century French court, the presentation considers the aesthetics, uses, and techniques of medieval drawings, mastered by artists working centuries before the dawn of the Renaissance. Early maps, artists' sketchbooks, and masterfully decorated manuscripts count among the important loans from American and European museums, and the great national, university, and monastic libraries of Europe.

Featured Media


The exhibition is made possible by the Michel David-Weill Fund.

Additional support is provided by Mrs. Alexandre P. Rosenberg.

The catalogue is made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.