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Press release

Northern European Manuscript Illuminations from Robert Lehman Collection to Go on View March 16

March 16–June 13, 2010

Fourteen rare and important manuscript illuminations from The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Robert Lehman Collection—ranging in date from the 13th through the 16th century and representing high points of the German, French, and Netherlandish schools of illumination—will be on view beginning March 16.

Among the works on display will be the masterpiece by the French illuminator Jean Fouquet (1420–1481), The Right Hand of God Protecting the Faithful against the Demons, from the Hours of Étienne Chevalier. This leaf comes from one of the most important illuminated manuscripts of the 15th century, and is especially famous for Fouquet's topographically accurate rendering of the Île de la Cité in the center of Paris, dominated by the façade of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

A Crucifixion by an artist close to the Housebook Master—one of the most important artists working in the Middle Rhine region of Germany in the second half of the 15th century—will also be shown. The Crucifixion leaf was probably once part of a lavishly illustrated manuscript (now in Berlin) made for Duke Friedrich von Simmern and his wife Margarethe, elector and electress Palatine; their coat of arms appears at the foot of the cross in the Lehman miniature.

Another highlight of the installation will be a leaf by the French artist Simon Marmion (1425–1489), one of the most esteemed illuminators and painters of his generation. The generous use of gold in The Holy Virgins Greeted by Christ as They Enter the Gates of Paradise, from the Breviary (liturgical book) of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York, hints at the wealth of their court.

According to an inscription on the magnificent Self-Portrait of Simon Bening (1483–1561), the Netherlandish artist completed the work at the age of 75. He shows himself pausing from his work, with a Virgin and Child in the drawing stage, propped up on an easel next to various painting materials. The depiction suggests a connection between Bening and Luke, the patron saint of painting, who is traditionally shown painting an image of the Virgin.

The installation coincides with the Museum's presentation of the exhibition The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry in the Robert Lehman Wing's court-level galleries nearby (March 2–June 13, 2010).

The exhibition is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Michel David-Weill Fund.

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February 23, 2010

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