Cambridge Illuminations

26 July to 11 December 2005
At Cambridge University Library and the Fitzwilliam Museum




The Cambridge Illuminations

The author in his study, at the beginning of St. Bonaventura’s treatise on the fourth book of the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Florence and Naples, 1484. CUL MS Gg.3.22, f. 1r.

The Middle Ages gave us the book as we know it today. In the course of the 4th century AD the papyrus scroll was replaced by the volume – first written on animal skin known as parchment, and later on paper. Preserving ancient history, literature, and science, manuscripts accommodated medieval religious and secular texts, and disseminated the works of the early Renaissance, of Dante, Petrarch, and Chaucer.

Cambridge is among the world’s richest treasuries of Western manuscripts. Collectively, the holdings of the Fitzwilliam Museum, the University Library, and the Colleges of Cambridge present the history of manuscript production from late antiquity to the Renaissance. Over 200 illuminated manuscripts from seventeen Cambridge libraries are displayed within eight thematic sections at the exhibition’s two venues, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the University Library.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Blackwell Green (A Member of the Heath Lambert Group), Cambridge Education, Cambridge University Press, Mr Gifford Combs, Sam Fogg, the Friends of Cambridge University Library, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, International Partners on behalf of Melvin Seiden, Ridgeons, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.