Hidden in the collections of Philadelphia libraries is an unexpected treasure—a rich trove of more than 7,000 medieval and Renaissance miniature paintings showing religious scenes, classical tales, historical events, and medieval romances. Many have never been on public display, or even studied by scholars.
The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries, in collaboration with the museum and other exhibition partners, surveyed the holdings in area libraries and museums. More than eighty of the choicest objects were exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from March 10–May 13, 2001, and at the Frist Gallery for the Visual Arts, Nashville TN, from September 27, 2001–January 6, 2002.
Presented in this catalogue are eighty illuminated manuscripts and individual leaves and cuttings from manuscripts in Philadelphia's public collections. Important manuscript centers of medieval and Renaissance Europe are represented, as is almost every known type of early illuminated book: Bibles, Psalters, Books of Hours, a wide variety of liturgical manuscripts, and many types of literary and secular texts.