Sacred Beauty

Saint Paul PreachingAfter our first prenatal appointment of the third trimester this morning, I went to see Sacred Beauty: Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts, a new exhibition at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. Supported by the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Divinity School, this exhibition features sixteen significant manuscript illuminations from the 14th to 16th centuries as well as other pieces of contemporary art from the Nasher collections arranged to accompany the manuscripts. Most of the illuminations are miniatures from devotional texts, including books of hours, although there were a couple of liturgical books for choir use as well. [S]acred texts were often decorated to instruct the viewer in spiritual ideas, but also to display the importance of religious texts themselves by giving them a visually stunning presentation…illumination specifically refers to the luminosity of the colors used, accompanied by gold (exhibition handout). Of special interest to me was the illuminated capital P of Saint Paul preaching (shown at left) in this Year of Saint Paul. I was also struck by the miniature of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (which was celebrated by the Church universal yesterday, February 2) as Michelle and I prepare to raise our own child in the illuminated life of faith. Visiting Sacred Beauty made for an enlightening and prayerful hour that was well worth the $5 general admission.

This Thursday evening (February 5) at 5:30 there is a gallery tour with the collector of the manuscripts, Robert Parsons. The exhibit will also be featured in the February 26 Art for All with Kerry McCarthy, professor of early music (7-9PM). The exhibit will remain open until the Fifth Sunday of Easter/Mothers’ Day, May 10.

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