Here’s one small detail that’s gorgeous enough to be cover art. It’s from an illuminated book of chants for the Mass for Florence Cathedral, currently part of the exhibition Make A Joyful Noise at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta GA (USA). The lamb gets a place of honor as the emblem of the Wool Guild that supervised and subsidized the cathedral project.
Now let’s back up and put that lamb in context. Can you find it?
I can’t decide if I’m more transported by the heavenly blue, by the gold that’s glimmered through the centuries in candlelight and shadow, or by the intricate bird and flower drawings in the border. The three choir books in this exhibition have survived for over 500 years, much of that time in use.
Here’s another photo for context — these are not small books. In the 15th century, one illuminated book could take years to construct, making it too precious for individual use as a hymnal. These giant books were mounted on lecterns above eye-level for use by more than one person.
Now for a closer look. What more proof do we need that God is in the details? There’s an energy flowing through the dark inked lines that decorate the golden buds. They rhyme with the combs on the heads of the birds. It’s there again in the white lines that curl over colored leaves. The forms connect and entwine and meander, and somehow make me gladder than ever to be part of life on earth.
Another manuscript shows the wear of daily use — years upon years of fingers turning pages to sing the Hours — as well as water damage from the Nov 4 1966 flood which reached the Cathedral and many other historical treasures in Florence.
I’ve focused here on the manuscripts, but they’re just part of an exhibition that includes three of the marble panels from Luca Della Robbia’s organ loft, also from Florence Cathedral. The audio guides feature music from transcriptions of the medieval notation. Live performances will be scheduled throughout the exhibition, which is on view through January 11, 2015.
I’m already overloading this post, so I’ll just include a few more pictures and say “see it!” (the following photos of Luca della Robbia work courtesy of the High Museum of Art)
(If you’re reading this in email and have an extra minute, please click through to the blog for a better view of the marble sculpture.)
And yes, I’ve taken a little time off from downsizing but I’m still getting there bit by bit, and sometimes an ‘art fix’ is exactly what’s needed to get recharged. Um, too bad I won’t be finding any 500 year old illuminated manuscripts in my basement. Or at least I don’t think I will…
Have you had an art fix lately?
For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Art
For the High’s exhibition site