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October 29, 2021

Gospel Book, in Latin, Germany, Helmarshausen, ca. 1120–40, J. Paul Getty Museum.

Imperial Splendor: The Art of the Book in the Holy Roman Empire, ca. 800-1500 at the Morgan Library and Museum focuses on manuscript production in the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages – a vastly overlooked but nonetheless impressive chapter in medieval art history. Manuscripts, designed to educate, entertain, and embody the sacred, are considered one of the most luxurious forms of artmaking from the Middle Ages. Intended to impress and dazzle viewers during the Middle Ages, they still captivate audiences today.

This exhibition is the first major presentation of this subject in the English-speaking world. It features over seventy manuscripts from collections across the country, arranged chronologically starting with the reforms of Charlemagne and ending with the impact of Albrecht Dürer and humanism on the arts of the book. Throughout three sections, the exhibition introduces visitors to the history of manuscript production, including key political and stylistic moments throughout the Middle Ages. The exhibition also highlights how manuscripts served as vehicles of knowledge, power, and propaganda, in addition to their function as ritual and ceremonial objects, and the role of the aristocratic elite in the production and patronage of these manuscripts.

Imperial Splendor will be on view at the Morgan Library until January 23, 2022. For more information, please visit