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  • The illuminated manuscript Book of Hours (detail)

Illuminated manuscripts form the largest and most comprehensive repository of medieval art we have today, surviving in vast numbers, and often intact, through the iconoclasm and turmoil of the Protestant Reformation, while other works of art – wall paintings, panel paintings, stained glass and sculpture – were defaced or destroyed. The Fitzwilliam Museum’s collection of illuminated manuscripts is one of the finest in the world. It is also the most important museum-held collection after the Vatican. Spanning a period of 700 years, from the 9th – 16th centuries, every school of European illumination is represented. From 30 July – 30 December, some of the most beautiful – including a selection bequeathed by the Museum’s Founder, Richard, Seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam - will form the focus of a major new exhibition, COLOUR: the Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts. Over the next few weeks, a series of posts will highlight the research underpinning both the exhibition and other major projects in the Fitzwilliam’s Department of Manuscripts and Printed Books.