New Publication: ‘Imperial Splendor: The Art of the Book in the Holy Roman Empire, 800–1500’, by Jeffrey F. Hamburger & Joshua O’Driscoll

This new book by Jeffrey F. Hamburger (Harvard University) and Joshua O’Driscoll (Morgan Library & Museum) accompanies their exhibition of the same title, ‘Imperial Splendor: The Art of the Book in the Holy Roman Empire, 800–1500,’ on view at the Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum in New York from Oct. 15, 2021 to Jan. 23, 2022.

Imperial Splendor offers a sweeping overview of manuscript production in the Holy Roman Empire, one of the most impressive chapters in the history of medieval art. While little known and rarely seen by the general public, these illuminated manuscripts count among the most luxurious works of art from the Middle Ages. Designed to edify, to entertain, and above all to embody the sacred, these manuscripts and their spectacular illuminations retain the ability to dazzle and inspire modern audiences just as they did those of the Middle Ages. Bringing together some seventy manuscripts from collections across the country, the exhibition begins with the reforms initiated by Charlemagne, the first emperor following the fall of Rome. It ends with the flurry of artistic innovation coinciding with the invention of the printing press and the onset of humanism in the fifteenth century. As the first major presentation of this subject in the English-speaking world, Imperial Splendor introduces visitors to fundamental aspects of this history, including how artists developed a visual rhetoric of power, the role of the aristocratic elite in the production and patronage of manuscripts, and the impact of Albrecht Dürer and humanism on the arts of the book.

A highly-illustrated history and survey of centres of book production and use within the Holy Roman Empire over the course of 700 years.

Author biographies

  • Jeffrey Hamburger is Kuno Francke Professor of German Art & Culture at Harvard University.
  • Joshua O’Driscoll is assistant curator in the department of Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts at The Morgan Library & Museum, New York.

Table of Contents

  1. Director’s Foreword by Colin B. Bailey
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Abbreviations
  4. I Introduction
  5. II Imperial Networks
  6. III Imperial Monasteries
  7. IV Imperial Cities
  8. The Main Imperial Dynasties
  9. Glossary
  10. Bibliography
  11. Index of Objects
  12. General Index
  13. Credits

More information:

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-911282-86-0
  • 216 Pages
  • 280 x 229 mm (9 x 11 in)
  • 153 colour illustrations
  • In association with the Morgan Library & Museum
  • October 2021

Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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