Rarely seen, exquisite Renaissance manuscripts and early printed books make this a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition. Beyond Words: Italian Renaissance Books showcases over 65 Renaissance paintings hidden between the covers of rare books in Boston’s libraries and museums. The works–remarkable for their beauty and jewel-like colors–will be on view at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston from Sept. 22 through Jan. 16, 2017.
At the heart of the show is a remarkable trove of illuminated manuscripts from celebrated Renaissance libraries. Written, illustrated, and bound by the hands of leading artists for popes, princes, and scions of Italian dynasties, they were produced as one-of-a-kind luxury items. Complementing the painted manuscripts are books from the dawn of printing including Isabella Stewart Gardner’s own rare, first Florentine edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy illustrated by Botticelli and the first copy of this edition to enter an American collection. All of the books in the exhibition shed new light on Renaissance patrons, artists, scribes, and printers from an era when the art of bookmaking reached its pinnacle.