Christian Illuminated Manuscripts
The Golden Age for Christian manuscripts was the Middle Ages, when most religious manuscripts were produced in monasteries either by commission from wealthy patrons or for the abbey library. The Book of Kells, now housed in Trinity College in Dublin is one very famous example of The New Testament from the 9th century. In addition to reproducing the books of The Bible, private individuals would commission their own personal prayer book or 'book of hours'. Having a book of hours came in vogue during the height of the Renaissance in the 15th century. Perhaps the most famous of these miniature painters are the Limbourg Brothers, Herman, Paul and Johan. They were commissioned by the Duke of Berry to create a book of hours known as Tres Riches Heures, which is thought to be the most valuable book in the world. Bridgeman represents the Musee Conde in Chantilly, France, which houses one of the world's most impressive collections of book illuminations from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Islamic Written Tradition
Islam has a rich written heritage, which was developed over the course of ten centuries. The Islamic world covers a broad section of our planet and the artistic merits extend far and wide; from Persian and Mughal illustrated manuscripts to Ottoman devotional works and Qu'rans from every corner of the globe. Delicately painted illuminations and miniatures transcend time and place and provide a window into pre-20th century Islamic culture. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian and the Brooklyn Museum of Art have excellent collections of Islamic manuscripts and devotional objects.
Hebrew calligraphers, called 'soferet', are practiced in the ritualistic craft of writing holy scrolls, such as the Torah, which is considered the foundation of Jewish life and thought. Bridgeman represents the prodigious Israel Museum in Jerusalem which has a wonderful collection of Torah scrolls and accessories.
An exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco called 'As It Is Written: Project 304,805' follows a female scribe as she reproduces the ancient Torah text, which consists of the Five Books of Moses, using traditional methods and materials.
The Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit epic, forms an important part of the Hindu cannon. The tome consists of 24,000 verses in seven books and tells the story of Rama (an incarnation of the Hindu preserver-god Vishnu). The epic explores the meaning of human existence and the concept of dharma, or one's righteous duty.
Bridgeman has over 100 images from this stunning epic, from collections such as the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institution, The Stapleton Collection and Archives Charmet.