Baltimore —From July 22 through October 29, 2006, the Walters Art Museum will present Schatzkammer: Henry Walters’ German Manuscripts, a high-quality group of 24 medieval German manuscripts from the 9th through 16th century. This richly illustrated group of Gospel books, liturgical manuscripts, prayer books and theological texts received the most luxurious decoration of all book types in, reflecting the concept of the Schatzkammer, or treasury, where such pieces were often kept during the Middle Ages. Many of these books have rarely been on display, and none have been presented as a group prior to this exhibition.
“This is a great opportunity to see all of these manuscripts together for the first time,” says the show’s curator, Christine Sciacca, former fellow in the department of manuscripts and rare books. “The books are a testament to Henry Walters’ appreciation of exceptional and historic pieces.”
Schatzkammer refers to the chambers often found within churches and palaces that were used to store the most precious items they possessed. Such objects included jewelry, liturgical implements, reliquaries and the costliest manuscripts. The volumes that Henry Walters collected are both a reflection of the type of books kept in a Schatzkammer as well as a veritable treasury of manuscripts themselves. The arrangement of these volumes highlights their use in medieval devotional practice, liturgical ceremony and theological learning while offering insight into medieval German painting and book production as an art form.
One of the most beautiful pieces in this collection is the Mondsee Gospel Lectionary from Regensburg. Dating to the 11th century, this manuscript contains a collection of readings used in the Mass, and its front cover presents religious iconography that is central to the Christian faith. Surrounding a silver gilt cross are ivory plaques depicting the four Evangelists. At the center of the cross is an image of the Crucifixion placed beneath a large oval piece of rock crystal. This Mass book with its silver book binding is a stunning example of the type of book that would have been kept in a treasury.
Another important manuscript is a Gospel book from Reichenau dating from about 1075. The abbey at Reichenau was well-k nown throughout the country and was often commissioned to produce manuscripts for other German monasteries during the 10th and 11th centuries. This particular book shows an abbot giving the manuscript to Saint Peter, referencing the work of the monks who created these books in celebration of their faith.
The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre streets and is one of only a few museums worldwide to present a comprehensive history of art from the third millennium B.C. to the early 20th century. Among its thousands of treasures, the Walters holds the finest collection of ivories, jewelry, enamels and bronzes in and a spectacular reserve of illuminated manuscripts and rare books. The Walters’ Egyptian, Greek and Roman, Byzantine, Ethiopian and western medi eval art collections are among the best in the nation, as are the museum’s holdings of Renaissance and Asian art. Every major trend in French painting during the 19th century is represented by one or more works in the Walters’ collection.
Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum . This historic property is just around the corner from the museum and features George’s, a full-service restaurant. For hotel reservations, call 1-800-292-5500 and ask for the special Walters discounted rate.