Manuscripts and Medieval Bestiaries

by | 2 October 2018 | Art, Gainsborough

There was a good membership turnout for the first Fine Arts lecture of the autumn season at the Trinity Arts Centre. Everyone was hugely rewarded by the visit of probably the best-known expert on medieval manuscripts in the world. Dr Christopher de Hamel has doctorates from both Oxford and Cambridge and has written over 100 books and articles on his subject, translated into numerous languages. He was responsible for all catalogue and sales of illuminated manuscripts at Sotheby’s for twenty-five years.

Dr de Hamel chose to speak in particular about Bestiaries, the famous medieval illustrated encyclopaedias of all the animals in the world, from the familiar to the exotic and fantastic. The Worksop Bestiary made by a Canon of Lincoln Cathedral and now in America, is our only remaining copy with a known provenance from 400 years ago. They are a particularly characteristic product of medieval England and give a unique insight into the medieval mind. Richly illuminated and lavishly produced, they were luxury objects for noble families. Their three-fold purpose was to provide a natural history of birds, beasts and fishes and most importantly to draw moral examples from animal behaviour (the industrious bee, the stubborn ass) and to reveal a mystical meaning long before the written word — the phoenix, for instance, as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. A lecture of joy to remember about our religious heritage.
The next lecture on 4th October will be Simon Seligman speaking to us on ‘A Renaissance in Modern Times: Chatsworth and the Devonshire Collections, 1950 to the present day’.

We always meet at 1.45pm in the Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough, on the first Thursday of the month (except in January, July and August), telephone number 01427 676655. A light lunch is bookable from 12.00pm, provided by Cooks the Caterers. To book please call 01469 532020 (please call after 6.00pm) by the preceding Monday. For further information about membership, please call 01427 788550. Visitors are always very welcome for £7.00 entrance. General further information can be obtained from chair Susan Hollingworth on 07880 500762.