Publius Ovidius Naso, ‘Ovide moralisé en vers’, København, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Ms. Thott 399
8000 BRUGES, BELGIUM
• Phone: +32 50 44 87 43
• Website: www.museabrugge.be
• Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
• From Tuesday to Sunday: 09:30 - 17:00
• Closed on Mondays
• €12 (from 26 to 64 years)
• €10 (over 65 years & 18-25 years), audioguide and permanent collection included
• Free under 18 years and inhabitants of Bruges
• Phone: +32 50 44 87 08.
• Snoeck Publishers, Hardback, 256 p., €39.
The central figure in the exhibition is Colard Mansion. This might sound a little strange, since we actually know very little about Mansion’s personal history. He first appears in local documents in 1457 and disappears again after 1484. We do not know where he came from in 1457. And we do not know where he went to and what happened to him after 1484. All is shrouded in mystery.
What we do know is that during his years in Bruges he was responsible for producing an outstanding corpus of work. It is these books, manuscripts and prints that deserve our attention. The name of Colard Mansion calls to mind the luxurious parchments and beautiful incunabula of Burgundian Bruges. ‘Haute Lecture’ indeed! Interest in his oeuvre dates back to the 18th century, when Mansion was first ‘discovered’ and thereafter collected by antiquarians and bibliophiles.
By the time the book entrepreneur Colard Mansion arrived in Bruges, the city already had an excellent reputation as a centre for the production of fine manuscripts. Between 1457 and 1484 Mansion also crafted superb manuscripts in Bruges, but he was too the first person to print books there. Now, more than 500 years later, Musea Brugge and the municipal library in Bruges have collected together all the different books he ever made. This impressive oeuvre offers us a unique view of the city of Bruges in the era when the art of book printing first arrived.
Nowadays, Mansion’s books can be found in libraries all around the world. Reconstructing and bringing together his entire book production forms the basis for this exhibition. There is at least one copy of each of the 26 editions he published. This means that Mansion’s complete oeuvre will be reassembled in Bruges, where it was first crafted. This has only been made possible thanks to the generosity of numerous lenders from Europe and America, backed by the unstinting support of the ‘Bibliothèque nationale de France’ (National Library of France), which is home to the world’s largest collection of works by Mansion. This distinction is largely due to the efforts of its one-time librarian Joseph-Basil van Praet (1754 - 1837), who was originally a native of Bruges. Van Praet also donated fifteen Mansion incunabula to the municipal library in his home city. This library has now joined forced with Musea Brugge to create an exhibition that does justice to both the book-historical and the art-historical aspects of Mansion’s work. In Mansion’s day, the technical production and the final appearance of incunabula, manuscripts and prints were closely interrelated. The objects in the exhibition invite today’s experts to look beyond the narrow confines of their own research specialism and to explore the interactions that occur when different forms of art meet.
The bringing together of incunabula, manuscripts and prints, supplemented with paintings and objects from the metalworker’s art, ensures that ‘Haute Lecture’ is a rich, varied and dynamic exhibition. More than 55 archives, libraries and museums from all around the world have made available some 150 exhibits on loan. Superb manuscripts, illuminated incunabula and rare prints bring the innovative book industry of the Mansion era back to life.