Book Series Studies in Medieval and Early Renaissance Art History

The Medieval World at our Fingertips

Manuscript Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman

Christopher de Hamel

  • Pages: 264 p.
  • Size:220 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:1 b/w, 200 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2017

  • ISBN: 978-1-909400-88-7
  • Hardback
  • Available


The Medieval World at Our Fingertips (…) manages to blur the line between academic and popular and make hardcore medieval studies exciting and enjoyable to the dedicated lay reader. Few titles in the realm of medieval studies can make that claim. Physically this is a handsome, well-made production, beautifully designed and chock full of mouth-watering illustrations. The Windy City is fortunate to have Sandra Hindman as benefactor and Christopher de Hamel as tour guide. (Bill Butts, in Manuscripts, 2018, p. 355)

“(...) a fascinating window on the social, cultural, and historical context of a cluster of cuttings from disparate medieval manuscripts.” (Alison Stones, in Francia-Recensio, 2, 2018)

“(…) a book that is, on the whole, beautifully produced. Manuscript scholars will rightly now wonder what other treasures the Hindman Collection holds.” (Diane J. Reilly, in The Medieval Review, 06/09/2019)


This fascinating book offers a most engaging and fresh glimpse into the world of the Middle Ages. It accompanies an exhibit of some thirty diverse illuminated manuscript pages, and in a series of short descriptive essays on each of the miniatures the reader is taken on a remarkable journey from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, from which we can learn not only a great deal about the art of illumination, but also about the monasteries and cathedrals of Europe and such prominent medieval centres as the cities of London, Florence, Paris and Nuremberg. Moreover, Christopher de Hamel’s wide knowledge and vivid reflections provide the historical and cultural context that help us to fully understand and truly appreciate these special works of art.

The illuminated pages presented here are part of the impressive and broad-ranging collection assembled over twenty-five years by the medieval scholar and long-time Chicagoan Sandra Hindman. They represent both biblical and secular subjects and include the work of master illuminators such as Maestro Daddesco, Giovanni di Paolo and the Master of Mary of Burgundy. In addition to the colour reproductions of all the exhibited pages, the essays are sumptously illustrated with further related and comparative images, many of which are drawn from the collections of the Chicago Institute of Art itself.

The Introduction to the volume is by the well-known medievalist James Marrow, and there is also a Catalogue by Matthew Westerby giving full details, descriptions, provenance and bibliography of the exhibited illuminations.


The Essays
1. Crossing the Threshold
2. Illuminating Music
3. Why Saints Matter
4. Initiating the Renaissance
5. Cuttings and Collectors
6. Markint Time
7. Re-Enacting the Past
8. Reading the Bible Aloud
9. Painters as Illustrators
10. Nuns at Prayer
11. Gospels in German
12. Survivors of the Flood
13. Heir to the Kingdom
14. Masses of Missals
15. An Abbot’s Extravagance in Nuremberg
16. Devotion and Domesticity
17. Pen to Press
18. On the Road
19. Leonardo in Miniature
- Bibliographical Notes
- The Catalogue, Matthew J. Westerby
- List of Illustrations – Index of Names and Places