Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta


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“It became Hoefnagel’s task to think of illuminations that were every bit as extraordinary as this amazing writing.”

The exquisite Renaissance manuscript Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, or Monument of Miraculous Calligraphy, is the result of a unique partnership between two different artists working thirty years apart. From 1561 to 1562 the master calligrapher Georg Bocskay created a book in which he demonstrated hundreds of elaborate scripts in many different languages and alphabets. More than fifteen years after Bocskay’s death, the artist Joris Hoefnagel illuminated the pages with lifelike and wondrous illustrations of plants and insects from around the world. Many of the species he depicted were newly known in Europe, reflecting a recent increase in the global exchange of goods and information.

In this episode, retired Getty senior curator of drawings Lee Hendrix discusses how Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta exemplifies Renaissance attitudes toward art, science, and knowledge. Hendrix coauthored the introduction to a facsimile volume, which is now back in print after more than a decade through Getty Publications.

For images, transcripts, and more, visit getty.edu/podcasts.

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