Precious pigments, pages laced with gold and intricate illustrations – Medieval and Renaissance Europe might have been plagued by poverty, but its art saw no drought of exquisite materials and talent.

Fitzwilliam Museum’s upcoming major exhibition COLOUR: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts unveils the secrets of master illuminators – who decorated manuscripts, illuminating them with sketches, initials and borders – from the tenth to the sixteenth century.

Highlights of the 150 manuscripts exhibited include treasures such as the Macclesfield Psalter (c.1330-1340) (shown) with its anatomically precise humans and illusion of volume and texture. 

University of Cambridge and international scholars have used their considerable academic clout to provide extra insight for the exhibition, such as the practical applications of the paints and pigments, and their symbolism. 

Head down in the July sun (we’re crossing our fingers) to see this dazzling exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, running from 30 July to 30 December.     

We’ve collected highlights of the exhibition, which brims with ornate, eye-catching fragments of history.

Image: The Macclesfield Psalter (c.1330-1340) - The Anointing of David. East Anglia (probably Norwich), England. 

All images are courtesy of the Fitzwilliam Museum. 

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