Wonders of the Medieval World exhibition comes to New York in early 2014

New York City will host an exhibition featuring the wide range of medieval art from Europe, including sculpture, paintings, stained glass, metalwork, and illuminated manuscripts. Wonders of the Medieval World will take place at at Richard L. Feigen & Co., from Wednesday 22nd January to Monday 17th March 2014.

Simon Bening PrayerbookThe exhibition is organized by London based dealer Sam Fogg. Highlights of the exhibition include a large astronomical calendar from the abbey of San Zeno in Verona. Made around 1455 and composed of rotating discs of wood and painted parchment, it allows for the simultaneous display of various cycles of time, from the phases of the moon and signs of the Zodiac to feast days of individual Saints. This unique instrument would have been mounted on the wall of the cloister of San Zeno and played the role of a basic clock telling the hours of the day to the monks of the abbey. It also acted as a kind of medieval computer, where the juxtaposition of astronomy and religion allowed the church authorities to plan their year. This object reminds the modern viewer of medieval sensibilities about time, where important dates of the Christian ecclesiastical year such as Easter were decided according to the dates of the full moon. Created specifically for and in isolation at the Benedictine abbey of San Zeno, which had an illustrious history of astronomical scholarship, it is the only surviving scientific instrument of its kind, using early Renaissance imagery to convey late medieval ideas of time.


Other highlights in the exhibition include an English alabaster altarpiece created for a private chapel in Northern Spain. This beautiful group of sculptures of the Virgin and Child with four female Saints is remarkably rare, not only in that it survives in almost complete form, but also because it is one of only very few such pieces with an assured provenance and a known patron. Its documented history is such that it can be confidently dated to the years immediately preceding 1461, the year the chapel in Oviedo in which it was placed was consecrated.

Aquamanilia are among the most iconic sculptures to survive from the medieval world, and this exhibition will include a very large example in the form of a gilt bronze lion. An aquamanile, from the Latin words ‘aqua’ and ‘manus’ literally ‘water’ and ‘hand’, was used as a water vessel for washing hands in both liturgical and domestic settings. This stately animal proudly bears the coat of arms of a family probably from Lower Saxony in Germany and suggests its high status secular usage.


Lion Aquamanile

Other works to be displayed include an early 15th century Aragonese painting by Nicholás Solana depicting the Passion of Christ, an early 16th century stained glass window from a Paris church – it shows the Adoration of the Magi – which was almost destroyed during the French Revolution, and the Imhof prayerbook, an illuminated manuscript created in Antwerp in 1511 by Simon Bening.


Richard L. Feigen & Co, one of New York’s most important private art dealers, is located at 34 East 69th Street. For more information, please visit the Richard L. Feigen & Co website.

Virgin and Child Retable