May 23, 2012
Love's Labors in the Ruins
The Curious Case of the Carmelite Missal
Department of Art History
What does it mean to never give up on a ruined masterpiece? This talk explores how University of Chicago alumna and Professor of Art History Margaret Rickert, PhD '38, undertook a herculean labor of love, reconstructing one of the greatest illuminated manuscripts produced in late fourteenth-century England. This monument of Gothic painting, thought to be the earliest known Missal associated with the Carmelite Order, was tragically cut into more than 2,000 fragments by a collector's children and had long been mourned by manuscript specialists, art historians, and bibliophiles. Developing innovative new methods of codicological analysis and art historical deduction, Margaret Rickert's brilliant scholarly detective work, culminating in her reconstruction of the original illuminated manuscript, vividly demonstrates how dedication, erudition, and the connoisseur's sensitive eye have the power to resurrect masterpieces once thought hopelessly lost to history.