John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Curated by The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, in partnership with The Ringling, this major exhibition will feature over 160 objects, many on loan from prestigious institutions across the US and Europe including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Louvre.
The exhibition focuses on the late medieval and early Renaissance period in Europe (roughly 1300-1500), a time in which societal changes prompted a new interest in human experience, the enjoyment of nature and the pursuit of pleasure. As a result, the art of this period functioned in a rich sensory world that was integral to its appreciation. These works were not only seen, but also touched, smelled and heard. The exhibition will bring together sacred and secular art—including paintings, tapestries, metalwork, and manuscripts—to reveal the role of the senses in courtly ritual and religious practice.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog, A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe, brings together sacred and secular art to reveal the shared intellectual culture that governed the understanding of perception and the role of senses in Europe from the 12th through the 16th century. The late medieval world was marked by a culture of refinement and sophistication. The period’s media of choice—paintings, manuscripts, prints, tapestries, embroideries, ivory sculpture, metalwork, and enamels—speak volumes about the pleasures of sensory engagement. Art objects were touched, smelled, tasted, and heard, as well as seen. This sumptuous new book is a focused exploration of the performative and multifaceted nature of medieval art and underscores its direct appeal to the senses, revealing the rich experiential world that informed its interpretation. Eight essays explore these themes through representations of religious practices, royal rituals, feasts and celebrations, music, and literature.
Beautifully designed and produced, A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe contributes significantly to an emerging field in the history of art and showcases approximately 130 objects, each accompanied by a full description, provenance, and bibliography.