The Book of Ruth: Medieval to Modern at The Morgan Library & Museum, February 14 – June 14, 2020

“The Morgan Library & Museum is pleased to present The Book of Ruth: Medieval to Modern. The exhibition celebrates the gift made in 2018 by Joanna S. Rose of The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth to the Morgan. The accordion-fold vellum manuscript, measuring nine inches tall and an astonishing eighteen feet long, was designed and illuminated by New York artist Barbara Wolff, who worked on the project for two years (2015–17). The Rose Book of Ruth is presented in conversation with twelve manuscripts, drawn from the Morgan’s holdings, that unfold the Christian traditions for illustrating the story of Ruth during the Middle Ages. Through the juxtaposition of the modern manuscript with these ancient works, which date from the twelfth to the fifteenth century and include three leaves from the Morgan’s famed Crusader Bible, the exhibition brings into focus the techniques of medieval illuminators that inspired Wolff, as well as her inventive approach to iconography.” — The Morgan Library & Museum

Psalter single leaf, MS M.724, verso

Tree of Jesse; David Proclaimed King; David Battling Zion; Episodes from the Life of John the Baptist; Nativity of Christ. Leaf from the “Eadwine Psalter” England, Canterbury, Christ Church Priory, ca. 1150 MS M.724v Purchased, 1927 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Janny Chiu, 2018.

MS M.851.1, No. 001, Naomi and Elimelech: in Moab, fol. 127r, Bible fragments (MS M.851.1-4), France, ca. 1260.

Naomi Departing Bethlehem; Her Sons, Mahlon and Chilion; Ruth and Orpah; Marriage of Ruth and Boaz; Obed; Jesse. Single Leaf from a Bible, in Latin France, ca. 1260 MS M.851.1 Gift of the Estate of Belle da Costa Greene, 1951 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Janny Chiu, 2018.

MS M.394, fol. 114r, Naomi and Elimelech journey to Maob, Moulins, Guyart des, approximately 1251-approximately 1297, Bible historiale, Paris, France, ca. 1415.

The Family of Naomi and Elimelech Arriving in Moab. Bible historiale, in French Illuminated by the workshop of the Boucicaut Master France, Paris, ca. 1415 MS M.394, fol. 114r Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1910 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Janny Chiu, 2018.

Old Testament miniatures, MS M.638, fol. 17v

Boaz Asks Ruth’s Identity; Ruth Gleaning; Ruth Dines with Boaz; Workers Stacking the Crop of Boaz. “Crusader Bible,” added inscriptions in Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian France, Paris, ca. 1250 MS M.638, fol. 17v Purchased by J.P. Morgan, 1916 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Janny Chiu, 2018.

Old Testament miniatures, MS M.638, fol. 18r

Ruth Threshing and Bringing Grain to Naomi; Naomi Counseling Ruth; Workers Threshing Grain; Ruth Lays at the Feet of Boaz. “Crusader Bible,” added inscriptions in Latin, Persian, and Judeo-Persian France, Paris, ca. 1250 MS M.638, fol. 18r Purchased by J.P. Morgan, 1916 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Janny Chiu, 2018.

MS M.1210, fol 21 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

Ruth Departing the Tent of Boaz. The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fols. 20r-21r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

MS M.1210, fol 19 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

The Wing of God. The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fols. 18r-19r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

MS M.1210, fol 9 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

The Barley of Beth-Lechem. The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fol. 9r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

MS M.1210, fol 13 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

The “Gezer Calendar.” The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fol. 13r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

MS M.1210, fol 16 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

Flowers for Perfume. The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fol. 16r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

MS M.1210, fol 24 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

Sandal of Ratification. The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fol. 24r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

MS M.1210, fol 25 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

Ruth’s Wedding Belt. The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fol. 25r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

MS M.1210, fol 7 Hebrew, Wolff, Barbara (Illustrator), illuminator, book designer, The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, New York and Jerusalem, 2015-2017

Naomi and Ruth Embracing. The Joanna S. Rose Illuminated Book of Ruth, in Hebrew and English United States, New York, and Israel, Jerusalem, 2015-17 Commissioned by Joanna S. Rose, written by Izzy Pludwinski, designed and illuminated by Barbara Wolff MS M.1210, fol. 7r Gift of Joanna S. Rose, 2018 The Morgan Library & Museum. Photography by Rudi Wolff. Artwork © Barbara Wolff.

This exhibition is organized by Roger S. Wieck, the Morgan’s Melvin R. Seiden Curator and Department Head of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript. Wieck says, “I think visitors will be amazed at the inspiration that artists – both medieval and modern – have found in the suspenseful and touching story told in The Book of Ruth.” 

Images courtesy The Morgan Library & Museum.