September 26, 2016–January 8, 2017
Exhibition Location: The Tisch Galleries, Gallery 899
Beginning around the year 1000, Jerusalem attained unprecedented significance as a location, destination, and symbol to people of diverse faiths from Iceland to India. Multiple competitive and complementary religious traditions, fueled by an almost universal preoccupation with the city, gave rise to one of the most creative periods in its history.
Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 26, the landmark exhibition Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven will demonstrate the key role that the Holy City, sacred to the three Abrahamic faiths, played in shaping the art of this period. In these centuries, Jerusalem was home to more cultures, religions, and languages than ever before. Through times of peace as well as war, Jerusalem remained a constant source of inspiration that resulted in art of great beauty and fascinating complexity.
Jerusalem 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven is the first exhibition to unravel the various cultural traditions and aesthetic strands that enriched and enlivened the medieval city. The exhibition will feature some 200 works of art from 60 lenders worldwide. More than four dozen key loans come from Jerusalem’s diverse religious communities, some of which have never before shared their treasures outside their walls.
The exhibition represents a collaborative partnership between Barbara Drake Boehm, the Paul and Jill Ruddock Senior Curator for The Met Cloisters, and Melanie Holcomb, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters and will examine six specific factors that made medieval Jerusalem an exceptional source of artistic inspiration:
The Pulse of Trade and Tourism: Often understood as the crossroads of the known world, Jerusalem was a thriving urban center, teeming with locals and tourists, new arrivals and long-timers, merchants and artists, soldiers and scholars. The exhibition will evoke the many wares of the marketplace, including ceramics produced locally and imported from as far away as China. Textiles on view will reconstruct the fashion sensibilities of Jerusalem’s residents, including, surprisingly perhaps, their predilection for printed cottons from the Indian subcontinent. The shared taste of the region’s wealthy inhabitants confounds efforts to distinguish the owners’ identities, let alone their ethnic or religious heritage. Jewels that are recognizably Islamic in technique correspond to contemporary descriptions of the trousseaux of Jewish brides. A remarkable gathering of Cross reliquaries speak to the links between Jerusalem and Europe.
The Diversity of Peoples: Dozens of denominations and communities contributed to the artistic and spiritual richness of the city. The historical record surrounding medieval Jerusalem—a “city of foreigners”— includes both harmonious and dissonant voices from many lands: Persians, Turks, Greeks, Syrians, Armenians, Georgians, Ethiopians, Indians, and Europeans from each of the Abrahamic faith traditions passed in the narrow streets of the city—not much larger than midtown Manhattan. Visitors will be astonished, for example, by the numerous distinct alphabets and different languages of prayer. Exemplifying this will be Christian Gospel books in Arabic, Greek, Armenian, and Syriac, a Samaritan Bible in a distinctive Hebrew script, and the biblical book of Kings in Ge’ez, the language of Ethiopia, given by that land’s king to his community in Jerusalem. Continue reading