A glance at the concept of eternity

Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath of wind

‘Naught is this mundane rumour but a breath of wind,’ a phrase from Dante Alighieri’s ‘Divine Comedy,’ serves as a motto for this small presentation. A series of European illuminated manuscripts on display encourages us to reflect on the concept of eternity.

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With the aim of proposing an observation and reflection on the images and content of some of the most noteworthy manuscripts and illuminated works in the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection, seven manuscripts and a single folio from a Holy Bible are presented in the display case devoted to this section of the Collection.

This selection relates to a narrative about the history of humans and their faith, and the belief in that which, perhaps, created them and awaits them after their earthly demise. Rather than presenting a fixed idea of an eternity that is divine, infernal or heavenly, however, these works show us, more than anything, that eternity is without doubt attained through art. It is achieved, in particular, through the art of the book, of telling stories, sacred or profane, by writing and illustrating them, by illuminating them, for those who once looked at and learned from them, for those who look at and reflect on them today, and for those who will come later and continue to preserve that mundane rumour, celebrated and fulfilled in the written and illustrated pages of illuminated manuscripts.


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