The RKD – Institute for Art History announced that it has received the Byvanck database: a collection of research data on ca. 3000 illuminated manuscripts in Dutch collections. The database will be incorporated into the databases of the RKD and made accessible to the public through a new online portal titled Medieval Dutch Manuscript Illumination (MDMI).
Researchers of the Alexander Willem Byvanck Genootschap, a Dutch society dedicated to the study of Northern Netherlandish illuminated manuscripts, has formed the Byvanck database in a period of fifteen years and completed the project in 2001. The database contains information on illuminated manuscripts from around 75 institutions in the Netherlands. It also includes information about Northern-Netherlandish manuscripts known to be in foreign collections. Thanks to the Byvanck database, the Netherlands is the only country in the world that has an almost complete overview of its medieval miniature art.
The Byvanck database describes not only the manuscripts, but also the images which they incorporate: from full-page miniatures to smaller marginal illustrations. The miniatures in illuminated manuscripts have survived in much greater numbers than medieval panel paintings. By integrating the Byvanck database into the RKD’s database, the images will be brought into the broader context of Netherlandish art history. Moreover, given that illuminated manuscripts can be relatively securely localized and dated, a research tool can be created that allows multidisciplinary research into relations between manuscript illumination and other kinds of artistic production.
Medieval manuscript illumination is a new subject area for the RKD. Therefore a specialist in the field, Dr. Anne Margreet As-Vijvers, has been appointed as Senior Curator of Medieval Manuscript Illumination as of 1 January 2022. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2025.