Medieval and Renaissance Treasures From the V&A

You can check out the original Da Vinci code, the mirror writing of the artist's personal notebook, Codex Forster I, in "Medieval and Renaissance Treasures From the V&A." You won't even have to fight an albino or dodge the Illuminati to get at the code in this or the other 44 works in this traveling exhibit from Britain's museum of art and design. While Da Vinci's book itself is safely under plexiglass, the exhibit includes digital images of its pages on computer screens that allow visitors to see the genius' designs in the book animated in three dimensions. The high-tech approach to the historic manuscript lives up to the ingenuity of the master artist. The rest of the 44 works are sculptural art divided into three categories. In "Status and Display" are precious ivory panels with intricate carvings of religious scenes, which were originally gospel covers or reliquary shrine doors. A gilt-copper and champlevé enamel, Reliquary Casket of St. Thomas Becket, depicts the legend of the saint's death and is probably the earliest and certainly the largest and finest of the small caskets designed to hold his remains. In "Piety and Devotion," The Virgin and Child is the only example of three-dimensional work meant to be seen in the round that has survived from the Byzantine empire. Earthenware dishes, small bronzes, jewelry, and portraiture are among the items in "The Secular World," which includes the Da Vinci notebook. Ironically, folks are likely to be inspired to make their pilgrimage more by the secular Da Vinci notebook than by the religious artifacts. (Through January 6 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-832-5196.)

 
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