Haute Lecture by Colard Mansion. Innovating text and image in medieval Bruges

The exhibition takes you back to fifteenth-century Bruges, the city of Charles the Bold and Hans Memling. In that era Bruges was a cosmopolitan, dynamic city, famous for its book production. Luxury books held a central place in international trade and the broader Burgundian culture.

In the middle of this book world stands the figure of Colard Mansion, producer of luxury books. Initially, Mansion was the man of beautiful manuscripts, but he quickly switched over to the brand-new medium of the printed book. Mansion created the most magnificent incunabula of his time, in an unprecedented typography and very specially illustrated. He primarily printed French texts that had never been published before.

This unprecedented beauty of Mansion’s printed oeuvre is a main focus of the exhibition. Incunabula from the Public Library of Bruges and the Bibliothèque nationale de France are supplemented by volumes from libraries all over the world. Never before has such a large number of Mansion’s incunabula been assembled in a single exhibition.

Colard Mansion’s work integrates tradition and innovation and includes prints, manuscripts and miniatures, but also illustrations. The exhibition will acquaint you with the studio practices of Colard Mansion and those of copyists, printmakers and other artists and artisans.

The exhibition offers insight into Mansion’s dazzling works - but the man behind it all doesn’t betray his secrets. For example, there are many unanswered questions about his collaboration with William Caxton, the first English printer. And what happened to Colard Mansion himself after 1484 also remains shrouded in mystery: he disappeared from Bruges just as suddenly as he had appeared there. No one knows where he came from, no one knows where he fled to. Can his books solve this puzzle?

The exhibition ‘Haute Lecture by Colard Mansion’ transports you to a thriving metropolis, where new books were being created for a new world. Spend an afternoon in fifteenth-century Bruges and come home with a wealth of stories.

With the support of



Period: 01/03 - 03/06/2018

Location: Groeningemuseum

Ticket rates (permanent exhibition included):

free with membership card Vrienden van de Musea
free with Museumpas
free for primary and secondary school students (accompanied by teacher)

26-64 years old € 12,00  (incl. audioguide)
65+ € 10,00 
18-25  € 10,00 
-18 free




Included in the entrance ticket
Languages: NL-FR-DE-EN

Guided visits for groups   € 75 excl. ticket - max. 15 p.
Languages: NL/FR/DE/EN
+32 (0)50 44 46 46

Lecture (French)
Bruges and Paris. Joseph-Basile van Praet and Mansion's incunabula
by Geneviève Guilleminot

  Wednessday 23 Mai at 7.30 p.m.
Main Library Biekorf

Symposium on conservation and restauration

  Friday 25 May
Info on www.cores-vlaanderen.be

For sale at Museumshops Groeningemuseum & Arentshof, Dijver 16, 8000 Bruges

  Catalogue (EN)
Snoeck Publishers, Hardback, 256 p., € 39

OKV special edition (NL & FR)
€ 9