Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Myra Dickman Orth research papers
Date (inclusive): 1952-2003
Orth, Myra Dickman
34.6 linear feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
The research papers of Myra Dickman Orth consist of manuscript notes, correspondence, drawings, publications, slides, offprints,
photographs, and index cards. An American art historian and a leading specialist on French Renaissance manuscripts, Orth conducted
research and published on books of hours, printers, women patrons, royal patronage and intellectual life in Renaissance France.
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Language: Collection is in English and French.
American art historian Myra Orth (1934-2002) was a leading specialist on French Renaissance manuscripts. She studied art history
at Cornell University (BA, 1956) and at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, where she received both her MA (1964)
and PhD (1976) under the direction of Colin Eisler. Her research focused at first on French Renaissance books of hours in
connection with the printer Geofroy Tory and the artist known as Godefroy le Batave and the 1520s Hours Workshop. Orth's academic
path was quite atypical in that she completed her advanced degrees by correspondence while raising two children and living
in several countries, including Belgium, Australia, Japan, England and France. She wrote her PhD dissertation in London, while
also attending seminars at the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes.
She began her university career in Paris in 1976, teaching art history at the American College, where she also served as Head
of the Humanities Division from 1980 to 1982. In 1982, she moved back to the United States where she taught Renaissance art
history courses at the University of Virginia until the fall of 1983. In 1985, she accepted a position as Section Head of
Northern Paintings for the Photo Archive at the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, and shortly thereafter
began a two-year tenure as Acting Head of the Photo Archive. Orth spearheaded the effort to photograph and microfilm manuscripts
in the National Library and Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg and in the National Museum and the Museum of Decorative
Arts in Prague in collaboration with the Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes (CNRS) in Paris. She also curated
an exhibition on the archive of British art historian Ellis Waterhouse acquired by the Getty in 1986. After her retirement
in July 1995, Orth continued to serve in an advisory capacity at the Getty.
With the exception of an essay on architecture in Australia, Orth's prolific research focused on the production of French
Renaissance manuscripts, specifically books of hours of the first half of the sixteenth century. She continued her research
on Godefroy le Batave, the 1520s Hours Workshop and other artists such as the Master of Claude de France and the Master of
François de Rohan. She conducted research on printed devotional books, printers and printing production, and explored the
artistic relationship between manuscripts and printed books. She examined the influence of Flemish and Italian art on the
development of French art during the Renaissance. Women patrons and artists became one of her main fields of interest, and
she researched female figures such as Marguerite de Navarre and Louise of Savoy. More generally, she was not only interested
in artistic production but in all aspects of intellectual life during the Renaissance, including the Evangelical reform, which
explains her prolonged work on humanists and scholars's writings in connection with artistic production. An industrious scholar,
she was still working, months before her death in 2002, on her ambitious publication on sixteenth-century French manuscripts
Renaissance Manuscripts. The Sixteenth Century: A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France.
Open for use by qualified researchers, except for student records in Series III that are SEALED per Family Educational Rights
and Privacy Act (FERPA) legislation and institutional policy until 2057/2069.
Myra Dickman Orth research papers, 1952-2003, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2004.M.10.
Acquired in 2004.
Marion Bernard rehoused the archive and prepared this finding aid in March 2013 with the guidance of Karen Meyer-Roux.
For working files and research conducted as part of Myra Orth's work for the Getty, please contact the Getty Institutional
Scope and Content of Collection
The Myra Dickman Orth research papers document Orth's education and research from her student years until the last months
before her death in November 2002. They are a testament to the extent of Orth's research interests and her prominent role
in French Renaissance studies, and reveal a scholar's working methods before the widespread use of the Internet and digitization.
Very few documents are related to Orth's personal life.
The archive is arranged in four series. Series I relates to Orth's education and consists of her art history course notebooks
dating from her Cornell and Institute of Fine Arts periods, and copies of her theses for the MA and the PhD.
Series II forms the bulk of the archive and consists of notes, drawings, bibliography, publications and documentation that
reflect Orth's working methods, her interests and research topics. This portion of the archive documents her research on French
Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, humanism and other topics. Included are files related to Orth's publications, lectures,
and research tools, such as slides, offprints, photographs, negatives, index cards and microfilms.
Series III consists of teaching materials, including Orth's preparation notes for courses taught at the American College in
Paris, the University of Virginia and UCLA. Series IV consists of Orth's correspondence with scholars and researchers, including
François Avril, Colin Eisler, and Patricia Stirnemann.
Arranged in four series:
Series I. Education, 1952-1995;
Series II. Publications and research, 1970-2003;
Series III. Teaching files, 1963-2002;
Series IV. Correspondence, 1966-2002.
Subjects - Names
Avril, François -- Correspondence
Eisler, Colin T. -- Correspondence
Orth, Myra Dickman -- Correspondence
Stirnemann, Patricia Danz, 1945- -- Correspondence
Subjects - Topics
Art historians--United States
Books of hours
Illumination of books and manuscripts, French
Illumination of books and manuscripts, Renaissance -- France
Eisler, Colin T.
Stirnemann, Patricia Danz, 1945-