Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Orth (Myra Dickman) research papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (153.81 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Myra Dickman Orth research papers
    Date (inclusive): 1952-2003
    Number: 2004.M.10
    Creator/Collector: Orth, Myra Dickman
    Physical Description: 34.6 Linear Feet (83 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles 90049-1688
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10020/askref
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: 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.
    Request Materials: Request access to the physical materials described in this inventory through the catalog record  for this collection. Click here for the access policy .
    Language: Collection is in English and French.

    Biographical/Historical Note

    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 .

    Administrative Information


    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.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Myra Dickman Orth research papers, 1952-2003, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2004.M.10.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 2004.

    Processing History

    Marion Bernard rehoused the archive and prepared this finding aid in March 2013 with the guidance of Karen Meyer-Roux.

    Related Materials

    For working files and research conducted as part of Myra Orth's work for the Getty, please contact the Getty Institutional Archives archives@getty.edu.

    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.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Stirnemann, Patricia Danz -- Correspondence
    Eisler, Colin T. -- Correspondence
    Orth, Myra Dickman -- Correspondence
    Avril, François -- Correspondence

    Subjects - Topics

    Illumination of books and manuscripts, Renaissance -- France
    Books of hours
    Illumination of books and manuscripts, French
    Art historians -- United States


    Orth, Myra Dickman
    Eisler, Colin T.
    Stirnemann, Patricia Danz
    Avril, François