Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Myra Dickman Orth research papers
Date (inclusive): 1952-2003
34.6 Linear Feet
The Getty Research Institute
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 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
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
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
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 Archives firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 II. Publications and research,
Teaching files, 1963-2002;
Series IV. Correspondence, 1966-2002.
Subjects - Names
Stirnemann, Patricia Danz --
Eisler, Colin T. --
Orth, Myra Dickman --
Avril, François --
Subjects - Topics
Illumination of books and manuscripts, Renaissance -- France
Books of hours
Illumination of books and manuscripts, French
Art historians -- United States