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April News for Digital Scriptorium

Exhibition at the Bavarian State Library Munich (Germany)

Submitted by Karl-Georg Pfändtner, BSB-Munich

The Bavarian State Library's new exhibition, Bilderwelten-Buckmalerei zwischen Mittelalter und Neuzeit, provides a unique opportunity to see in person or online some of the most important 15th/early 16th century middle European illuminated manuscripts, the highlights of this period held in that institution.

A lot of the manuscripts came originally from monastic and cathedral libraries in Bavaria and entered the Munich collection as a result of secularization in the early years of 19th century. Others derive from the ducal libraries of Bavaria and other German countries ruled by members of the Wittelsbach dynasty, or once were in the possession of rich citizens of the late medieval wealthy German cities (Reichsstadt).

Among the highlights you find the richly illuminated Breviary of Emperor Frederick III, showing his entire family, i.e. his wife Eleanor of Portugal with their sons and daughters, among them the later emperor Maximilian I and his sister Kunigunde of Habsburg, who in 1487 became the wife of Duke Albrecht IV of Bavaria. The five-volume Salzburg Missal, ordered by the archbishops of Salzburg for the liturgy of Salzburg Cathedral and illuminated by Ulrich Schreier and Berthold Furtmeyr, is among the richest existing missals of the late middle ages. The illuminations of the huge Vulgate known as the Grillinger Bible, commissioned by the Salzburg canon Peter Grillinger and written by Johann Freybeck between 1428 and 1430, are among the best quality of this period in central Europe. These and many other manuscripts are now fully digitized and available online at the MDZ Digitale Bibliothek.

Hans Holbein the Elder, St. Simpertus
Hans Holbein the Elder, St. Simpertus venerated by the family of Duke Ambertus of Lothringia (Lorraine); border decoration by Georg and Leonhard (?) Beck. Vita Sancti Simperti, Augsburg, 1492; Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 30044, fol. 1v.

Other important manuscripts include the Ottheinrich-Bibel, the oldest richly illuminated New Testament in German (Middle-Bavarian)--written in between 1430 and 1443--and the famous sketchbook of Stephan Schriber (1470-1494) in which this illuminator shows his experience and skills in German, French, Netherlandish and Italian illumination styles. Magnificent is the 1461 German translation of "Litigatio Christi cum Belial," illuminated for Ludwig I, Duke of Palatine-Zweibrücken by the Master of the Housebook and others, which serves as the main motif of the BSB exhibition-poster. Martial arts manuals known as "Fechtbücher" are also on display, some of them once in the possession of German dukes such as Herzog Ludwig IX of Bavaria-Landshut (reg. 1450-1479) and Eberhard im Bart of Württemberg-Urach (1445-1496).

Several prayer books in Latin, German and Dutch illustrate the intensive private piety of emperors, kings, dukes and pious citizens. The prayerbook made for the Freising canon and imperial counselor Johannes Jung illustrates the spread of German humanism in the early 16th century. Illuminated by the famous Nicolaus Bertschi from Augsburg, it contains prayers in Latin, German, Greek, Hebrew and Syrian.

The show is part of a series of three exhibitions that run from April 13th this year to February 24th next year (for details see homepage of the Bavarian State Library). The last exhibition, which will close the series, starts at November 14th will include the Munich Gutenberg-Bibel, Waldseemüllers Globular World Map from 1507 (bearing the first use of the name "America") and, last but not least the Prayerbook of Emperor Maximilian I, with the world famous drawings by Albrecht Dürer and Lucas Cranach in the Munich part and the illustrations by Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Burgkmair, Jörg Breu, Baldung Grien in the Besançon part. These will be exhibited side by side in Munich the first time together since 60 years.

For more information see the exhibition website:
Bilderwelten - Buchmalerei zwischen Mittelalter und Neuzeit

To order the catalog see: BSB Order Form (Item Number 077), or Amazon.de

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