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Treatise of the World's Creation
This manuscript, which contains a Tractatus de creatione mundi (Treatise on the World's Creation) from the Book of Genesis followed by a narration of the Passion of Christ (folios 99r–128v), is one of the most significant examples of late-13th-century Sienese illumination. The pictures, partly watercolor drawings and partly proper illuminations, were made by an extremely sophisticated Sienese artist who was heavily influenced by Transalpine miniaturists and active from around 1290 through the next decade. The illustrations, sketched by a fast, concise hand, stand out for their strikingly smooth ...
Psalter of Frederick II
This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235. By design and execution, the manuscript illuminations combine the color palette of Byzantium with the stylistic rendering of the plasticity of the human body common to the Italian school of the period. Probably executed at the scriptorium in Acri, a hill town in Calabria, the manuscript is decorated with a full-page initial letter encompassing ...
Trevelyon Miscellany, 1608
Thomas Trevilian, or Trevelyon, a London craftsman of whom little is known, created his miscellany in 1608 when he was about the age of 60. The bulky manuscript of 290 double-sided folios contains texts and images appropriated from books, woodcuts, and engravings of his day. Part one of the manuscript (leaves 3–36) consists of historical and practical information: a time line; an illustrated calendar; moralizing proverbs; a series of computational tables and astronomical diagrams; lists of families linked to William the Conqueror; distances between London and cities around the ...
Palestine, Tribes, and Jerusalem
Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the most important French geographers of the 18th century. He worked during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. D’Anville’s approach to geography was geometric; he believed that man’s presence was worthy of acknowledgement only insofar as it helped the cartographer to establish the boundaries of a place. He focused on fidelity to what was documented about the territory in question using knowledge gleaned from travel journals, historical accounts, old maps, poems, and more. D’Anville was ...
This Flemish Psalter from the library of the Irish College in Paris was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1500. The manuscript is written in Latin on vellum, and it has a 19th-century binding. Psalters are religious books, especially popular in the Middle Ages, containing the psalms (poems that are sung) from the Bible, often with other devotional texts. Richly decorated, the Psalter includes a fully illuminated page depicting the Tree of Jesse and a miniature of King David, the main author of the psalms. Twelve illuminations, each composed of ...
The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre: Whereunto is Prefixed a Discourse Declaring not Only the Lawfullness, but Also the Necessity of the Heavenly Ordinance of Singing Scripture Psalmes in the Churches of God
The Bay Psalm Book, as this work is commonly known, is the first book printed in British North America. The Reverend Jesse Glover imported the first printing press to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, some 18 years after the first English settlers landed at Plymouth Rock. A London printer, Stephen Daye, came with the press and established a printing office in Cambridge. The following year, the residents of the colony asked John Eliot, Thomas Welde, and Richard Mather to undertake a new translation from the Hebrew of the Book ...
Jean Fouquet (141?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on ...
The Codex Gigas (or Devil´s Bible) is a large 13th-century manuscript from Bohemia, one of the historical Czech lands. Renowned for its size and its striking full-page rendition of the devil (found on page 577), it contains a number of parts: the Old and New testaments, two works of Josephus Flavius, Isidore of Seville´s Etymologies, the standard textbook for teaching medicine in the Middle Ages known as Ars medicinae (The art of medicine), the 12th-century Chronica Boëmorum (Chronicle of the Bohemians) of Cosmas of Prague, and a calendar ...
The Nuremberg Chronicle
The Liber chronicarum, a universal history compiled from older and contemporary sources by the Nuremberg doctor, humanist, and bibliophile Hartmann Schedel (1440–1514), is one of the most densely illustrated and technically advanced works of early printing. It contains 1809 woodcuts produced from 645 blocks. The Nuremberg entrepreneur Sebald Schreyer and his brother-in-law, Sebastian Kammermeister, financed the production of the book. Michael Wolgemut and his son-in-law Wilhelm Pleydenwurff executed the illustrations in around 1490, a time when their workshop was at its artistic peak and the young Albrecht Dürer was ...
Letter to Philocrates
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
Commentary on Song of Songs; Letter on the Soul; Letter on Ascesis and the Monastic Life
This 14th-century manuscript is a collection of translations into Arabic. At the beginning is the Commentary on the Song of Songs, originally in Greek, by Gregory of Nyssa (died 394), brother of Basil the Great and, with him and Gregory of Nazianzus, one of the three so-called Cappadocian Fathers. Next comes one of the many pieces of philosophy in Arabic attributed to Hermes the Sage, A Letter on the Soul. The manuscript concludes with a letter of Isaac of Nineveh (active, end of the seventh century) on asceticism and monasticism ...
The Song of Solomon
This work is a modern artist’s edition of the biblical Song of Songs, traditionally attributed to King Solomon. The Song of Songs has been interpreted in different ways, ranging from literal interpretations that focus on human love between a man and a woman to those that see it as a divine allegory of God’s love for the Jewish people. This edition, by Israeli artist Tamar Messer, emphasizes the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The text is in Hebrew and English. The original silk ...
A Book of Religious Precepts and Stories
Risālah-yi ‘Azīzah (A book of religious precepts and stories) discusses the establishment and spread of Islam. The literal meaning of the title is “Tales of the Almighty.” The book covers the sources of the ideas contained in hadith (the collective body of traditions relating to the Prophet Muhammad) and compares them with the text of the Qur’an. It also explores the commandments in the sacred books of other religions and relates them to the Qur’an. The works considered include the Injil (the New Testament of the Bible, or ...
The Haftarah of Jonah
This work is an artist’s edition of the Book of Jonah, one of the twelve later or minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible. In the Jewish tradition, a haftarah is a reading from the prophets, which takes place on the Sabbath, festivals, and holy days. With its emphasis on the theme of repentance, the Book of Jonah has become a traditional part of the synagogue service on the holiest day in the Hebrew calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This haftarah was created with original etchings and a ...
Bible (Old Testament) of the Ratisbon Dominican Order
This manuscript forms the first volume of a Latin Bible formerly in the possession of the Dominican Order at Ratisbon (now Regensburg). It comprises several books of the Old Testament as well as interpretations of biblical terms. The manuscript contains unusual miniatures by the noted German Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501). Furtmeyr and his followers were important contributors to the ancient Ratisbon School of Illumination. An artist of great renown, Furtmeyr illuminated many impressive works, including this manuscript, the Furtmeyr Bible, the Salzburg feast missal in five volumes ...
German Old Testament
This two-volume manuscript of a Southern German translation of the Old Testament was written by the professional scribe Georg Rorer from Ratisbon (Regensburg) around 1463, perhaps for the monastery of Rottenbuch in Bavaria. The first volume contains all the books of the Old Testament from the Book of Genesis (with the first part of the Book of Genesis up to 24:19 missing) to the Second Book of Kings, as well as the psalter. The first chapters of the Gospel of Matthew (1:1–5:44) were accidentally bound into ...
Effigies of the Twelve Prophets, According to Raffaello Schiaminossi
This small volume from the Bavarian State Library contains depictions of 12 prophets of the Old Testament: Jeremiah, Moses, Zechariah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Isaiah, David, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Daniel, and Joel. Monumental, with commanding demeanor fitting their functions as seers and admonitors, the prophets appear in wide cloaks flowing amply around them in the drawings, which are crafted in ink with great verve. With spiritual expressions on their faces, they seem to stare at the spectator. Each leaf is signed RAF by the artist Raffaello Schiaminossi (1572–1622), a master of ...
The Furtmeyr Bible
This magnificent manuscript adorned by the Regensburg Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501) is a German Bible containing, from the Old Testament, the books from Genesis to Ruth. A second volume of the Bible, which was commissioned by Ulrich Stauff zu Ehrenfels (died 1472) and his wife Clara Hofer von Lobenstein, is assumed to have existed but unfortunately has not been preserved. After illuminating the so-called London Bible, his oldest surviving masterpiece, Furtmeyr began decorating what is now known as the Furtmeyr Bible between 1465 and 1470. He did ...
Golden Munich Psalter
This manuscript is one of the most lavishly illuminated psalters of the Middle Ages. It includes 91 full-page miniatures, most of which contain gold, in five picture cycles that give an overview of the most important scenes of the Bible, and especially the Old Testament, which is depicted in no fewer than 176 scenes. Among these, several very unusual motifs concerning heroic women are especially noteworthy. The style of the illumination is typical for the transition period between late Romanesque and early Gothic art. With its calendar, the texts of ...
Psalter of Queen Isabella of England
The richly illuminated Isabella Psalter contains the text of the Psalms in both Latin and Anglo-Norman. It is likely that the codex was a wedding gift of King Edward II of England (1284–1327) to his wife Isabella of France (1292/96–1358), presented in 1303–8. The initial to Psalm 119 shows a queen, most likely Isabella herself, kneeling between the coats of arms of England and France. Written for the diocese of York, probably in the workshop of the Augustinian priory near Nottingham (as revealed by the calendar ...
Psalter from Polling
Originating in southwestern Germany after 1235, this marvelous psalter was long preserved in the monastery of Polling, Upper Bavaria, before it entered the collections of the Bavarian State Library. It is especially remarkable for the extensive cycle of biblical scenes that precedes the text of the psalter. Four representations taken from the life of Adam and Eve are followed by scenes from the New Testament, beginning with the Annunciation and with a Majestas domini (Glory of the Lord), surrounded by evangelist symbols at the end. The view of Christ descending ...