15th-century Missal, with Notes and Initials


This musical manuscript at the Bavarian State Library is decorated with 15 initials with tendrils. The initials frame pictures and refer to the chorales of the church year. For stylistic reasons, scholars have dated these illuminations to the last decade of the 15th century and ascribed them to the illustrious Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (circa 1435/40–circa 1501) and his school. Furtmeyr and his followers were important contributors to the age-old Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg) school of illumination. An artist of great renown, Furtmeyr illuminated many impressive works, including this manuscript, the Furtmeyr Bible, and the Salzburg feast missal in five volumes (all now at the Bavarian State Library), and many other works. His major clients for these beautiful religious books were the Bavarian dukes and the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg. In his works, the artist mastered the difficult task of successfully combining pictures, ornament, and text with great authority. Furtmeyr is famous for his handling of colors, his brightly shining illuminations, and the extreme diligence that marks his craftsmanship. Although he was still deeply rooted in the Middle Ages, his love of color, nocturnal scenes, and female nudes mark a transition to the Renaissance.

Last updated: August 28, 2015