October 16, 2012

Ratisbon Missal

For stylistic reasons, the nine miniatures in this missal depicting Jesus and his mother, the crucifixion, and Jesus rising from the tomb, as well as several initials with tendrils have been dated to the 1470s and ascribed to the school of the noted German Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501). Folios 325–36 include musical notation, and there is a full-page image of the crucifixion on folio 338. 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 (all now at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany), and many other works. The artist shows his mastery of 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. This missal was transferred from the Ratisbon (Regensburg) City Library to the Bavarian State Library in 1812.

Mirror of Government

This magnificent manuscript was written by Leonhard Heff in Ratisbon (present-day Regensburg) and must have been produced — according to a note in the text — in or around 1476. Bound by the Ratisbon Black Friars, it later was transferred to the nearby Benedictine monastery of Saint Emmeram and from there to the Bavarian State Library. It contains the text of Speculum regiminis (Mirror of government) by Philippus de Bergamo (Giacomo Filippo Forèsti, 1434–1520), an Augustinian monk who was an expert on canon law, known for his great philosophical erudition, and the author of several important historical works. Speculum regiminis is an extended commentary on Catonis Disticha (The distichs of Cato), a popular medieval schoolbook for teaching Latin and moral values. The manuscript was illuminated by the noted German Renaissance painter Berthold Furtmeyr (active 1460–1501) with ten opaque watercolor initials in blue, rose, green, red, bluish grey, and gold, with leaves and tendrils. 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 (all now at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany), and many other works. The artist shows mastery of 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.

Bible of the Ratisbon Dominican Order

This manuscript containing the books of the prophets and other biblical texts forms the second volume of a Bible formerly in the possession of the Dominican Order at Ratisbon (Regensburg). It contains extraordinary 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 (all now at the Bavarian State Library in Munich, Germany), and many other works. The artist shows his mastery of 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.

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), the psalter was illuminated by the workshop of the Tickhill Psalter (preserved in the New York Public Library, Spencer 26). Both psalters are among the most richly illuminated English psalters of the 14th century. The Isabella Psalter features three independent cycles of illumination with scenes from the Old Testament. The first shows views of the Creation. The second is a cycle of the life of King David, with special scenes relevant to a queen, including a wedding and the hiding of the king. A third cycle, in the bas-de-page of the Anglo-Norman version of the psalter, shows scenes and animals of a bestiary, largely based on the Physiologus (a popular medieval bestiary, derived from an earlier Greek source), while the initials of the Anglo-Norman text show coats of arms, mostly of English knights. The Isabella Psalter remained in England up until the 17th century or early 18th century. It was in the library of Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria (1756–1825, king of Bavaria 1806–25) and subsequently became part of the present-day Bavarian State Library.

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 to hell in the upper pictorial area and that of the king of hell in chains in the lower picture field are particularly impressive. The paragraphs within the text of the psalter are marked by lavish initials in bright gouache opaque water colors on a golden ground surrounded by a frame. The initial at the beginning of the text of the psalter, the tendrils of which are peopled by human figures, stands out for its complexity and lively details.

Psalter from the Nonnberg Convent, Salzburg

This psalter originated in the Upper Rhine region in around 1250–60. It exemplifies the art of representing saints within psalter initials. Because the saints are not accompanied by descriptions, only a few of those portrayed can be identified with certainty based on their attributes, such as Saint Catherine holding her wheel and Saint George slaying the dragon. In accordance with tradition, David is displayed with his harp inside the initial at the beginning of the psalter; above him is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the dove. Gold and silver majuscules on blue or rose ground, decorated with fine white ornament, mark the beginning of each psalm or canticle. A multitude of motifs in red and blue ink drawings are woven into fill patterns at the end of the lines throughout the whole manuscript. Besides a variety of leaf and tendril motifs there are birds, fish, dragons, angel heads, and many other subjects. Over the course of the centuries, this magnificent psalter was housed in several places: it belonged to both the Cistercian monastery of Stams in the Tirol and the Benedictine nunnery in Salzburg before coming to the Bavarian State Library, where it is now preserved.