Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Casual Baptism

Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1600 titlepage


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) (sol luna)


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) c


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) d


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) j


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) (aurora vesper)


Allegorical Baptism Festival 1600 - Alexander and Persia


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) (Asia chariot)


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) (Barbaria Libya)


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) (Tiranis canibalum)


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) America


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) a


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) Europa


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) e


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) horns


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) k


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) l


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) q


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) (Julius Caesar)


Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen 1596 (1600) i (chapter)


From Munich State Library: 'Beschreibung der historischen und allegorischen Personen der acht Inventionen zum Ringelrennen in den Aufzügen gehalten 1596 anläßlich der Taufe der Prinzessin Elisabeth von Hessen' [BSB Cod.icon. 340]

The work is approximately 150 pages long. I have posted less than a quarter of the illustrations. Each of the ten or so chapters is prefaced by a titlepage, as seen in the final image above. The chapter divisions commence each time with a few pages of beautifully written text. Otherwise there is an illustration on virtually every other page.

This outstandingly eccentric watercolour album portrays the festival held in honour of the baptism of Princess Elizabeth of Hessen in 1596. Mythological and historical figures, virtues, muses and planets are personified through the participants involved in the parade.

I've seen this allegorical style of presentation in festival books before. I'm never sure how much of the artist's display corresponds to an actual role-playing and costume-wearing theatrical parade during a festival and how much belongs to artistic license and court propaganda. Obviously the outlandish elements we see above fall within the latter categories; the album(s) being presumably forwarded to peers in other royal courts to dazzle and impress.

"The festival book is an artistic product, a literary work which can be read in its own right. We should marvel at it in the same way we marvel at a painting. As such it forms part of the festival rather than being simply an account of it." [Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly]

There is some commentary (in German) about this album [which was produced in ~1600, incidentally] at the Munich BSB site. [The online translation doesn't really do it justice.]

3 comments :

Karla said...

Wow... I can assure you that no one brought any severed heads on lances to my baptism. Nor even arrived in a chariot. I feel sorely downcast not to have had Medea, Perseus, Alexander, and other pagan notables presiding over the event.

peacay said...

I sent the link to my neice in the States who has a 3 week old child. I said I'm expecting photos similar to these scenes when (if) the kiddywink is baptizilated

Karla said...

Perhaps your North American readers could all band together and descend upon the (hypothetical) baptismal scene in full regalia. It could be sort of a BibliOdyssey version of Burning Man. (Of course, you'd have to come over and preside.) The infant could be put in some sort of extra-special baptismal trance so as not to be alarmed by the fireworks. And, should traditional baptism not be the correct religious rite in your niece's family, well, I'm sure we could manage something for whatever religion the child is expected to follow.

I'm planning my costume now, and it will make the Halloween getup look tame.

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