Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Artillery Book

16th century explosives and fireworks



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB b



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB c



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB e



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB d



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB m



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB h



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB i



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB l



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB a



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB g



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB f



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB k



Early Modern manuscript warfare drawing -  Artilleriebuch 1582 BSB j



'Artilleriebuch' (BSB Cgm 909) by Walther Litzelmann was recently digitised and uploaded by the Bavarian State Library
.

It is a ~500 page paper manuscript from 1582 filled with sketches of bombs, cannons and fireworks, for the most part. The elaborate titlepage advises (thanks NINA!) that Litzelmann belonged to the Bavarian Armoury or Arsenal at Ingolstadt and that the secrets of saltpetre and gunpowder production would be revealed within.

There are no references to the manuscript or the author online and I would speculate that it is most likely a compilation of designs and recipes from earlier sources.
[See George's detailed comments below]

Previously: combat.

6 comments :

Emily said...

I wonder what's going on in the first picture (with the club-wielding guy in a chariot pulled by demons)-- it looks like a mythical figure or allegory, but I've got no idea exactly what.

peacay said...

Those 'demons' look a little like Anubis, but I doubt that is who they are meant to be. The scene is a typical elaboration for a triumph in a festival book. The tradition of festival and triumph on the occasion of a monarch entering a city or a feast day were often associated with these allegorical depictions of mythology. And, in the present case, fireworks were widely used in these parades. The British Library has a lot of interesting background (as well as illustrated texts) in their Festival Books collection.

George said...

Remarkable. You had to post this on day when I have major deadlines! I think most of the designs are either original or so mundane that the other authors didn't bother with them. This work predates most the theatres of machines so they can't have been a major source. The earlier books of Jacques Besson and Agricola's "De re metallica" may have been inspirations (in particular see images 32 and 190).

A few things stand out about this particular work:
1. The craftsmanship is remarkable. The script is clear and elegant and the drawings are well executed. The author used a compass or template for the circles and deployed a straight edge. But it's not necessarily colored and ornamental like other bilderhandschriften (see your "Cannon Fodder"). It's also complete, unlike some other roughly contemporary books (e.g., "Sketch bombing the mechanical renaissance").
2. It follows a pattern. While looking through it I kept thinking that it was missing sections that *should* be there... and then I found them. For example, I thought there was no detail on gunnery (until I hit image 208). And then I was wondering where the mathematical exercises (image 252+) and patent mathematical instruments (image 260) went. My next question was: where are the bridges? And then the server timed out! In form, the book resonates with the immediately contemporary work of Ambroise Bachot, notably Le Timon.
3. It has numbers. Machine books were notably light on numbers, although they appear in the the marginalia left by contemporary readers (see the "Honeyman Ramelli"). They also appear in works like "De re metallica" and the sketch books left by engineers. Was it a hybrid or did it simply predate the template?

Overall, I think this thing was put together with the intention of publication. But it would have been horrendously expensive to put into print. Besson and Ramelli basically needed the backing of a king to get their works published. There is evidence that Besson's wife basically mortgaged the copper plates of her husband's book! So maybe this thing never made it to print because of the high cost of production.

Thanks pk for bringing this work to a wider audience!

peacay said...

As always George I am indebted to you for supplying some context and analysis. Although I didn't get the specific translation, the titlepage/preface apparently does announce that the work is divided into seven sections, presumably corresponding to those you expected.

The Paper Mulberry said...

The calligraphy alone is stunning! My favourite picture is the one depicting what look to be weapons of torture or gun barrels but also bear a resemblance to a child's rattle of the period??!!! Just gorgeous! I am your newest follower! Warmest wishes from a 16th century farmhouse - Glenda

Oscar Devonian said...

It's amazing to see illustrations like this at the "sketch" stage. This is fantastic!

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