Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Mirror of Human Salvation

The anonymous 'Speculum Humanæ Salvationis' was written at the beginning of the 14th century and several hundred versions were produced in all major European languages up to the end of the 15th century. The images above come from a 1430 German version.

"In its text and pictures the Speculum contains a vivid account of the religious and artistic forces at work in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the lessons in piety, the allegories, and all of the arts were devoted to instilling in the minds of the people the need for salvation and the dread of eternal damnation. The Speculum is entirely concerned with the Fall and Redemption and with their prefiguration in the Old Testament."
In addition to its widespread popularity over a few centuries, 'Speculum' is one of the most important works in the history of printing. It is the only book from the middle ages that exists in illuminated manuscript, blockbook and incunabula form.

Because it was so widely reproduced and derives from a single origin, 'Speculum' also constitutes a significant body of work in terms of book illustration. The copying, "which followed the precise numerical pattern of the original manuscript [..] and iconography [..] holds a unique place in the study of medieval miniatures in providing an enormous variety of styles and visual interpretations of the identical sequence of subjects."


misteraitch said...

The poor chap in the sixth picture: ouch!

peacay said...

An early Hellfire Club hazing ritual perhaps?

Elron said...

u always have such fascinating stuff :) ... I'm surious if its possible to re-print your stuff elsewhere ... what are the copyright issues? I run an online magazine,, that I'd love to run some of your stuff in, with a link back to your site as well ... mail me at if you are interested ... regardless, love your postsxmzjefi

peacay said...

Every 3rd pixel and all the letter 'Q's are claimed under copyright. Attribution must include a link to the original BibliOdyssey post together with a childhood photo of yourself and an rss-compatible live kipper in beret and tutu.

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