Saturday, January 26, 2008


Apokalypse 57v

Apokalypse 60v

Apokalypse 69v

Apokalypse blockbook manuscript 72v

Apokalypse block book manuscript 74r

Apokalypse blochbuch 75v

Apokalypse 77r

Apokalypse 83r

Apokalypse 15th century mss 92r

Apokalypse 93v

Apokalypse 95r

Apokalypse 99v

Apokalypse 101r

Apokalypse 102v

Apokalypse 105v

"The Apocalypse, or Revelation to John, the last book of the Bible, is one of the most difficult to understand because it abounds in unfamiliar and extravagant symbolism, which at best appears unusual to the modern reader. Symbolic language, however, is one of the chief characteristics of apocalyptic literature, of which this book is an outstanding example. [..]

The Book of Revelation cannot be adequately understood except against the historical background that occasioned its writing. Like Daniel and other apocalypses, it was composed as resistance literature to meet a crisis. The book itself suggests that the crisis was ruthless persecution of the early church by the Roman authorities; the harlot Babylon symbolizes pagan Rome, the city on seven hills. The book is, then, an exhortation and admonition to Christians of the first century to stand firm in the faith and to avoid compromise with paganism, despite the threat of adversity and martyrdom; they are to await patiently the fulfillment of God's mighty promises."
"The Apocalypse is a xylographic book [see 'Totentanz Blockbook' for more info/links on this printing technique] printed from full-page blocks carrying two horizontal pictures, and with the texts usually cut in framed rectangles within the picture borders. The images are done in outline with no shading or cross-hatching and there is no background landscape. There were six editions of the blockbook, the last three probably German. All have forty-eight leaves, except the third which has fifty and a revised text. It was copied from the earlier editions by an equally skilled cutter who probably is responsible for cutting both the text and the images. The second edition is printed from the same blocks as the first but with signature marks added (the same letter appears within facing pages on a sheet).

It is generally agreed among scholars that the Apocalypse is the most ancient of the blockbooks although there is wide divergence of opinion on the date of the first edition, ranging from about 1400 to as late as 1450–52. Manuscripts of the Apocalypse seem to have originated in northern France and in England and were very popular. From manuscripts,[..] the fantastic and bizarre subjects, texts, and the format of the blockbooks were derived. The style, the composition, and the iconography of the pictures were inspired by models in both manuscripts and tapestries, such as the numerous versions listed in the inventories of the collections of the Dukes of Burgundy. In fact the woodcuts are closely related to the famous Apocalypse tapestries [i, ii, iii] at Angers, made about 1380 by Nicolas Bataille, after the miniatures or drawings of an artist working for the Burgundian Court, Jean Bandol, called Hennequin de Bruges."
The images above come from a late 15th century compilation blockbook [Cod Pal. Germ 34] of which the 'Apokalypse' (4th ed.) forms one section. The printed text is in latin but handwritten german translation sheets were inserted between the blockbook pages. The book is hosted by the University of Heidelberg (click the '-' sign at the top of the page for thumbnail images).


Aníbal said...

Very nice blog, love it.

anthony said...

Excellent post. The University site is pretty extensive, with scans of the backs of these illustrations.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Great blog, and great scans -- and information. Thank you.

Unknown said...

One of the interesting things about the images from this manuscript is they they reveal the stylistic roots of our modern day comics. The imagery is divided into smaller panels and the text layout is just a few steps removed from the dialogue bubble.

Cultura Fonds Library said...

Hello, thanks for visiting our library. AMong my links you find a few links for book history in Belgium, among it our national library ( Would you mind adding this to your links? another interesting one is the Plantin-Moretus Museum. With best wishes.

anthony said...

what happened to the boat?

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