Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ottheinrich Miniatures

Ottheinrich Bible
(15th-16th century : Bavaria)

15th century Bavarian illuminated manuscript bible

illuminated bible manuscript

You will be doing yourself a favour if you click through to the enlarged versions.

Regarded as one of the finest of all illuminated manuscripts in existence, the Ottheinrich Bible was thought to have been commissioned in about 1425 by the Royal Court of Bavaria. The unusually large manuscript was not completed until the following century when the German painter and engraver, Mathis Gerung, was offered 60 Rhenish guilders and winter clothes to decorate the text (the employment contract survives to this day).

The Bible carries the name of the benefactor who supported its completion. Ottheinrich (1502-1559) was the Prince of Neuburg, Elector Palatine, soldier, pilgrim, reformer, art patron (and adopted patron of BibliOdyssey), and the first unambiguously documented owner of the Bible.

The enormous book in the German vernacular language (and that only covers the New Testament) was eventually divided in the 19th century and bound into eight manuscripts which had a partially separated journey over the next century and a half. It was only about two years ago that all volumes were reunited when the privately owned sections were purchased by the Bavarian State Library in Munich (noted).
"Dr Christopher de Hamel, Consultant to the Western Manuscripts department at Sotheby’s [pdf], comments: “In the census of the hundred greatest illuminated manuscripts, European or Oriental, the present example is the only one ever likely to appear on the market. Conceived as the first illuminated bible and on an Imperial scale, it is one of the most profusely illustrated medieval bibles in existence. It is probably the last remaining manuscript in private hands from the incomparable Palatine Library, one of the greatest art collections ever formed. The manuscript has not changed hands except by descent since 1632, and in addition, it is one of the best documented manuscripts in the world, which gives it an academic importance beyond equal."
[In relation to the five volumes sold at auction [pdf] in 2007]:
"written by a single scribe in dark brown ink in a very fine large gothic liturgical hand, opening words of books in larger script, headings in red, capitals touched in red, small capitals and paragraph-marks in red, TWO HUNDRED LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS, mostly 5 lines high in a variety of renaissance designs on coloured panels with delicate tracery in liquid gold, EIGHTY-SIX LARGE MINIATURES up to full-page in size, eighty-three of them the width of two columns and mostly about quarter- to half-page in size, three of the miniatures column-width, all finely executed in full colours and liquid gold, a few original flaws in the vellum, some occasional rubbing and abrasion of miniatures.."

All the images above -- in random order -- are cropped from the full manuscript page and some more images (including full page examples) are available in the flickr set. The set of miniatures available from wikimedia appears to be either older scans or come from the 2002 facsimile publication.


Pablo Lara H said...


Nancy Mattoon said...

Amazing images. Love the third one in which some of the onlookers see the beast,while some are oblivious. And the flames--which look like devilish weaponry--just add to the effect. Thanks so much for this one.

Livia Gnos said...

I just step in here for the first time, what a pleasure to discover all those images... a whole world. thank you so much, I will come back soon and will spend time on these images...

Oscar Devonian said...

Medieval images of the apocalypse make me so happy.

Achmetha said...

I agree 100% with Oscar.

I love everything about this blog. Thank you sincerely for continuing to update and amaze me often. I am on my way to the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle today, and this is a great "pre-funk" heheh.

Jan said...

Wonderful blog...I love these images - everyone tells it's own unique story, some having more than one story to tell.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you.

aj_94 said...

awsome post u should follow my blog to hear my stories

Jenny Kendler said...

As a painter, these are so inspiring. I frequently visit your blog, but haven't commented yet. Just wanted to say that in my opinion, yours is one of the best blogs on the web. Thank you!

peacay said...

Thanks everyone for the kind feedback.

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