Thursday, November 06, 2014


A Calligraphy Master's Album

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. a

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. c

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. f

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. i

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. k

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. b

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. j (cropped)

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. m

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. n

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. h

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. d

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent.

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. g

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. l

'Werke der Schönschreibmeister' by FH Brechtel (1573) is available from Bamberg State Library in Germany.

The 24 page paper manuscript is dominated by Middle German blackletter scripts with extravagant embellishment, and a minority of the pages contain 'less' ornamental writing in Latin.

The manuscript appears to be a compilation of calligraphic examples by one of the originators of early fraktur^ scripts, Johann Neudörffer the Elder, to whom this album is dedicated. The manuscript's title - something like: The Beautiful Works of the Master Scribes - is also suggestive of Brechtel having assembled a set of Neudörffer's calligraphy output, rather than his presenting an adaptation or transformation from the originals. [Later: I'm informed the title is plural, meaning Master Scribes or similar; so we might presume the album script examples come from a variety of sources beyond simply Neudörffer']

Neudörffer was an important educator and he published text books in Nuremberg on writing which dominated teaching curriculums for a couple of centuries; and his calligraphy endeavours were similarly admired. Neudörffer is also honoured as the first biographical historian of German artists, though his 'Nachrichten' (1547) wasn't published until the 1800s. He was lucky enough to have counted Albrecht Dürer as a friend and neighbour!

There is not a lot of information about Franz Joachim Brechtel (that I can find) online. It would appear that his main claim to fame and employment stems from music sheets that he printed. I'm unsure whether he was the composer or simply the designer/publisher of the sheet music. In either case, his name is associated today with more than a hundred pieces of music that I - just - randomly found on the internet (so a role as composer seems more likely, though I didn't dig into it).

  • Neudörfer (or Neudörffer), Johannes (i.e., Johann), der Ältere at the Dictionary of Art Historians.
  • Brechtel at Musicalis.
  • 'Lied und Liederbuch in der Frühen Neuzeit' 2009 by A Classen and L Richter features some biographical commentary on Franz Brechtel - (snippets)
  • ADDIT: go see Thony's very interesting post at The Renaissance Mathematicus wherein he expounds greatly on the printing scene in Nuremberg in the 15th/16th centuries.
  • Thanks Jeanne!
  • Previously (specifically) on BibliOdyssey: Nuremberg Scribe features elaborate scripts produced by Stephan Brechtel - likely a brother of Franz - and there's a link in there to a post on the Brechtel family of calligraphers 
  • Previously on BiblOdyssey: the many posts under the tag of calligraphy.
  • The Schönschreibmeister post first appeared on the BibliOdyssey website.


Anonymous said...

Neudörfer was also the brother in law of the printer publisher Johannes Petreius who published Copernicus' De revolutionibus. Neudörfer managed the publishing house when Petreius visited the book fairs in Frankfurt or Leipzig. Neudörfer also designed the type face for Dürer's maths book "Underweysung der messung mit dem zirckel und richtscheyt in Linien ebnen unnd gantzen corporen" Nürnberg 1525

peacay said...

Thanks very much Thony, I've added a note/link in the commentary. Glad to see *someone* has done the hard yards at any rate.

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that I#m not the only person on the Internet who knows about Johannes Neudörfer ;))

Unknown said...

brilliant. we must also mention Arabic calligraphy when discussing Schönschreibmeisters

peacay said...

Um..well, we're talking about blackletter fraktur script calligraphy in this piece. If you go through the posts under the calligraphy/Arabic double tag at delicious, your wish will be granted.

Anonymous said...

Wow, these are glorious!

A correction on the title, which you give (counting the "later" note) as "The Beautiful Works of the Master Scribes". "Werke der Schönschreibmeister" means "Works of the Master Calligraphers". "Schön+schreib-en" means literally "beautiful + writ-ing": exactly the same, in German, as our "calli+graph-y" (from Greek roots). And "Schön+schreib+meister" is "master(s) of calligraphy".

peacay said...

Thanks for your input. I've changed the translated title slightly, but I've left it as scribes; it's really a question of semantics at this point.

Anonymous said...

(This is off the subject but relevant to your site itself.) Your clock seems to be fast. Here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we are on US Eastern Standard Time = UTC -5. I just posted the previous comment at 9:28 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 1 (UTC 14:28 = 2:48 p.m.)

But your timestamp on it is "02 December, 2014 01:28". Unless you're in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Micronesia, or Srednekolymsk, or somewhere else near the International Date Line that uses UTC+11, your system clock is way fast.

peacay said...

Relax, the time is correct. For me.

Anonymous said...

SORRY! I was using!cities=198 and was misled by Victoria's using the next zone to the East.

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