Showing posts with label manuscripts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label manuscripts. Show all posts

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Exhibition and Database of Corvinian Manuscripts

A new exhibition at the National Széchényi Library puts the famous library of Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) in focus again. This time, the title and the theme of the exhibition is the Buda workshop of Corvina manuscripts  The aim of the exhibition is to present the joint efforts of humanists, illuminators, bookbinders and the scribes of Buda, in order to create luxurious royal manuscripts in the capital as well.  For this exhibition, A lot of splendid Corvinian manuscripts have arrived in National Széchényi Library from various parts of the world, from New York, Paris, the Vatican, as well as from Hungarian collections. In fact, Visitors of the exhibition have the unparalleled opportunity to look at almost all the Corvinas, nearly fifty codices, preserved in Hungary. together. The exhibition demonstrates that in addition to the splendid Renaissance codices ordered from Italy, similarly precious and decorative manuscripts were made in the royal court of Buda as well. The exhibition is very well organized, beautifully installed, and is equipped with various interactive tools, enable for example the browsing of manuscripts on display. The first part presents the precursors of the Buda workshop - especially the books, including Greek manuscripts of Janus Pannonius, which were later incorporated into the king's library. The Graduale of King Matthias, one of the important non-Italian books commissioned by the king is also on view here (OSZK Cod. Lat. 424). The second part presents a number of Italian illuminators who worked at the Buda court, not just for the king but also in the service of high-ranking prelates. The main focus of the exhibition is on the last five years of the rule of King Matthias (who died in 1490) when production greatly increased. This was the time when uniform leather bindings were made for the manuscripts as well. Among the highlights on view, I would point out the Cassianus Corvina from Paris (BNF Cod.Lat. 2129), the Vatican Missal (Urb. Lat. 110), or the National Library's Philostratos Corvina (OSZK Cod. Lat. 417).

The Breviary of Domokos Kálmáncsehi, 1481

The curator of the exhibition is Edina Zsupán, and the exhibition will remain on view until February 9, 2019. You can read more about the exhibition on the National Library's website.

At the time of the opening of the exhibition, the newly redesigned and updated Bibliotheca Corviniana Digitalis was launched. It is a great improvement compared to the earlier version, with a much nicer interface and - most importantly - with a lot more digitized manuscripts. All the manuscripts held in Hungarian collections are available right on the website, while links point to digitized manuscripts all over the world (finally making my own little list unnecessary). A new image-viewer and thousands of new photographs - including superb details - make the manuscripts much more accessible than ever before. The database also includes the complete bibliography of the Corvinian Library, with direct links to publications available online. With this new version, the website can truly serve as the starting point for all research focusing on the Bibliotheca Corviniana of King Matthias.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Previously unknown image of Emperor Sigismund identified

Emperor Sigismund and the Electors,
German-language copy of the Golden Bull of Charles IV
Stadtarchiv Ulm A Urk. Ve. 1356 Januar 10, fol. 1v  

At an exhibition held last year at Neuburg an der Donau, the chief work in focus was a 15th-century Bible, the Ottheinrich Bible. Regarded as the earliest surviving illustrated manuscript of the New Testament in the German language, it was originally commissioned around 1430 by Ludwig VII, the Bearded, Duke of Bavaria-Ingolstadt. It was illuminated by three Regensburg painters, but its decoration remained unfinished - only to be completed by the artist Mathis Gerung in 1530–31. The manuscript was later split up into eight volumes, and after a rather complicated history, now all of its parts are at the Bavarian State Library in Munich - on their website, you can browse the digitized volumes of the Bible. 
The exhibition, titled Kunst und Glaube, contained lots of interesting objects, as far as I can tell based on the catalogue. I was most interested in objects dating from the period of Ludwig VII of Bavaria (Duke of Bavaria-Ingolstadt between 1413-1447), a contemporary of King and Emperor Sigismund, and a noted patron of the arts. Perhaps the most well-known of his commissions is the small-scale model of this tombstone, made by Hans Multscher around 1435 (Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum). This tomb was never executed in full size. The Ottheinrich Bible was also one of his important commissions, which remained unfinished. 

Double page from the Ottheinrich Bible, c. 1430 (vol. 2.)
One of the objects in this section was a fragmentary manuscript of the Golden Bull of Charles IV, which was illuminated by the workshop of the Ottheinrich Bible (the so-calle Matthäusmaler). The manuscript was executed in Regensburg, and its surviving fragment is kept at the Town Archives of Ulm (See catalogue record). The fragment was identified as dating from this period by professor Robert Suckale, who provided a study about the Ottheinrich Bible for the catalogue (and also contributed to the catalogue entry in question, cat. no. 5.18). The fragment consists of only three leafs, containing a German translation of the Golden Bull issued in 1356. On the verso of the first folio, a group portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor with the Electors is depicted (see above). As Sigismund was also the King of Bohemia from 1419, only six Electors are depicted around the Emperor. On fol. 2r, the fragment also includes the full page depiction of coat of arms of a certain Hans Kastenmayer of Straubing - an image very similar to those included on armorial letters issued by the imperial chancery at that time, and the fragment also contains a nice initial. 

Decorated page of the Ulm fragment

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Monograph on the Hungarian Angevin Legendary published by CEU Press

The long-awaited English edition of the monograph on the Hungarian Angevin Legendary, written by Béla Zsolt Szakács, has finally been published by CEU Press in Budapest. 
The Hungarian Angevin Legendary is perhaps the most important illuminated manuscript connected to the Angevin rulers of Hungary. It is a painted legendary, which in its current fragmentary state presents 58 legends (including the life of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary) on lavishly illuminated pages. Each page contains four scenes from the lives of the saints, and the images are only accompanied by short captions. The largest part of what remained of the codex was bound together in the eighteenth century in a volume housed in the Vatican Library. Some of the missing pages, often incomplete, have found their way into collections from the United States to Russia - most of the pages being preserved at the Morgan Library.

As of today, altogether 142 leaves from the Legendary (some of them fragmentary) are known in six different collections of the world. Since the digitization of the codex Vat. lat. 8541 by the Vatican Library, images of every page are available online (I have collected all the pictures on Pinterest). It is possible that some other fragments will come to light, as the original number of folios is estimated at 176. The quality of its execution and its sheer size indicate that the manuscript must have been a royal commission, and its iconography – rich in Hungarian and Angevin saints – suggests it was created for the court of the Hungarian Angevin kings.

Scene from the Legend of St. Ladislas
(Vatican Library)
The monograph provides a detailed analysis of the image cycles contained in the dispersed manuscript: it provides a reconstruction of the original manuscript, analyses the different narrative of saints and their arrangement, and explains the significance of certain narratives. The book analyses the system of selecting and arranging the legend within the book, and also deals with the structure of the individual narrative cycles. Another part focuses on image types recurring in the lives of several saints.

The book was originally published in 2006 in Hungarian. The English edition has been updated, among others with additional bibliographical references, and it also contains a much higher number of illustrations than the original version. The new volume was presented by Ernő Marosi at CEU on June 23, 2016. The book is available at the publisher as well as at any good bookseller. 

Scenes from the Life of St. Alexis. The State Hermitage Museum

Scenes from the Life of St. Francis. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Béla Zsolt Szakács (PhD 1998) is head of the Department of Art History at Pázmány Péter Catholic University and associate professor of the Department of Medieval Studies at CEU, also contributing to the Cultural Heritage Program. He has been active in a CEU research project focusing on the visual resources of medieval East Central Europe in the framework of which he was extensively dealing with the Hungarian Angevin Legendary. His major research fields are Christian iconography, medieval architecture in Central Europe and the history of monument protection.

Bibliographical data: Béla Zsolt Szakács: The Visual World of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary (Central European Cultural Heritage Series, Volume I.). Budapest: CEU Press, 2016 (350 pages, 142 color illustrations, ISBN 978-963-7326-25-7)

Every surviving part of the manuscript is available online, please use the links below:

Vatican Library, Vat. Lat. 8541
New York, The Morgan Library, M.360.1-26
St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum
Paris, Musée du Louvre (more information on this leaf here)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Unfinished Florentine Bible of King Matthias digitized

Firenze, BML, Plut. 15.15
Once more I would like to report about the digitization of some very important volumes originally destined for the famed library of King Matthias Corvinus, the Bibliotheca Corviniana. This time I discovered that the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana added the digital version of Matthias' Florentine Bible to their database. Other Corvinian manuscripts in Florence have been available online for some time. Many of these volumes remained unfinished when Matthias died suddenly in the spring of 1490. Most of them entered the library of Lorenzo il Magnifico, among circumstances analysed in detail by the studies of Angela Dillon Bussi,

The most lavish commission of King Matthias was a three-volume Bible - perhaps the largest book-project ever started for him. The books and their miniatures were most recently analysed by Dániel Pócs, who states that the model for these commissions are to be found at Central Italian courts: he cites the two-volume Bible of Borso d'Este (Modena, Biblioteca Estense) and the two volume Bible made in Florence for Federigo da Montefeltro (Vatican Libraries). 

The Florentine books remained unfinished. The first volume, containing the books of Moses, was started by the workshop of Attavante degli Attavanti - only parts of the ornamental title page were executed (see left). The second Old Testament volume remains fully without decoration - but spaces were left our for miniatures. The third volume contains the Psalters as well as the New Testament (it is generally referred to as the Florentine Psalter of King Matthias), and it was to be illuminated by Gherardo and Monte di Giovanni. This process got further ahead than in the case of the other volumes - the magnificient double title page of the volume was finished. However, the coat of arms of Matthias are missing from the bottom of the page, indicating that work stopped as soon as news about the death of the ruler reached Florence. In any case, this double page is one of the absolute highlights of Italian Renaissance illumination.

Firenze, BML, Plut. 15.17
Firenze, BML, Plut. 15.17

I have also noticed that several Corvinian manuscripts have been incorporated into the World Digital Library, maintained by the Library of Congress. In particular, several volumes from the Laurenziana in Florence and the Bavarian State Library in Munich have been added to this database. The interface of the WDL is very simple and user-friendly, and photos of individual pages can be downloaded. The dataset of Corvinian manuscripts also includes another gem, which I failed to notice before: the Encyclopedia medica or Historia plantarum of the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome. This is one of three manuscripts known from the Bibliotheca Corviniana which were previously owned by King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia. The manuscript got to Buda via the brother of Wenceslas, King Sigismund. 

All of the above manuscripts have been added to my checklist of digitised manuscripts from the Bibliotheca Corviniana. The total number of digitised Corvinas now reached almost 120. Previous blog posts about the Bibliotheca Corviniana can be reached on this link.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Corvinian manuscripts digitised

The very exciting digitisation process at the Vatican Library is going ahead at full speed, and the Library has made available online two manuscripts from the famous Bibliotheca Corviniana, the library of King Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490). The manuscripts are the following:

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Ms. Urb. lat. 110

The Missal of Matthias Corvinus, 1488-1489

The manuscript was made for King Matthias in the Buda workshop. The coat of arms of Matthias and his wife Beatrice of Aragon can be found on several pages.
It is a richly illustrated volume, with stylistic connections to Lombardy.
See also the catalogue page with bibliographic references. 

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
Missale fratrum minorum secundum consuetudinem Romanae curiae

This is a Franciscan Missal commissioned by King Matthias, and given to a Franciscan friar named Thomas (so technically, this is not a Corvinian manuscript, as it was not part of the Biblioteca Corviniana). The book was illuminated by an Austrian painter active in Vienna.

With the two books above, the number of Corvinian manuscripts online now exceeds 100. On this occassion, I decided to move my checklist of digitised manuscripts over to this blog - you can reach it any time from the menu above. The version on my website is now obsolete - links have been checked and fixed on the version here in the blog. I also added links to two manuscripts digitised at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Corvinian manuscripts on view in Budapest

The Polybios-Corvina at the exhibition. Photo: National Széchényi Library 
Four precious manuscripts from the famed library of King Matthias Corvinus, the Bibliotheca Corviniana are on view for a short time at the National Széchényi Library in Budapest. The four manuscripts are the ones which were returned to Hungary by Sultan Abdülaziz in 1869, so the exhibition is titled: The Sultan's Gift. Four Corvinian Manuscripts from the Serai.

The exhibition takes us back not only to the period when King Matthias (1458-1490) established the first major Humanistic library of Europe outside Italy, but also to the 19th century, when Hungarian aristocrats and scholars carried out a long-term struggle to reclaim at least a few volumes from the library of Matthias Corvinus. Works in the library numbered 2500 at the death of the king, while several manuscripts were still unfinished for him in Florence (these entered the library of the Medicis). Soon after his death, this library began to lose volumes - first western Humanists started taking volumes, as gifts from King Wladislas II (who was less interested in books). Then during the period when Hungary started battling the Ottoman Empire, and was beset by internal strife (between the Battle of Mohács in 1526, and the capture of Buda in 1541), this process accelerated. A lot of the volumes were then taken to Istanbul when the castle of Buda fell to the Turks. As a result of this long process, by the early 19th century, not a single Corvinian manuscript was known within Hungary. The first manuscript to return to Hungary (more specifically, to Transylvania), was a Tacitus volume acquired by Sámuel Teleki for his library at Marosvásárhely in 1805 (the manuscript today is at the Beinecke Library of Yale University). Several attempts after this were unsuccesful to acquire a Corvina manuscript for the nation's capital, Buda. Although the Dialogues of Ludovicus Carbo, a rather modest early Corvinian manuscript, was donated to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1840, this failed to create significant interest (but now it is available in a digital facsimile edition, with commentary). Finally, attention was focused to Istanbul, in hopes that some of the manuscripts can be identified there. In 1862, Ferenc Kubinyi, Arnold Ipolyi and Imre Henszlmann finally identifed some manuscripts in Istanbul, at the library of the imperial palace. Then in 1869, on occasion of the opening of the Suez canal, the sultan gave four volumes to Emperor and King Franz Joseph I. The ruler then duly gave the manuscripts the National Museum (from which they entered the National Library along with other manuscript material). The in 1877, Sultan Abdul Hamid II decided to donate a further 35 manuscripts to Budapest, which entered the University Library (it soon turned out that only about 13 of these manuscripts originate from the library of King Matthias - for more information, read the study of Csaba Csapodi on the history of the library).

The title page of the Trapezuntius-Corvina. National Széchényi Library 

The present exhibition features the four manuscripts returned to Hungary in 1869. The manuscripts are the following (with link to digital facsimiles):

Cod. Lat. 234: The Historiae of Plolybius, a Florentine codex dating between 1450-1470
Cod. Lat. 241: Plautus: Comediae, a Florentine codex from before 1459
Cod. Lat. 121: A Neapolitan manuscript of Augustinus' De civitate Dei
Cod. Lat. 281: The Rhetorica of Trapezuntius, a Latin translation of the work in a manuscript made in Buda in the 1480s.

The binding of the Augustinus-Corvina, photo taken during
 installation. Source: National Library Facebook-page
The exhibition was organized in connection with the Budapest Book Festival, the guest of honor of which is Turkey. Becauses of this, a few Turkish manuscripts are also on view, as well as the early 16th century genealogical roll of Turkish emperors (Genealogia Turcorum imperatorum) by Felix Petancius. The books are only on view until May 6th. The curator of the exhibition is Edina Zsupán - she is also featured in a well-documented article about the installation process (in Hungarian).

To receive more information on the Corvinian manuscripts, please take a look at these pages of my website and blog: New research on the Corvinian Library (with links to full-text publications), and my page on digitized Hungarian manuscripts, with direct links to over 100 Corvinian manuscripts. You can also get a lot of more photos on the Facebook page of the library.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Conference on Early Medieval Illustrated Texts in Budapest

Apollonius Pictus manuscript: National Széchényi Library

There will be an international conference dedicated to early modern illustrated texts next week at the National Széchényi Library in Budapest. The symposium, organized jointly by the Library and Pázmány Péter Catholic University, is titled: Facing and Forming the Tradition. Illustrated Texts on the Way from Late Antiquity until the Romanesque Times.

The conference represents a new step in the research initiated by the publication of a study-volume and facsimile of the Apollonius Pictus manuscript held at the Széchényi Library. A number of prestigious international scholars, who have already dealt with the manuscript, will be present at the conference. The event is organized by Anna Boreczky and Béla Zsolt Szakács, and will be held on 18th – 20th March, 2014. The programme of the conference can be seen and downloaded from below (thanks for Gábor Endrődi for uploading it):

You can also read the conference abstracts on Scribd. I am really looking forward to this event! More information is available on the website of the library.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Poland to digitise medieval manuscripts

Wroclaw, University Library, R 492 
As reported, Wroclaw University Library in Poland is teaming up with IBM to digitize nearly 800,000 pages of European manuscripts, books, and maps dating back to the Middle Ages. This will include over 1100 medieval manuscripts. Until now, these documents were accessible to only a handful number of students and scientists. Through this digitization project, the Wroclaw University Library can now provide access to this material to anyone via Internet. The project is already in full swing - in the database of the library, currently 674 medieval manuscripts can be accessed. The material is also available via the Europeana portal.

The news gave me a chance to update my list of digitised Corvina-manuscripts (which is a service I maintain, as the official Digital Corvina Library website seems to be defunct). I was able to add a Greek-language Corvina manuscript to the database, which can be browsed in the Digital Library of Wroclaw University (Horologium, R 492). Along with another volume in Toruń, at the Nicolaus Copernicus University Library, as far as I know only these two Corvinian manuscripts preserved in Poland are available online.

To see further Corvinian manuscripts online, navigate to the manuscripts page of the website on the Art of Medieval Hungary!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Medieval exhibitions in New York

I am currently on vacation in the New York area, and thus I had a chance to explore the museums of New York City a little bit. As always, there are plenty of medieval things on offer here - the following is my recommendation to lovers of medieval art (you can have a look at what NYC had to offer last summer in my earlier post).

The Corvinus dish. Metropolitan Museum 
The Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to medieval art, opened 75 years ago, in 1938. To celebrate the anniversary, there is a special exhibition there, titled Search for the Unicorn. The focus of the exhibition is the most famous set of objects in The Cloisters: the Unicorn tapestries. The exhibition, consiting of about forty works drawn mainly from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, provides an overview of the subject of unicorns in medieval and Renaissance art and belief. One of the highlights for me was a well-known piece, the magnificent Corvinus-dish with the coat of arms of Matthias Corvinus and his wife, Beatrice of Aragon, showing the unicorn and a maiden. The dish - along with related pieces in the Victoria and Albert Museum and at Berkeley - was made in Pesaro, likely for the wedding of Matthias and Beatrice in 1476. Another object of Hungarian connection on view was a bone saddle from the series generally associated with King Sigismund's Order of the Dragon.

While the exhibition itself is not too large - and the focus of it is part of the permanent display of the Cloisters - it was good to see that the renovation and reinstallation of the Cloisters galleries is now complete, and the works can be enjoyed in wonderful circumstances.

Jean Barbet: Angel, 1475
The Frick Collection 
Accross Central Park from the Metropolitan Museum, at the Bard Graduate Center, a special exhibition also drawn from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum can be seen, dedicated to Georges Hoentschel. Salvaging the Past: Georges Hoentschel and French Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art focuses on Hoentschel as a collector and a ceramic artist. The highlight of the exhibition is his collection, which entered the Metropolitan Museum as a gift of J. Pierpont Morgan in the early twentieth century, and consist largely of medieval objects. This section displays medieval artworks, including sculpture, ivories, and metalwork, and includes one of the finest surviving examples of French Limoges enamelwork: a twelfth-century reliquary container. The most dramatic object, however, is on loan from The Frick Collection: a large bronze angel from Lyon, dated 1475. The exhibition is on view until Aug. 11.

Elevation of the Eucharist, detail from the Della Rovere Missal
Italy, Rome, ca. 1485–90
The Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library & Museum presents and exhibition of medieval manuscripts, titled Illuminating Faith: The Eucharist in Medieval Life and Art. According to the website, "featuring more than sixty-five exquisitely illuminated manuscripts, Illuminating Faith offers glimpses into medieval culture, and explores the ways in which artists of the period depicted the celebration of the sacrament and its powerful hold on society." The exhibition features some of the highlights of the Morgan Library's collection, such as the Stefaneschi Missal or the Farnese Hours, as well as a few medieval liturgical objects. A selection of objects is available on the website. You can read more about the exhibition in the Huffington Post. I would like to mention that a manuscript made in Buda (Hungary) is on display as well: the Kálmáncsehi Breviary and Missal, dating from 1481 (MS G.7).

Finally, I would like to call attention to one exhibition which I have missed: Writing the Word: A Selection of Medieval Latin Biblical Manuscripts in Columbia Collections was on display in Butler Library at Columbia University, until July 5. The exhibition featured codices and fragments from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) and the Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary. The manuscripts, which span the period from the eighth to the fifteenth century, demonstrated the range of scripts, formats, and versions in which the Latin Bible circulated during the western European Middle Ages.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Facsimile of Budapest Concordantiae caritatis published

Death of the Virgin from the Budapest Concordantiae caritatis
As reported by the blog, the facsimile edition of the Budapest Concordantiae caritatis (1413, Budapest, Central Library of the Ordo Scholarum Piarum, CX 2) has been published by Schöck Art Print. It is an exclusive, leather-bound limited edition facsimile edition.

As the publisher states: The Budapest Concordantiae caritatis is the most richly illustrated medieval manuscript in Hungary. The work contained in it is that of a fourteenth-century author, Ulrich von Lilienfeld, who between 1345-1351 was the abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Lilienfeld, Lower Austria. Concordantiae caritatis is a typological manuscript. Only eight copies of the Concordantiae caritatis known today contain illustrations and of these few the Budapest manuscript is worthy of a high position due to the high quality and completeness of its cycle of illustrations. As the colophon betrays, the text was written in 1413 by the Viennese burgher Stephanus Lang, in his own home. Seven artists, visibly in contact with each other but of varying education, participated in the illustration of the Budapest Concordantiae caritatis. Of them the most talented one can be linked with the circle of the Master of the Sankt Lambrecht Votive Picture, a group whose style became dominant in Viennese panel painting in the first third of the fifteenth century.

The text above was written by Anna Boreczky (National Széchényi Library), whose doctoral dissertation was dedicated to this hitherto little studied manuscript, and who edited the commentary volume to the facsimile. It is to be hoped that a more simple edition of the manuscript and the commentary volume will make this little-known treasury much more widely known. The facsimile edition - along with the edition of the Budapest Apollonius pictus, also edited by Boreczky - was presented today at the Hungarian Academy in Rome.

You can find some information (in Hungarian) about the manuscript on the website of the Piarist Order. You can also read the abstract of Boreczky's dissertation here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Medieval manuscripts of Batthyáneum available online

The Batthyáneum Library of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia, Romania) is one of the most important historic libraries in Transylvania. It was founded in 1798 by Ignác Batthyány, the bishop of Transylvania. The library was housed in the former church of the Trinitarian order - first an observatory was created here, and later the library was established in the building (all this was modeled on the Archdiocesan Library of Eger). The library of Batthyány grew from many sources, but the most important among these was the library of Christoph Anton von Migazzi, the bishop of Vác and also the bishop of Vienna. Batthyány bought the 8000 volume library of Migazzi, which included a lot of medieval manuscripts. When established at Gyulafehérvár, the Batthyáneum held about 20.000 volumes - a number which continued to increase throughout the 19th century. In addition to simply being a library, the institution worked as a museum, holding Batthyány's collection of minerals and naturalia, as well as a collection of ecclesiastical art. Finds from the excavations of Gyulafehérvár cathedral carried out by Béla Pósta in the early 20th century are also kept here.

The 20th century history of the library was not free from controversy: some books were sold in the 1930s, but the institution continued too function as a public library even after the Trianon peace treaty awarded Transylvania to Romania. However, in 1949 the collection was nationalized, and later became part of the Romanian National Library. Access to the collections became very limited - a situation which continues to this day. Even though a government decree returned the building and collection of the library to the Roman Catholic Archbishopric of Gyulafehérvár, the Library still functions as part of the state library system, and the court cases going on have so far not clarified the situation.

The library holds today altoghether 927 manuscripts and 565 incunabula, making it the richest collection of this kind of material in all of Romania. The medieval manuscripts are of various origins: Migazzi's library included all kinds of western manuscripts, but Batthyány also bought complete medieval libraries from Hungary, including the holdings of the ecclesiastical libraries of Lőcse (Levoča / Leutschau, Slovakia, see this Hungarian language study with German summary: Eva Selecká Mârza: A középkori Lőcsei Könyvtár, Szeged, 1997.). Several Transylvanian collections were also incorporated into the library, and there are rich holdings of orthodox Romanian manuscripts in the collection. In the framework of a European digitization project, a large number of manuscript are now available in the Manuscriptorium platform. In fact, there is a special section dedicated to manuscripts from the Batthyáneum.

The library holds a large number of first class illuminated manuscripts - many of which can now be consulted online. The following is a selection of a few of the most important of these (providing direct links to pages of this dynamic website is quite complicated. I managed to make direct links to the digital facsimile pages below - but you may start to browse or search from the start page, to get to object descriptions, etc.)

Ms II 1, first part of the Lorsch Gospels (Codex Aureus of Lorsch), from the Palace workshop of Charlemagne, dating  around 810 (on the history of the whole manuscript, see also this overview)

Ms III 87, a nicely illustrated early 15th century Franco-Flemish Book of Hours

Ms II 134, A Missal from Pozsony (Bratislava / Pressburg), dating from 1377, with explicit by Henrik of Csukárd

There is a lot more there - you can start browsing from the start page, Manoscriti qui in theca batthyanyana. Furthermore, you can find some more illuminated manuscripts from the Europeana database - not all of which have been made available in the current digitization effort.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

'Apollonius pictus' facsimile published by National Széchényi Library

The National Széchényi Library just announced that an exclusive facsimile edition of the so-called Apollonius manuscript has been released, accompanied by a collection of studies by international authors.

The oldest medieval manuscript of the National Széchényi Library is a fragment, which has recently been identified (COD. Lat. 4). It contains a late-antique "adventure novel" of the story of King Apollonius of Tyre. The novel enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages. The manuscript contains not just the text of the novel, but 38 uncolored pen drawings, making it the oldest illustrated copy of the story. Despite the importance of the manuscript, it has been almost completely unknown.

The parchment manuscript was written around the year 1000, in the Benedictine monastery of Werden an der Ruhr, situated in the archdiocese of Cologne. The manuscript remained there during the Middle Ages, but then entered a collection in Cologne. By the 18th century it was held at the Evangelical Convention in Sopron, from where in 1814 it entered the National Library.

The manuscript was identified and first analysed by two researchers, Anna Boreczky and András Németh, and by 2010, a number of foreign researchers - most notably Xavier Barral i Altet - were involved in first phases of research, the results of which were presented to the public on December 8, 2010. The present facsimile edition is the result of a international collaboration, and is accompanied by multi-language commentary. The commentary volume starts with an introduction by Ernő Marosi, and was written by Xavier Barral i Altet, Anna Boreczky, Herbert L. Kessler, András Németh, Andreas Nievergelt and Beatrice Radden Keefe. In addition to the basic data and a bilingual (English and Hungarian) description of the manuscript, a critical edition of the text is also included. 

Data of the volume: Apollonius pictus. Egy illusztrált, késő antik regény 1000 körül. / An illustrated, late antique romance around 1000. Ed. Anna Boreczky and András Németh. Budapest, Széchényi National Library, 2011.

The above text is based on the information released by the National Széchényi Library. A review will follow, once I get hold of the publication. Below is one page of the fragmentary manuscript.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New medieval art websites VI.

A number of very useful online image databases have been launched recently, dedicated to late medieval / northern Renaissance painting. Also, access to digitized medieval manuscripts is getting more and more easy. Here is a selection - the following descriptions are based on texts given on the websites themselves.

Museum Mayer van den Berg

Flemish primitives - This website was created by the association of Flemish art museums, The Flemish Art Collection, and so is a collaborative project of Belgian museums in Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges. The goal is to present a website that is a reference point for the painted arts in the Burgundian Netherlands in the 15th century and early-16th century. Visitors can search paintings from Flemish museums or follow thematic collection presentations. It seems that over 400 paintings are available in the database now - I hope that image management and viewing options will improve later on.

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 
A lot more information and much more images are provided by the newly launched Cranach Digital Archive (cda). This is "an interdisciplinary collaborative research resource, providing access to art historical, technical and conservation information on paintings by Lucas Cranach (c.1472 - 1553) and his workshop. The repository presently provides information on more than 400 paintings including c.5000 images and documents from 19 partner institutions." The Cranach Digital Archive is a joint initiative of the Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf and Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences / Cologne University of Applied Sciences, with several partner institutions. It is highly recommended (via 1100sor).

University of Pennsylvania 

More and more medieval manuscripts are also being made available online. Last Fall, the University of Pennsylvania finished the digitization of their manuscripts collections, making the books (including over a thousand medieval and renaissance manuscripts) available at the Penn in Hand website. The University of Chicago is providing online access to the Goodspeed manuscript collection, comprising 68 early Greek, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Arabic, and Latin manuscripts ranging in date from the 5th to the 19th centuries. Yale (Beinecke Library) and Harvard (Houghton Library) have been providing access to their early codices for quite some time now. Meanwhile, it has been announced that the union catalogue of medieval manuscripts in America is returning to the University of California, Berkeley. It is now at the url:

Hungarian Academy of Sciences 
While we are on the subject of manuscripts, I would like to call attention to a special resource from Hungary (it is not new, but perhaps not too many people know about it). It is the Kaufmann-collection of medieval Hebrew manuscripts in the Oriental Collection of the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The website provides an introductory study on the collector, Dávid Kaufmann and his collection, and the complete facsimile of five manuscripts. All of this is available in Hungarian, English and even Spanish. The manuscripts include the famous Kaufmann-Haggadah, originating from 14th century Catalonia, which has already been published in a print facsimile.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Royal manuscripts (New medieval art websites V.)

The year 2011 has been particularly rich in medieval exhibitions of a very high standard: while the National Gallery in London showed Devotion by Design: Italian Altarpieces before 1500, the Treasures of Heaven exhibition also traveled to London and was shown at the British Museum. The latter is now also amply covered by a new website, a 'digital monograph' made at Columbia University's Media Center for Art History. In Germany after an exhibition on the Hohenstaufen dynasty and Italy, which closed in February, now the Naumburger Meister exhibition is on view at Naumburg. In Paris, the Museé de Cluny dedicated and exhibition to the medieval sword, titled L'Épée - Usage, mythes et symboles. There were also several exhibitions on medieval manuscripts, including two on medieval fashion. The Getty Museum had several other temporary displays of medieval manuscripts, such as Stories to Watch, while the Louvre in Paris also displayed its medieval manuscript pages.

However, the end of the year still has two major exhibitions for everyone enthusiastic about medieval manuscripts. The first one is already open at the Royal Library of Belgium, in Brussels, and is dedicated to Flemish miniatures. As the press release states, in making this project, the Royal Library of Belgium and the Bibliotheque nationale de France joined for the first time to display and celebrate the heyday of Flemish manuscript illumination by organizing an exhibition of international significance. The exhibition began in Brussels (September-December 2011), and will continue in Paris (March-July 2012). In total, more than 140 illuminated manuscripts of the highest rank will be presented to the public in an original staging, that will showcase these exceptional pieces while maintaining the context in which they were born. The project is of course accompanied by a scholarly catalogue. You can read about the exhibition here or here, as well as in the French-language press release (pdf)

From Nov. 11, the British Library (London) will show Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination, displaying "a unique treasure trove of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts assembled by English kings and queens over 700 years." The 150 manuscripts in the exhibition represent the most stunning pieces from the library's collection, the largest group of medieval manuscripts in Britain and one of the most important in the world. The Medieval and Earlier Manuscript Blog of the British Library regularly posts on outstanding items to be featured in the exhibition.

Those not fortunate enough to travel to one of these exhibitions, can now browse fully digitized versions of royal manuscripts on the website of the Europeana Regia project. The project aims to "digitise 874 rare and precious manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with the collaboration of five major libraries located in four countries and the support of the European Commission. The project will draw together three collections of royal manuscripts that are currently dispersed and which represent European cultural activity at three distinct periods in history: the Biblioteca Carolina (8th and 9th centuries), the Library of Charles V and family (14th century) and the Library of the Aragonese Kings of Naples (15th and 16th centuries)." Several dozen manuscripts are already online.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Leaf from Hungarian Angevin Legendary on view at the Louvre

Leaf from the Hungarian Angevin Legendary
Louvre, Paris
This summer, from July 7, 2011 until October 10, 2011, the Louvre is showing its Medieval and Renaissance Illuminations in an exhibition featuring seventy Italian, French, Flemish, and Germanic manuscript pages from historical, literary, or liturgical manuscripts. As the homepage of the exhibition states, "the Louvre’s collection of illuminations remains little known, despite the famous masterpieces it comprises. The publication of the collection’s catalogue raisonné is an opportunity to discover these exquisite works." 
You can read more about the exhibition at the website, as the Louvre itself does not provide a lot of information. I realized therefore from a recent article in the International Herald Tribune that a very important manuscript leaf with Hungarian connections, a leaf from the Hungarian Angevin Legendary is also on view (Département des Arts Graphiques, RF 29940). The page shows four scenes from the life of St. Francis, and can be seen here to the left (photo source: RMN).

The Hungarian Angevin Legendary is the most important 14th-century Bolognese manuscript made for Hungarian royal patrons.This lavishly illustrated picture-book of the lives of the saints contains four miniatures on each of its pages, accompanied by one-line text labels. The majority of the dismantled manuscript is preserved in the Vatican Library, but there are leaves from it in a number of other collections, most notably at the Morgan Library in New York. As of today, altogether 142 leaves from the Legendary (some of them fragmentary) are known in six different collections of the world. I am providing direct links to photos and descriptions of some of these page on my website about Medieval Hungary. It is possible that some other fragments will come to light, as the original number of folios is estimated at 176. The 549 surviving little pictures contain parts from the legends of altogether sixty-three saints, plus from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The quality of its execution and its sheer size indicate that the manuscript must have been a royal commission, and its iconography – rich in Hungarian and Angevin saints – suggests it was created for the court of the Hungarian Angevin kings. According to earlier opinions, the codex could have been ordered by Charles I, king of Hungary (1307-1342), for his son, Andrew educated in Naples, or for his own library. This somewhat romantic notion, based on the naive theory that medieval picture-books were meant for children, has recently been called into question (see the study of Béla Zsolt Szakács: "The Holy Father and the Devils, or Could the Hungarian Angevin Legendary Have Been Ordered for a Pope?," In: ... The Man of Many Devices, Who Wandered Full Many Ways ... Festschrift in Honor of János M. Bak. Ed. by Balázs Nagy and Marcell Sebők. Budapest: CEU Press, 1999, 52-60.), but no new proposal has yet been generally accepted. With regards to its style, the research of Meta Harrsen, Robert Gibbs and others have clarified its connections with the Nekcsei-Bible (on which you can read my recent study, which I made available through, and thus with the circle of the Master of 1328. However, Tuscan, South-Italian and unidentified features are also present in the manuscript's style, and its iconography shows deep Hungarian influence; thus, the place of its creation might have been in Hungary. The dating of the codex, based on these hypotheses and stylistic examination, can be put between 1328 and 1345.

The leaf in the Louvre was first published in detail by Gyöngyi Török ("Problems of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary: a new folio in the Louvre," In: Arte cristiana vol. 89 (2001), 417-426), who also wrote on it in the new catalogue. A Hungarian version of her study is available here. Those with JSTOR access can read another study by Gyöngyi Török ("Neue Folii aus dem 'Ungarischen Anjou-Legendarium,'" In: Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte vol. 55. (1992), 565-577). Another study on a leaf at Berkeley is also available online (Julia Bader - George Starr: "A Saint in the Family: A Leaf of the "Hungarian Anjou Legendary" at Berkeley," In: Hungarian Studies vol. 2 (1986), 3-12). Pages from the manuscript were last on display at The Morgan Library and Museum, in 2009. Another leaf from the legend of St. Francis is at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Exhibitions on Medieval Fashion

Two different exhibitions, both dedicated to medieval fashion are open at the same time: one at the West Coast of America, the other one at the East Coast. First to open was the exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. Titled Illuminating Fashion: Dress in the Art of Medieval France and the Netherlands, the exhibition is on view from May 20 through September 4, 2011. Its curator is Roger S. Wieck, Curator of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at the Morgan Library. The exhibition coincides with the publication of Anne H. van Buren's long-awaited monograph on the subject. The book is "the first comprehensive history of fashion to be based exclusively on firmly dated or datable art. Drawing mainly upon illuminated manuscripts, this book also features panel painting, tapestry, sculpture, and early printed books produced in France and the duchy of Burgundy during the late medieval period – a time of rapid change in dress."

The website of the exhibition provides and online tour of the manuscripts on view. You can read about the exhibition in The Art Newspaper or on the website.

From May 31–August 14, 2011, the exhibition Fashion in the Middles Ages is on view at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The exhibition was co-curated by Kristen Collins, associate curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Margaret Scott, scholar of medieval fashion and author of the accompanying exhibition publication. You can read more about the exhibition in the press release of the Getty Museum, and you can also download an exhibition checklist (pdf).

The website also reported on the exhibition.

If you can't get to the US this summer, you can also see fashion in medieval manuscripts in Paris. The gallery Les Enluminures also opened an exhibition on fashion in its Paris space in the Louvre des Antiquaires. Approximately 35 works of art are featured in “Dressing Up and Dressing Down in the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Costume in Art,” from May 5 to August 25. Organized by gallery owner Sandra Hindman, the exhibition is accompanied by an online catalogue (pdf). You can get more information on this project from this video. This being a commercial gallery - you can even buy the artworks on display!