Showing posts with label portraits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label portraits. Show all posts

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

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Tale of Two Lovers and an Unknown Image of Emperor Sigismund

Pisanello: Portrait of Emperor Sigismund, 1431-33 
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Emperor Sigismund was one of the most frequently depicted historical personalities of the 15th century. His real and disguised portraits can be found in countless panel paintings, frescoes and miniatures. Entire volumes - such as the Chronicle of the Council of Constance by Ulrich Richental or the Recollections of Eberhard Windecke - are filled with images of Sigismund. You can browse some of these portraits on the website of the 2006 exhibition on King and Emperor Sigismund. Despite this wealth of images from every part of the Holy Roman Empire from Siena to Görlitz, it seems that French and Netherlandish illuminators of the second half of the 15th century really had no clue as to what Sigismund looked like. He is often depicted in historical manuscripts, especially in images of the disastrous Battle of Nicopolis (1396). See, for example the lavishly illustrated copy of Sebastien Mamerot's Chronicle of the Crusades, Les Passages d'Outremer, completed by Jean Colombe around 1474, and held at the Bibliotheque nationale de France and recently issued in a facsimile

A particularly amusing example in this respect is the so-called Pageants of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, which can be studied in this 1908 edition. Completed in 1485, this manuscript is the only illustrated biography of a late medieval secular figure, and features the Earl's various encounters with rulers, including Sigismund. Pageant 35 (on page 138 of the Roxburghe Club facsimile) for example shows the Earl and Sigismund exchanging gifts, and Sigismund is depicted as a fairly young, beardless figure, with a fancy three-tiered crown (see below). More information on this manuscript is available on the website of the British Library.

The visit of Sigismund to England
The Beauchamp Pageants, 1485
London, British Library
I went through a lot of effort to gather such images for the 2006 Sigismund exhibition and its catalogue, but no doubt several manuscripts escaped my attention. I would like to mention just one of these, which is currently on view at the Getty Center's exhibition on Fashion in the Middle Ages. The book is a French manuscript from around 1460-1470, containing the popular Tale of Two Lovers by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (a story he wrote in 1444, obviously before he became Pope Pius II). The story of the two adulterous lovers is set in Siena, at the time of Emperor Sigismund's visit and lengthy stay there on his way to his imperial coronation in Rome (1432). The story is dedicated to Kaspar Schlick, imperial chancellor of Emperor Sigismund (and later of Emperor Frederick III), who is also the main character - Euryalus - of Aeneas’ tale.

You can read an English translation of the entire story on this website; I am quoting the beginning of the story from there, too: