Sunday, December 30, 2012

The "Book of Flags", 16th Century

Fribourg/Freiburg, Archives de l'Etat de Fribourg/Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Législation et variétés 53/Gesetzgebung und Verschiedenes 53, p. 1r – Livre de Drapeaux/Fahnenbuch (Book of Flags)
Arms of the City and Republic of Fribourg, surmounted by a third shield, also oval-shaped arms of the Empire. It is surmounted by the imperial crown. The whole is supported by two lions, one holding a sword in dexter and sinister than a world

Fribourg/Freiburg, Archives de l'Etat de Fribourg/Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Législation et variétés 53/Gesetzgebung und Verschiedenes 53, p. 4r – Livre de Drapeaux/Fahnenbuch (Book of Flags)
The arms of bailiwicks, from left to right from the top middle: Corberss (Corbières), Remond (Romont) Ruw (Street) Staffys (Estavayer), Boll (Bulle) Wiypingen (Vuippens) Uberstein (Surpierre) Bossonens (Bossonnens), Chastel-[D] ionized (Châtel-St-Denis), Attalens, S. Albin (St. Aubin), Talbach (Vaulruz), Font, Cugie (Cugy) Plaffeyen (Plaffeien) Jounn (Bellegarde) Corsery (Corserey), Orbach (Orb), Granson (Grandson) Grasburg (Grasbourg) Murtten (Morat), Alten [r] Yff (Hauterive) Chinaulx (Chenaux) 1 , Montenach (Montagny) Gruningen (Everdes) Illingen (Illens) Bridge and Gryers (Gruyère)
Fribourg/Freiburg, Archives de l'Etat de Fribourg/Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Législation et variétés 53/Gesetzgebung und Verschiedenes 53, p. 13r – Livre de Drapeaux/Fahnenbuch (Book of Flags)
Banner of the City of Milan: Round medallion in the center of which is placed Ambrose , the patron saint of Milan, in priestly garb, holding a whip in his right hand and the stick in his left hand, he is surrounded by allegories of the cardinal virtues: Justice, Strength, Prudence and Temperance. Part of the medallion bears the following legend: + COMVNITASMEDIOLANI in Roman capitals (Enlarge the image to observe letters)

In 1646, the Petit Conseil or Executive Council of Fribourg, equivalent to the Canton of Fribourg, commissioned Pierre Crolot (did my best but couldn't find complete BIO, so far) an artist from the Free County of Burgundy, with the task of illustrating the flags and banners that were carried by Fribourg troops on campaigns in Sundgau, Burgundy, and Italy (at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century), which were then displayed in the church of St. Nicholas.
These objects themselves disappeared without a trace in 1822, with the exception of two ceremonial vestments of the Order of the Golden Fleece (which are now on display in the castle of Gruyere). The book contains a total of 240 illuminations: three frontispieces show the city’s coat of arms, its bailiwick, and the coats of arms of the members of the Executive Council; 30 tables reproduce the banners, and 9 tables portray Burgundian clothing items and tapestries. The “Book of Flags” is an art object, valuable as a record of objects that have been lost, as well as a witness to the glory of the Fribourg troops in the late middle ages.
Technical details about the codex: Parchment: 42 plates, size 31 x 48 cm. Original title (classic german): "Fahnenbuch". Hosted at Archives de l'Etat de Fribourg (Freiburg), and also well known (even best) as "Le Livre des Drapeaux de Fribourg"

Fribourg/Freiburg, Archives de l'Etat de Fribourg/Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Législation et variétés 53/Gesetzgebung und Verschiedenes 53, p. 16r – Livre de Drapeaux/Fahnenbuch (Book of Flags)
Banner of Milan (II) Round medallion in the center of which is placed St. Ambrose, in the same suit and the same attributes, but it is not surrounded by allegories. The medallion is placed in the center of a white cross occupying the whole field of the flag. In each canton is inscribed the motto libertas, lowercase Gothic, surmounted by a crown.
Fribourg/Freiburg, Archives de l'Etat de Fribourg/Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Législation et variétés 53/Gesetzgebung und Verschiedenes 53, p. 22r – Livre de Drapeaux/Fahnenbuch (Book of Flags)
Flag of Pierre de Gingins, lord of Châtelard, killed in June 1476 defending Tour de Peilz against the Bernese
Fribourg/Freiburg, Archives de l'Etat de Fribourg/Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Législation et variétés 53/Gesetzgebung und Verschiedenes 53, p. 25r – Livre de Drapeaux/Fahnenbuch (Book of Flags)
Etendard of Louis XII, King of France and Count of Pavia

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Book of Hours of Henry VIII, 15th Century

The miniature shows Adrian's two-part martyrdom. He is seated on the anvil, his intestines having already fallen out, as two executioners begin to hack off his legs. Adrian looks heavenward, while in the background Natalia prays contentedly; the emperor, at the left, directs the torture. N. of the A. : for further detail regarding St. Adrian's BIO go to the end of this post...

The Book of Hours of Henry VIII is hosted in the Morgan Library & Museum, in New York under H.8 tag (Henry 8). Receives its name from the possible but unproven eighteenth-century tradition that holds King Henry of England once owned this splendid manuscript. This lavish Book of Hours -I've seen a lot but the detail on each illumination in this manuscript makes this in particular unique- receives its name from King Henry VIII of England, second monarch of the House of Tudor. About the author, Jean Poyer, was a French miniature painter and manuscript illuminator, active from 1483 until his death. He worked in the courts of Louis XI of France, Charles VIII of France and Louis XII of France.
The manuscript contains the standard texts—Calendar, Gospel Lessons, Hours of the Virgin, Hours of the Cross, Hours of the Holy Spirit, Penitential Psalms with Litany, Office of the Dead, and Suffrages; as well as a number of common accessory prayers.
References: (internal,) see other related posts on facsimilium- The amazing "Book of Hours from Rouen", 15th Century and Book of hours (use of Rome), 15th Century. External references: about The Book of Hours of Henry VIII, I do recommend the spanish editor Manuel Moleiro webpage (english version available). For the rest of this post, I'll focus on the splendid calendar -located on manuscript first chapters-:

(January) Inside, the lord of the house sits at his meal, his back to the hearth, as his wife, closer to the fire, warms her hands. While a heavy snow covers the land, a laborer carries a few logs from the woodpile into the manor.

February's labor is not much different from January's. The lord of the house, richly dressed in fur-lined garments and hat, raises the folds of his clothes, the better to warm his backside. His attention has been caught by his servant, who enters with flagons of wine.

In the early spring month of March, work begins outdoors with the typical labor of pruning the vineyard. Workers trim the leafless vines and tie them to the grape arbor. A wood cask for drink is in the foreground.

 With April, the landscape becomes green and alive, and the month's activity is not laborious, but one for the leisure class. A foppishly dressed youth, his hands filled with freshly picked spring flowers, waits while his lady friend weaves the blossoms into a garland.
Another leisurely couple partakes of May's pleasure, the gathering, on the first of the month, of flowering or leafing branches. While one dog slowly leads the couple along a dirt path marked by branches tied across tree boughs, a second dog runs deeper into the woods on an uncharted track.

Summer's hard labors of the begin in June with the mowing of the hay. Three men rhythmically attack the field with large scythes. Two women rake the loose hay into stacks. Behind them, a wagon waits to be filled. In the foreground at the right are the workers' bundles of food and casks of drink.

The summer harvest continues in July with the reaping of the wheat. Four men, minimally dressed to keep cool, carefully cut the stalks with sickles and lay them in neat bundles. As in June, the foreground features, in the manner of a still life, their containers of food and drink.
The wheat harvest continues in August as the cut stalks are brought in oxcarts to the barn, where three men beat them with jointed flails. Threshing with flails loosens the kernels of wheat from their stalks so that they can then be winnowed and thus separated from the chaff.

The task for September is wine making, an activity that requires a division of labor between men and women. In the fields in the background, seated women pick the grapes, while a man stands, awaiting a full basket to bring to the winepress. Inside the barn men dump their baskets into large winepresses where the fruit is trampled. Crushed, the grapes are then transferred to a large vat from which, at the bottom, the liquid can be extracted for storing and aging in the nearby barrels.
In October the winter wheat is sown. The man at left sows the field with grain he holds in his apron. The man on the right plows his field with a team of white horses.

In November the labor is to take the pigs to the forest and rattle the branches of the oak trees so they shed their acorns, thus fattening up the animals.

The portrait of this post is about St. Adrian's Martyrdom. Adrian (or Hadrian) was a young Praetorian Guard in Nicomedia under Emperor Maximian (r. 286–305). The soldier was converted by witnessing the steadfast confidence of a group of Christians under torture. Impressed by their constancy, he asked to be counted among their ranks. Needless to say, Adrian was promptly arrested and imprisoned. His new wife, Natalia, (a secret Christian) was overjoyed, ran to the prison, and encouraged him to remain firm in his new faith, kissing his chains. When he learned the date of his impending martyrdom, the saint convinced the guards to allow him to tell his wife so that she could witness the event.

On the day of his death (ca. 300), Adrian was first beaten so severely that his "bowels fell out." After he was returned to prison, the emperor ordered that the legs of all the imprisoned martyrs be broken on an anvil and cut off. Natalia, who was present, additionally requested that the guards cut off her husband's hands, so that he would be equal to other saints who had suffered more. After Adrian's death Natalia managed to get away with a hand (holding it to her bosom), taking it with her to Argyropolis, where she died peacefully.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Matriculation Register of the Basel Rectorate, 15th Century

The Matriculation Register of the Basel Rectorate, from Basel University -founded in 1460, it is Switzerland's oldest university-, has been recorded in manuscript form from 1460 to 2000 (!!). Not sure about the last years, no info is available about this codex-register on Basel University official web site (or at least I couldn’t find).
The register contains semester and annual information notices added by each successive rector as well as lists of enrolled students, providing an important resource for the history of the University of Basel.
First three volumes are richly illuminated, not the rest of volumes of this collection. (Images on this posts are mainly from volume one and three, where I could find the most lavish color illuminations). The work of 3 centuries is easily datable due to the chronogical order in which it was added and thus provides a welcome demonstration of the art of miniature painting in Basel.

Additional technical information about the codexes: Format: 29 x 20,5 cm, number of pages is variable (volume 1 has 232), Page layout: writing space and number of lines alternately. Student lists are often not from the same hand. Page titles are usually available, some written by the individual principals, partly. Does not contain handwritten messages by students.
An easy option for an intro to the Basel University is wikipedia (link here).
For a high resolution, pdf version of this manuscript, contact me (facsimilium AT gmail DOT com).

As a curious note, some of the persons that appear on the ALUMNI LIST:

Emil Abderhalden (1877–1950), Swiss biochemist and physiologist
Paul Erdman (1932–2007), American business and financial writer
Carl Jung (1875–1961), Swiss psychiatrist, and founder of Analytical Psychology
Michael Landmann (1913–84), Swiss philosopher
Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903–94), Israeli public intellectual and polymath
Alice Miller, psychologist and author
William Theilheimer (1914–2005), German scientist
Paul van Buren (1924–98), American Christian theologian and author
Iona Yakir (1896–1937), Red Army commander

Erasmus, Paracelsus, Daniel Bernoulli, Jacob Burckhardt, Leonhard Euler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Eugen Huber, Carl Jung, Karl Barth, Hermann Peter, Hans Urs von Balthasar are also mentioned on the register (sometimes as collaborators, in the alumni list, etc.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Loccupletissimi Rerum Thesauri Accurata Descriptio“ or the rarest natural objects ever seen, 18th Century

What we have today is another excellent representative case of science revolution in all Europe during 17th-18th Century. When I investigated to write this post, I couldn't avoid feel same admiration I felt when I got deep in detail writing Robert Hooke's post ("The Micrographia"). 
Albertus Seba -A pioneer of the empirical science- simply started as apprentice of Pharmacy, preparing drugs with his own secret formulas, most of the times based on exotic plants and animals. His studio was located in Amsterdam, close to the harbour, so he was in contact with captains and ship surgeons -or simply sailors- to bring him exotic specimens, he later used to prepare his “formulae”. He also prepared drugs, some of his customers were Kings, like Peter the Great. Mr Seba’s house was full of well preserved snakes, insects, shells, lizards… His collection included all sorts of exquisite pieces from the East and West Indies, among these no less than 700 jars containing the rarest exotic animals and many particularly rare snakes. Even the finest and most complete butterflies collection from the 4 corners of the Earth.

Seba did not stop there, he continued the search for new methods, collecting natural specimens from distant lands, studying them, and testing their potential uses. His passion for collecting and researching often extended beyond immediate pharmaceutical applications. In many instances apothecaries started major natural history collections and contributed personally to the growing knowledge of nature. Seba's collection of natural specimens also went far beyond what was required for the normal exercise of his profession.
Seba commissioned artists to make meticulous drawings of these diverse objects from his collection. He went on to publish these drawings, supplemented by commentary, in a four-volumed set entitled Loccupletissimi Rerum Thesauri Accurata Descriptio (abbreviated in the following as Thesaurus, or the rarest natural objects ever seen -that's my particular translation-). All the plates I'm posting on this blog entry are part of this Book.

This large and magnificent work, incorporating an impressive total of 446 copperplates, was published between 1734 and 1765, hence also posthumously. Seba made a lot of money selling his collections. Once he sold a collection, he immediately set about establishing a second one that eventually became even larger!!
Some of the images I post below are from Taschen color facsimil edition of the "Loccupletissimi Rerum Thesauri Accurata Descriptio“.

External links related
Albertus Seba's collection of natural specimens and its pictorial inventory, by TASCHEN Books Group, link here.
One of my Blog Sponsors, Amazon, has also a facsimil ed. for this amazing Book. Good flexibility: 2 new brand, price is 2495 USD or 8 used, better price: 625 USD (at least until November 1st, 2012)... I  can't afford any option :) -so far-. Anyway link to Amazon for this is here.
theguardian made a brief article about this Book, text is poor but they host some color versions of the B/W images I posted here today. Link to access is here.
And finally, the surprise (I was really impressed about this) : The Biodiversity Heritage Library has a complete "OCRed" digital facsimil. That means that you can even do text searchs on the original... Goood JOB! I think I'll spend more time on the biodiversity heritage web page ;

For a high resolution, pdf version of this manuscript, contact me (facsimilium AT gmail DOT com).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The “Leabhar Cheanannais” or “Book of Kells”, 9th Century

The Book of Kells is probably the reason why I started this biblio-adventure blog. Was trying to obtain the complete digital facsimile of this medieval jewel, visiting virtual libraries and digitalization Projets around the world when I decided to start writing my personal book of books -somehow, an "archivistic projetc"-. A blog about ancient manuscripts and rare books was a good option...
This codex is considered one of Ireland's greatest treasures. The name "Book of Kells" is derived from the Abbey of Kells, County Meath, which was its home for much of the medieval period. The manuscript's date and place of production have been the subject of considerable debate and don’t want to continue here. For consideration only: there are at least five competing theories about the manuscript's place of origin and time of completion.
For me the most incredible mystery is how the book survived in that incredibly good condition to our present days, taking specially into account that Kells Abbey was plundered and pillaged by Vikings many times in the 10th century (the book remained in Kells until 1654). Another mistery is regarding its lavish and complex decorations. Some of them can only be fully seen with magnifying glasses, although lenses of the required power are not known to have been available until hundreds of years after the book's completion.
About its contents, The Book of Kells contains the text of the four Gospels, that’s all. It’s based on the Vulgata (a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible), but evidences suggests that when the scribes were writing the text they often depended on memory rather than on other copy. Probably because no other copy was available in the Abbey and they were just trying to save their own way of life (Vikings were continuously pillaging the coasts and inner lands of Hibernia, moors invading Hispania from north Africa, absolutely hard times for Christianity from 8th to 10th in Europe).

There're at least the following facsimile editions for the codex. I could obtain a high quality digital copy 3 years ago, but I think is not available anymore. If interested contact me (facsimilium AT gmail, dot com). Swiss publisher Urs Graf Verlag Bern produced the first facsimile in 1951, but black and white only. In 1974 and under license from the Board of Trinity College Dublin, Thames and Hudson produced a second facsimile in color. After that, Trinity College officials denied more reproductions, to avoid damage the Book due to the pass of pages process. But later in 1986, Faksimile-Verlag developed a process that used suction to straighten a page so that it could be photographed without touching it and so won permission to publish a new facsimile. There're other later partial reproductions but the base for the total facsimile, in which each page was photographed, was the 86 copy. With new digital techniques developed during this last decade, corrections have been applied to obtain the best facsimile, published in 2006 and also digitized in high quality pdf and jpg formats.

Google made an awesome doodle this year to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, clearly inspired in the Book of Kells. I recommend the link to the doodle creator, here... see doodle super close-ups

Technical description of the Book:
  • Written primarily in “insular majuscule” with some occurrences of minuscule letters (usually e or s).
  • Identified at least three scribes in this manuscript, as usual they were named as hand A, B and C. Hand A, for the most part, writes eighteen or nineteen lines per page in brown color. Hand B has a somewhat greater tendency to use minuscule and uses red, purple and black ink and a variable number of lines per page. Hand B is not constant as A, changes the number of lines per page, which is not normal in medieval manuscripts. And finally, hand C is found throughout the majority of the text, with a great tendence to use minuscule, at least in comparison with hand A.
  • Illuminations: There are ten surviving full-page illuminations including two evangelist portraits, three pages with the four evangelist symbols, a carpet page, a miniature of the Virgin and Child, a miniature of Christ enthroned, and miniatures of the Arrest of Jesus and the Temptation of Christ. 

And finally, my favorite anecdote of the amazing Book of Kells. There’s an error located at Matthew 10:34b. It should read "I came not to send peace, but a sword," but the manuscript reads gaudium ("joy") instead of gladium ("sword") and so translates as "I came not [only] to send peace, but joy”

An image of the Virgin and Child. This is the oldest existent image of the Virgin Mary in a European Western manuscript. The iconography of the miniature may derive from an Eastern or Coptic icon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Variae architecturae formae, 17th Century

This architecture Book is all about perspective. Compiles engravings from Hieronymus Cock, Hans Vredeman de Vries (most of them published on his Book “Small architectural perspective views”) and Jan van Doetecam, published in 1601 by Theodor Galle as part of the 1st ed. of the present work. There’s a 2nd ed. by Theodor's son Jan (undated).
Engraves are about building interiors, courtyards, and city streets with canals placed within oval frames set in rectangles, corners are filled with ornament of various sorts.
Codex has no text or table of contents, no page numbers; and has been digitized by Getty Research Institute. 

-Updated on October 14th- The usual list of External links (recommended):
For a high resolution, pdf version of this manuscript, contact me (facsimilium AT gmail DOT com).

Monday, October 8, 2012

The "Saptasalokīgītāṭīkāvāle", or Veneration of Hindu deities (18th Century)

First hindu manuscript on facsimilium (they are hard to find!!): The "Saptasalokīgītāṭīkāvāle" is a richly illuminated collection of different texts of praise, unified as a popular pocket book, to be used in private or public veneration of various Hindu deities: Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati, Sita, Rama, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Radha and Krishna, Mata Shakti, Mata Tripori Sondari Devi, Shiva Bhagwati (Akingam, Anantnag), Sharda Mata Temple at Gushi (Kupwara)

Codex is structured as follows:
  • First two chapters are a selection of verses taken from different sections of the well known Bhagavadgītā with an extensive Hindi commentary in the first section. Both are presented as a discourse between the legendary figure Arjuna and the deity Krsna. The verses include discussion of themes regarding self-realization and mental focusand draws parallels between such knowledge and the knowledge of the Vedas.
  • Third section is dedicated to the ten Visnu avatāras and derived from different sections of the Mahābharata. A number of other praise (stotra) texts follows and includes a short collection of stotras attributed to the medieval philosopher Samkara. Text is incomplete, but ends with a set of praises and mantras directed at the deity Śiva. Regarding the term "Avatar", many denominations of Hinduism such as Vaishnavism and some schools of Saivism teach that occasionally a god comes to Earth as a human being to help humans in their struggle toward enlightenment and salvation (moksha). Such an incarnation of a god is called an avatar, or avatāra. Hinduism teaches that there have been multiple avatars throughout history and that there will be more.
The manuscript includes 13 painted illustrations, most of which are for the avatāras of Visnu.

Codex is hosted by Penn Libraries at Pennsylvania University (My favourite section is "Selected Manuscripts").