Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The amazing "Book of Hours from Rouen", 15th Century

Three Living and Three Dead

Facsimilium goes back to its origin. We started this biblio-adventure last September (2011) with an amazing example of a traditional -lavish illuminated- european Book of Hours ("Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis cum calendario", 14th Century), link to the post here. And we continue today with probably one of the most amazing Book of Hours I could ever find in any University or digital library available on the internet: The rare Book of Hours from Rouen, France. Why amazing? It has two unusual characteristics. First, was enterely produced and illuminated by a local woman from Rouen, Normandy (but no other information about the author, is a mistery). Second, the codex can be considered as a high detailed chronicle of European gents during medieval ages, as contains several representations of season labors on traditional european farms and villages (shop of money exchange, pruning vines, activities like haymaking, reaping, threshing, treading grapes, baking, feeding pigs, slaughtering of a pig, etc).


Feeding pigs

Slaughtering a pig (November)

As any other Book of Hours, this codex includes the traditional calendar, Office of the Virgin, Penitential Psalms, Litany, Hours of the Cross, Hours of the Holy Spirit, and the Office of the Dead. It has a large amount of lavish illustrations like the Annunciation, with roundels of Adam and Eve with the serpent, the meeting of Mary's parents at the Golden Gate, the marriage of Mary and Joseph, the Visitation (page 34), the Nativity, with roundels of shepherds with musical instruments (page 45), The Angel and shepherds (page 49), presentation in the Temple (page 55) flight into Egypt (page 57), coronation of the Virgin (page 62), King David and the prophet Nathan, with roundels of David and Goliath and the Last Judgment (page 67); Crucifixion (page 83); Pentecost, (page 86); Three Living and Three Dead (image at the top of this post), etc.

Jonah and the whale (see detail below). Entire codex has been digitized with an amazing resolution, caption below was done with a 400% zoom.
Jonah and the whale (detail)

Flight into Egypt
Presentation at the Temple


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Histoire naturelle des colibris, 19th Century

A male "ruby topaz" specimen from New Guinea

Original title for this codex is "Histoire naturelle des colibris : suivie d'un supplément à l'Histoire naturelle des oiseaux-mouches : ouvrage orné de planches dessinées et gravées par les meilleurs artistes : et dédié A.M. le Baron Cuvier".

Author was René Primevère Lesson (1794-1849), a French surgeon, naturalist, and ornithologist, who served as pharmacist and botanist on Duperrey's round-the-world voyage of La Coquille (1822–1825). During this trip, was the first naturalist to see live birds of paradise in the Moluccas and New Guinea. On returning to Paris, he spent seven years preparing the vertebrate zoological section of the official account of the expedition "Voyage au tour du monde sur La Coquille (1826–39)". Very prolific author, he also produced Manuel d'Ornithologie (1828), Traité d'Ornithologie (1831), Centurie Zoologique (1830–32) and Illustrations de Zoologie (1832–35), several monographs on hummingbirds, and one book on birds of paradise. Lesson received the Légion d'honneur in 1847 (Established by Napoleon Bonaparte, this is the highest decoration in France).

 I found a web page (link here) that offers a facsimil edition of Duperrey's round-the-world voyage of La Coquille.

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

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bizzarie di varie figure, or the 17th century modern cubism prelude

This compilation of amazing engravings called “Bizzarie di Varie Figure”, was published in 1624 in Livorno by Giovanni Battista Braccelli (1600–1650), an Italian engraver and painter of the Baroque period. The complete collection appears a prelude of modern cubism, the art movement pioneered by the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, but 400 years after. Some other engraves trend to Arcimboldo style, with human figures composed of boxes or raquets.
About Braccelli, there’s another famous compilation of engravings, the “Alfabeto figurato” which consists of alphabets constituted by acrobatic calligraphy of human forms. Added to this were some vedute of Rome and Roman artworks. He also published a collection of prints of conventional individuals engaged with playing musical instruments, entitled Figure Con Instrumenti Musicali.