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Exhibit Highlights

burns library

The Art of the Book from the Early Middle Ages to the Renaissance: A Journey Through a Thousand Years

Original Exhibit Fall 2000

This exhibit offers a survey of the art of the book from the introduction of the vellum codex to the invention of printing and movable types. The Burns Library, German antiquarians Dr. Joern Guenther of Hamburg and Dr. Axel Bender of Dusseldorf, and a number of private collectors, including Lorenz Reibling, all contributed to the exhibit.

This is a single leaf, pen-and-ink drawing on vellum, dating from 10th century Germany. In the center of the leaf a man with halo is depicted dressed in an antique robe and bare-foot. He holds a preciously adorned book in his left hand, while raising his right hand in a gesture of benediction. The characteristic style of the figure suggests that this is a representation of Christ, who quite often is rendered as a young man in Carolingian and Ottonian art, but likewise of a depiction of an evangelist. There is also an historiated border. The item is considered to be an artist's pattern sheet.

This is a page from a book of hours illuminated on vellum by the Master of Gysbrecht van Brederode in the Netherlands, circa 1450/1475. The text includes a Calendar of Utrecht, Hours of the Virgin, Prayers and Suffrages, Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany, Hours of the Eternal Wisdom, In Praise of Mary, Long Hours of the Cross, and the Office of the Dead. The illumination consists of four full-page miniatures illustrating the Annunciation, the Last Judgement, the Ascension, and the Burial of Christ. A fifth illumination of Pentecost may have been present at one time.

This is a page from a first edition of the "Nuremberg Chronicle," written by the Nuremberg town physician and bibliophile Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). Nuremberg lay assessor Sebald Schreyer and the patrician Sebastian Kammermeister commissioned the book. The work was printed in 1493 by Anton Koberger, and includes 1809 woodcuts from 645 blocks, making it the most richly illustrated incunable. It features biblical cuts, views of cities, and a large map of Germany, the first in a printed book.

For Further Study: A 228 page catalog accompanies this exhibit and is available through the Burns Library. The publication features a bibliography which guides the reader to works of related interest.

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