Bamberg Apocalypse

Bamberg Apocalypse – Faksimile Verlag – Msc. Bibl. 140 – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany)

Monastery of Reichenau (Germany) β€” Around 1000–1020

Possibly the greatest masterpiece from Reichenau Monastery, illuminated in gold and found today on the UNESCO World Heritage list: the only preserved apocalypse from the Ottonian period, created either for Otto III or Henry II.

  1. The only surviving illuminated Ottonian Apocalypse manuscript

  2. The most famous and precious work of Reichenau Abbey

  3. Added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme Register list in 2003

Bamberg Apocalypse

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (3)
Description
Bamberg Apocalypse

A unique marvel of manuscript book art emerged from the scriptorium of the Reichenau Monastery between 1000 and 1020. The Bamberg Apocalypse, which has belonged to the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme since 2003, is the most famous and precious work of the Reichenau illuminators. It contains the only pictorial cycle of the Apocalypse that was produced by Ottonian illumination. The splendid, mostly full-page pictures on golden backgrounds possess and indescribable expressive power. The incomparable miniatures cast a spell on every beholder.

Bamberg Apocalypse

Among the numerous significant books and documents to be found in the Bamberg State Library, the Bamberg Apocalypse is a unique marvel of medieval book art. This illuminated manuscript counts among the most famous works from the scriptorium of the Reichenau Monastery and is the only work of Ottonian illumination that contains a pictorial cycle of the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse, also known as the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. The biblical text is a coherent allegorical composition full of significant symbols, which has shaped and fascinated the Christian community for centuries. This important text is illustrated in the Bamberg Apocalypse through a total of 57 splendid, large-format miniatures on a gold background. Initials richly adorned in gold and silver further ennoble the work.

A Mysterious Masterwork

To this day, uncertainty about the exact time of origin reigns over the historical research of the Bamberg Apocalypse. Paleographic findings as well as iconographic and style-critical assessments date the work to the period between 1000 and 1020. More difficult yet is the determination of who commissioned the splendid codex. A miniature in the manuscript shows a representative portrait of a sovereign, in which the commissioner is assuredly depicted. However, it has been a matter of controversial debate whether the sovereign figure is Kaiser Otto III or Kaiser Henry II. Presumably, the manuscript was commissioned at the behest of Otto, and remained incomplete after the ruler’s unexpected death at the age of 21. Otto’s successor, Henry II, probably discovered the precious codex in the Reichenau scriptorium and had it completed. Old literary traditions tell of a binding that no longer exists. This documented the donation of the codex by Kaiser Henry II and his wife Kunigunde to the Bamberg Collegiate Church of St. Stephen.

Fascinating Illumination

The Bamberg Apocalypse is the greatest and most famous work from the scriptorium of the Reichenau Monastery. The monastery was the seat of the foremost scriptorium artistically in the entire Holy Roman Empire. The exciting miniatures of the Apocalypse represent the only cycle for this book from the Bible that was produced in all of Ottonian illumination. Accompanying scenes in high-quality colors and precious gold backgrounds allow the book pages to shine in a unique luster. The intense pictures display a characteristic manner of presentation, in which the people and faces were illustrated with expressive facial expressions and gestures. Even centuries after their production, the expressive illustrations cast a spell on each of their beholders. Alongside the splendid, mostly full-page miniatures, ca. 103 decorative initials adorn the codex. The gold or silver letters find themselves against backgrounds of purple, blue, or green and are outlined by gilded arabesques, which open up in clover like formations or arrowheads. These special embellishments are considered to be the trademarks of the Reichenau book artists.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Bamberger Apokalypse
L'Apocalisse di Bamberg
Size / Format
212 pages / 29.5 Γ— 20.4 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
Around 1000–1020
Style
Language
Illustrations
57 miniatures and 103 initials, some of them full-page
Content
Book of Revelation and a Lectionary
Patron
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor (980–1002); Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor (972–1024)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
St. Stephen's church, Bamberg

Available facsimile editions:
Bamberg Apocalypse – Faksimile Verlag – Msc. Bibl. 140 – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany)
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 2001
Limited Edition: 980 copies

Bamberg Apocalypse – Salerno Editrice – Msc. Bibl. 140 – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany)
Salerno Editrice – Rome, 2001
Limited Edition: 245 copies (co-edition with Faksimile Verlag Luzern)

Bamberg Apocalypse – Insel Verlag – Msc. Bibl. 140 – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany)
Insel Verlag – Frankfurt, 1961
Detail Picture

Bamberg Apocalypse

Christ on a White Horse

After the fall of Babylon, a rider on a white horse representing Christ is sent forth to lead the Heavenly Host against the Beast and his armies, who are utterly defeated. β€œNow out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:15-16)"

Bamberg Apocalypse – Faksimile Verlag – Msc. Bibl. 140 – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany)
Single Page

Bamberg Apocalypse

The Last Judgment

Here we see The Last Judgment, a beloved scene in Christian art. It is perfectly suited to the monumental style of Ottonian illumination with sublime figures set against a burnished gold background that seems timeless, spaceless, and eternal.

Christ is enthroned with a large cross, flanked by the Evangelists’ symbols, trumpeting angels, and the Twelve Apostles. His eyes look out over the beholder’s right shoulder, but all other eyes are on him, save for the two angels in white below, who look at the judged as they read their proclamations. The damned are in the bottom right corner where the Hellmouth and the naked, shackled denizens of Hell await them. The green-skinned dead arise, gesturing as though stretching after a long sleep, and look around in amazement.

Bamberg Apocalypse – Faksimile Verlag – Msc. Bibl. 140 – Staatsbibliothek Bamberg (Bamberg, Germany)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Bamberger Apokalypse

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 2001

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 2001
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: The facsimile is bound in a precious red silk binding modeled after another manuscript of Henry II and especially rewoven for this edition in a traditional technique. Both the fine art facsimile edition and the commentary volume come in a protective acrylic glass box.
Commentary: 1 volume by Bernhard Schemmel, Gude Suckale-Redlefsen, Renate BaumgΓ€rtel-Fleischmann, Avinoam Shalem, Yves Christe, Martina Pippal, Bernd SchneidmΓΌller, Peter Wind, Peter WΓΌnsche and Peter Klein
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)

#2 L'Apocalisse di Bamberg

Salerno Editrice – Rome, 2001

Publisher: Salerno Editrice – Rome, 2001
Limited Edition: 245 copies (co-edition with Faksimile Verlag Luzern)
Binding: Red leather with blind embossing
Commentary: 1 volume (248 pages) by Bernhard Schemmel, Gude Suckale-Redlefsen, Renate BaumgΓ€rtel-Fleischmann, Avinoam Shalem, Yves Christe, Martina Pippal, Bernd SchneidmΓΌller, Peter Wind, Peter WΓΌnsche and Peter Klein
Language: Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)

#3 AusgewΓ€hlte Miniaturen der Bamberger Apokalypse

Insel Verlag – Frankfurt, 1961

Publisher: Insel Verlag – Frankfurt, 1961
Binding: Collection of 12 individual facsimile leaves from the Bamberger Apocalypse
Commentary: 1 volume by Ludwig Oehms
Language: German
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. Reproduction of 12 single leaves of the original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding. The collection comprises fol. 4v, 9r, 10v, 24v, 29v, 31v, 45r, 46r, 57r, 61v, 63v, 68v.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)
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