Berthold Sacramentary

Berthold Sacramentary

Monastery of Weingarten (Germany) — Between 1200 and 1232

Created in Weingarten Monastery, the center of 13th century German book illumination: golden miniatures and uniquely fanciful initials in the transition from Romanesque to Gothic

  1. Originated in Weingarten Abbey, one of the most important center of illumination in early 13th century Germany

  2. Abbot Berthold commissioned this incomparable late Romanesque work from the so-called Berthold Master

  3. All its miniatures and the great majority of its fantastical initials are set against gold and silver grounds

Berthold Sacramentary

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Berthold Sacramentary

The Berthold Master is just one of countless medieval artists who, in spite of their great skill, have remained more or less anonymous to us today. Nonetheless, this unknown artist produced some wonderful illuminated manuscripts, the famous Berthold Sacramentary is the origin of his name of convenience. Produced upon the request of Abbot Berthold, the 13th century manuscript features a wealth of miniatures, historiated initials large and small, calendar plates, and more. Aside from its wonderful often metallic color palette, the decoration of the manuscript is further embellished with the generous use of gold and silver. The book was written out by three different scribes in calligraphic perfection befitting the quality of the pictorial decoration, thus making it a holistic work of art which is unrivalled in the history of book illumination.

Berthold Sacramentary

There are very few books that stand out from the relatively large medieval production of prime quality manuscripts, one of them being the Berthold Sacramentary. It was produced upon the request of Abbot Berthold, probably immediately after the big fire of 1215 in which the library of the monastery was severely damaged, and surpasses all comparable books of the late Romanesque period in both formal and material aspects. 21 full-page miniatures, 7 historical paintings, 6 full-length, 12 half-length and 52 smaller decorated initials, 18 figural initials and 12 calendar plates form the decorative furnishings of the book, which cover a total of 165 parchment folios. This huge quantity of pictures is paralleled with truly extraordinary quality. They are the work of an anonymous miniaturist, referred to as the Berthold Master, who was obviously far ahead of his time: a vigorous and dramatic representation of the narrative, a new plasticity achieved by modeling color application, and an inexhaustible decorative proficiency are all important features of the magnificent miniatures.

Gold and Silver Abound

All miniatures and the great majority of initials are set against gold and silver grounds thus enhancing the luminescence of their colors. However, this generous application of metallic colors is not the only highlight of the elaborate decoration in the Berthold Sacramentary, as it is even further enriched by a total of 32 miniatures and initials on burnished golden grounds. Six pictures are set against golden backgrounds which were additionally ornamented with clearly elevated relief in an expensive technical process. The Berthold master reserved this ultimate level of decorative luxury for the illustration of the principal feast days in the Church year. The book was written out by three different scribes in calligraphic perfection befitting the quality of the pictorial decoration, thus making it a holistic work of art which is unrivalled in the history of book illumination.

The Facsimile Edition

All 330 pages of the manuscript are reproduced in the original format of 29 x 20 cm with luminous golden decoration. The binding is made of genuine leather and embellished with silver ornamental bands. The facsimile edition is limited to 280 copies and available in a protective case. The 288-page commentary volumes explains all miniatures in great detail while also dealing with their historic and art historic context.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Berthold-Sakramentar
Size / Format
330 pages / 29.3 × 20.4 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
Between 1200 and 1232
Style
Language
Script
Gothic minuscule
Illustrations
128 ornamental pages with 21 full-page, 5 half-page, and 2 small miniatures; 6 full-page illuminated texts; 19 historiated initials; numerous decorated initials; many with gold- and silver-leaf, some highly burnished.
Content
Sacramentary
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Weingarten Abbey
St. Peter's Abbey, Salzburg
Frederick Wilhelm of Orange Nassau
General Niboyet
Monsieur Delahante
H. Philipps
Thomas William Coke, Earl of Leicester
Pierpont Morgan Jr.

Available facsimile editions:
Berthold Sacramentary – Ms M.710 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1995
Limited Edition: 280 copies
Detail Picture

Berthold Sacramentary

Adoration of the Magi

Instead of a stable, the artists made use of rounded arches to create a palatial scene in the central register of this miniature with a glimmering gold background. Mary is enthroned like a queen receiving the homage of her vassals to their newborn liege lord. The Three Kings approach with their gifts, the first two presenting theirs while the third waits patiently. The baby Jesus extends his right hand toward them giving the sign of benediction.

Berthold-Sakramentar
Single Page

Berthold Sacramentary

The Death of the Virgin

The illumination of this incomparable work of late Romanesque art is distinguished by the refinement of its miniatures, which are richly adorned with gold and silver. The Berthold Master’s depiction of this popular subject is distinguished by its masterful execution and tremendous emotionality.

The expressions of the Twelve Apostles, who have miraculously assembled from their missionary work across the world, range from quiet grief to the anguished look on the face of the figure who has collapsed next to her bed. Christ’s expression, however, is calm, he looks almost as relieved as his mother. The baby he holds is the spirit of his mother, now at peace and reunited with her son – their roles are now reversed as he holds her in his arms.

Berthold-Sakramentar
Facsimile Editions

#1 Berthold-Sakramentar

Berthold Sacramentary – Ms M.710 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Berthold Sacramentary – Ms M.710 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Limited Edition: 280 copies
Binding: Brown leather binding with ornamental silver edges embellished with patterns Housed in a protective case
Commentary: 1 volume (288 pages) by Felix Heinzer and Hans Ulrich Rudolf
Language: German

Ed. by Felix Heinzer, Stuttgart, and Hans Ulrich Rudolf, Weingarten, with support from numerous experts.

The commentary volumes explains on 288 pages all miniatures in great detail while also dealing with their historic and art historic context.
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. All folios are cut according to the original.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
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