Epistolary of Frederick the Wise

Epistolary of Frederick the Wise Facsimile Edition

Nuremberg (Germany) — 1507–1509

For a sovereign and patron of the arts during the German Renaissance: a large-format prayer book for the Elector of Saxony with a magnificent miniature based on a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer

  1. Frederick III (1463-1525) was a generous patron of the arts during the German Renaissance

  2. The text consists of epistle readings for 18 feast days beginning at Christmas

  3. It is adorned by 3 full-page miniatures, 17 historiated initials, and rich tendril frames

Epistolary of Frederick the Wise

Ms. EL. F. 2 Thuringer Universitats- und Landesbibliothek (Jena, Germany)
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (3)
Description
Epistolary of Frederick the Wise

This gorgeous, well-preserved manuscript has been stored in the Jena University Library since 1547 and is an exemplary specimen of the German Renaissance. Frederick III, Prince-Elector of Saxony, commissioned the manuscript ca. 1507 from the Nuremberg workshop of Jakob Elsner. In addition to the richly adorned text pages at the beginning of each pericope, 3 full-page miniatures and 17 historiated initials embellish the manuscript. The most famous of these images is a full-page miniature of the Entombment and Lamentation of Christ in a mountainous landscape based on a woodcut by the great Albrecht Dürer. Its text consists of epistle readings for 18 feast days between Christmas and the celebration of a church consecration.

Epistolary of Frederick the Wise

The Epistolary of Frederick the Wise is a magnificent private liturgical book famous for a full-page miniature of the Entombment and Lamentation of Christ in a mountainous landscape based on a woodcut by the great Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Frederick III (1463-1525), Prince-Elector of Saxony, was a generous patron of the arts during the German Renaissance who also owned one of the most extensive collections of relics and commissioned the Nuremberg workshop of Jakob Elsner (d. 1517) with the project ca. 1507. This magnificent manuscript, created on the eve of the Reformation, has been stored in the Jena University Library since 1547 and as a result is in an excellent state of preservation.

Gorgeous Readings for Christian Festivals

3 full-page miniatures, 17 historiated initials, and rich tendril frames filled with people and animals for the text pages presenting the beginning of each pericope adorn the splendid manuscript created at the behest of Frederick. Historiated initials with depictions of Saint Paul, prophets, or kings from the Bible are also found at the beginning of each pericope, which are epistle readings for 18 feast days between Christmas and the celebration of a church consecration. The coat of arms and various heraldic symbols associated with the Saxon ruling house are depicted in full-page miniatures along with a miniature of angels holding the instruments of Christ’s suffering, the so-called Arma Christi.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
The Festival Epistolary of Frederick III the Wise
Epistolario Festivo de Federico III de Sajonia
Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen
Fest-Epistolar Kurfürst Friedrich des Weisen
Size / Format
76 pages / 35.0 × 25.0 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
1507–1509
Style
Language
Script
Gothic Textura
Illustrations
3 full-page miniatures, 17 historiated initials, richly decorated with gold
Content
Epistle readings for 18 feast days, from Christmas to the celebration of a church consecration
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Luxury Edition) Facsimile Edition
Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 1983
Limited Edition: 800 copies

Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 1983
Limited Edition: 800 copies
Detail Picture

Epistolary of Frederick the Wise

Marginalia

This manuscript distinguishes itself through the quality and detail of the artistic décor, and this extends to the magnificent marginalia that frames the texts. Appearing in the lower right corner of the page, a bearded wildman with ruddy cheeks and covered in green fur climbs up the tendril frame with a duck in his left hand. He stands on a red vine while pulling himself up by grasping a blue and gold acanthus leaf. Meanwhile, a small songbird looks over its shoulder and watches from below.

Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Standard Edition)
Single Page

Epistolary of Frederick the Wise

The Lamentation and Entombment of Christ

This famous full-page miniature is a fine specimen of one of the most popular subjects in Christian art and is based on a woodcut by Albrecht Dürer. The Three Marys and other members of Christ’s inner circle are mourning over his dead body in the foreground, with some of the standing figures richly dressed in contemporary fashion.

The background is a mountainous landscape roughly divided into two with Golgotha depicted on the right and Christ’s tomb on the left. Equally interesting is the frame, which is filled with angels holding inter alia the Arma Christ, the Instruments of the Passion. The frame additionally contains medallions depicting the four “Fathers of the Church” as well as four coats of arms associated with the Duke of Saxony.

Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Standard Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Standard Edition)

Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 2005
Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Standard Edition) Facsimile Edition
Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Standard Edition) Facsimile Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 2005
Binding: Half leather binding
Commentary: 1 volume by Irmgard Kratzsch and Rainer Behrends
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.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Luxury Edition)

Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 1983

Publisher: Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 1983
Limited Edition: 800 copies
Binding: Velvet covered wooden cover with colored miniature under glass, 4 metal coat of arms medallions, 4 raised metal medallions, decorated corner fittings and 2 decorated clasps
Commentary: 1 volume by Rainer Behrends and Irmgard Kratzsch
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. Co-edition of the publishers Edition Leipzig and Editorial Casariego (100 copies destined for the Spanish market and 800 copies for the German market).
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#3 Das Fest-Epistolar Friedrichs des Weisen (Linen Edition)

Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 1983

Publisher: Edition Leipzig – Leipzig, 1983
Limited Edition: 800 copies
Binding: Linen binding
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.
Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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