Hildesheim Golden Calendar

Hildesheim Golden Calendar

Benedictine Abbey, Hildesheim (Germany) — ca. 1250

A masterpiece of the "jagged style": golden miniatures and beautiful calendar medallions from the Benedictine monastery of St. Michael in Hildesheim

  1. This splendid early-Gothic manuscript originated in St. Michael’s Benedictine Monastery, Hildesheim

  2. The Zackenstil manuscript is counted among the masterpieces of 13th century Saxon illumination

  3. The name of the magnificent calendar manuscript comes from the extensive use of gold leaf therein

Hildesheim Golden Calendar

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Hildesheim Golden Calendar

The Hildesheim Golden Calendar is counted among the masterpieces of 13th century Saxon illumination. The magnificent early-Gothic manuscript made for the Quedlinburg Abbey originated in the St. Michael’s Benedictine Monastery in Hildesheim. A complete calendar as well as five miniatures concerning the life of Jesus Christ are to be found on nine pages. The artistic layout is in the so-called Zackenstil with Byzantine echoes and was completed using luxurious gold.

Hildesheim Golden Calendar

The Hildesheim Golden Calendar is counted among the masterpieces of 13th century Saxon illumination. The magnificent early-Gothic manuscript made for the Quedlinburg Abbey originated in the St. Michael’s Benedictine Monastery in Hildesheim. A complete calendar as well as five miniatures concerning the life of Jesus Christ are to be found on nine pages. The artistic layout is in the so-called Zackenstil and was completed using luxurious gold.

A Splendid Example of Hildesheim Illumination

Against a splendid gold background that produces an almost magical effect, scenes play out with figures dressed in colorful clothes. A handsome, elegant angel proclaims the birth of the Lord to Mary, the cross with Christ dominates an impressive crucifixion scene, and a colorful crowd of people watches the Ascension of Christ in astonishment. These magnificent miniatures were made ca. 1240/1250 in Hildesheim’s Benedictine Monastery of St. Michael. The scriptorium there is famous for its excellent works, above all the Stammheim Missal (residing in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles), that may have served as an example for the Hildesheim Golden Calendar. The calendar manuscript was intended for the Quedlinburg Abbey. In the Middle Ages, St. Michael’s Benedictine Monastery in Hildesheim was one of the most important abbeys in Europe, which was also known as a production site for great art. The historical significance of the place where the Hildesheim Golden Calendar was manufactured in Lower Saxony is also evidenced through the recognition of St. Michael’s Monastery together with the Hildesheim Cathedral as a UNSESCO World Heritage Site.

A Golden Book with Byzantine Echoes

The total of 16 pages in the large-format manuscript also contains, next to seven pages with a complete calendar, two illustrated pages with a total of 5 miniatures from the life of Jesus Christ. These are in the so-called Zackenstil, which arose at the beginning of the 13th century. The paintings of the Hildesheim Golden Calendar distinguish themselves through marked echoes from Byzantine art, which converged with Romanesque and French early-Gothic influences. Thus originates, for example, the extremely interesting garments of the figures depicted with their manifold arrangement of folds. Also worth a look is the powerful ornamental embellishment of the pictorial scenes with adjusted columns and the conspicuous framework. This ornamental adornment is particularly expressed by the calendar pages. There one finds two months next to each other on one page, respectively. They are integrated in a splendid arcade framing, which is crowned with architectural elements, small turrets in various forms. Artistically varying patterns and colors give the frames a particular flavor. The calendar pages were rounded off through the attached zodiac signs in a partially gilded medallion. The great artistry of the painter, who worked with wonderful colors and a great deal of gold, is also manifest here.

A Well-Preserved Gothic Masterpiece

The calendar’s text is configured in red and black script, which underlines the diverse character of the entire manuscript. The silk curtains affixed between the pages for the protection of the splendid pictorial pages are a distinct feature of the Hildesheim Golden Calendar. Today the magnificent manuscript is housed in the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel. Without a doubt, it is considered to be, along with its artistic pictorial pages, among the most beautiful German manuscripts from the 13th century and is called the Hildesheim Golden Calendar for a reason.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Das Goldene Hildesheimer Kalendarium
Il Calendario d'Oro di Hildesheim
Goldenes Hildesheimer Kalendarium
Size / Format
16 pages / 30.9 × 22.5 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
ca. 1250
Style
Language
Script
Gothic
Illustrations
2 full-page miniatures and complete calender with elaborately designed zodiac signs
Content
Lavishly adorned calendar with plentiful gold leaf
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Hildesheim Golden Calendar – Cod. Guelf. 13 Aug. 2° – Herzog August Bibliothek (Wolfenbüttel, Germany)
Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2003
Limited Edition: 980 copies

Il Calendario d'Oro di Hildesheim
Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Detail Picture

Hildesheim Golden Calendar

Scorpio and Sagittarius

These two fine zodiac symbols are enclosed in medallion miniatures and interspersed with the important calendars dates for November and December, which are finely written in red and black ink. Scorpio is presented simply before a starry blue sky in a ring of gold, but Sagittarius is considerably more elaborate with detailed musculature and a shimmering gold background. Rather than being depicted as a centaur, Sagittarius is a drollery with the body of a man and the head of a wolf.

Das Goldene Hildesheimer Kalendarium
Single Page

Hildesheim Golden Calendar

Vita Christi

This outstanding full-page miniature is broken up into three important scenes from the life of Christ, all presented before a sparkling gold background. Going clockwise from the top left, they are the Annunciation, Adoration of the Magi, and Crucifixion. The upper scenes are divided by a Roman column, while the lower scene is separated by a blue bar with arabesques.

The garments are a fine example of the German Zackenstil or “jagged style”, especially Mary’s cloak in the Adoration scene, which is being used as a blanket. The Pharisees are depicted in rich garments in a more contemporary style with tights, while Christ’s followers wear classical togas. Byzantine artistic influences are evident in the standardized faces and emotive hand gestures.

Das Goldene Hildesheimer Kalendarium
Facsimile Editions

#1 Das Goldene Hildesheimer Kalendarium

Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2003

Publisher: Müller & Schindler – Simbach am Inn, 2003
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Lightbrown embossed leather
Commentary: 1 volume (76 pages) by Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck, Helmar Härtel, and Werner Hohl
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 Il Calendario d'Oro di Hildesheim

Publisher: Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte – Modena
Limited Edition: 980 copies
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.
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