Hitda Codex

Hitda Codex

Probably Cologne (Germany) — Around 1000

Made in Cologne, commissioned by Abbess Hidta: 58 large-format scenes of Biblical history in the Ottonian style

  1. One of the gems of medieval Ottonian illumination probably originated ca. 1000 in Cologne

  2. The splendid codex was commissioned by Abbess Hitda, who was immortalized in the dedication picture

  3. It may have been a gift from Archbishop Gero of Cologne (ca. 900–976) and features 58 large format biblical scenes

Hitda Codex

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Hitda Codex

The so-called Hitda Codex is considered to be one of the gems of medieval Ottonian illumination. Probably originating from Cologne ca. 1000, the manuscript is directly tied to the noble cloister of St. Walburga in Meschede. The splendid codex was commissioned by Abbess Hitda, who was immortalized in the dedication picture. Additionally, the name of Archbishop Gero of Cologne has also been found in research as an additional possible patron of the manuscript. The manuscript’s 58 miniatures of biblical scenes with their exceptional style make the codex something special!

Hitda Codex

The so-called Hitda Codex is considered to be one of the gems of medieval Ottonian illumination. Probably originating from Cologne ca. 1000, the manuscript is directly tied to the noble cloister of St. Walburga in Meschede. The splendid codex was commissioned by Abbess Hitda, who was immortalized in the dedication picture. Additionally, the name of Archbishop Gero of Cologne has also been found in research as an additional possible patron of the manuscript. The manuscript’s 58 miniatures of biblical scenes with their exceptional style make the codex something special!

The Noble Abbess or the Archbishop?

The Hitda Codex is an exciting work of illumination from Cologne ca. 1000. Today, the codex is named after one of its possible commissioners: the Abbess Hitda von Meschede. She was likely a person of high rank, possibly from the family of the counts of Werl. As abbess, she presided over the St. Walburga Cloister in Meschede, a noble nunnery during the Carolingian period. The precious manuscript could have been a valuable present to the cloister, because a directory of their numerous donations was recorded in the handbook – albeit later. Among the items listed there are a splendid gold cross and a valuable statue of the Virgin Mary.

Hitda, the Mother of Gero

Another famous name, which can probably be brought into connection with the manuscript as a patron, is Gero. This Gero (ca. 900–976) was the Archbishop of Cologne and is famous as the donor of the famous Giro Codex. The Hitda Codex could have been one of this costly commissions, in order to fulfill the legacy of his mother who died in Jerusalem ca. 969/70.

Stylistically Excellent Painting

The evangeliary is illustrated with large-format biblical scenes. These scene are presented on 58 image pages with generous use of gold leaf. Broad, colorful frames surround the central depictions with large figures in the center. Nevertheless, it is the expressive design vocabulary and remarkable coloring that makes these miniatures special. A depiction showing the namesake Hitda can be seen in the dedication picture, as she dedicates the evangeliary to St. Walburga. Similarly, the famous miniature of Calming the Storm has developed into an icon due to its unbelievable expressiveness.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Hitda-Evangeliar
Darmstädter Hitda-Codex
Evangeliar der Hitda von Meschede
Size / Format
219 pages / 29.0 × 21.8 cm
Origin
Germany
Date
Around 1000
Style
Language
Illustrations
58 decorated and miniature pages
Content
Contains an evangeliary, a selection of passages from the Gospels. The Hitda Codex is the only surviving series of illuminations of the Cologne school of this period exhibiting the Life of Christ.

Available facsimile editions:
Hitda Codex – Cod 1640 – Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany)
Limited Edition: 450 copies
Detail Picture

Hitda Codex

Incipit Page: Gospel of Luke

Here we find an initial within an initial, specifically a small “M” within a large “Q” to introduce the opening lines of the Gospel of Luke from the Vulgate Bible: Quoniam quidem. The tail of the “Q” artfully wraps itself around the frame. Large initials constructed of golden interlace were a popular feature of late-Ottonian and early-Romanesque manuscripts in Germany, the addition of a purple painted background speaks to the preciousness of this particular commission.

Hidta-Codex
Single Page

Hitda Codex

Annunciation

The finest materials were used for this masterful Ottonian miniature of the Annunciation: expensive pigments of blue and red, purple-dyed vellum, gold leaf, and silver ink was even used to label the Virgin Mary and the archangel Gabriel. Classically-styled churches are the only objects seen in the background of rich purple.

The soon-to-be Mother of God is depicted in profile with hands folded in prayer while the angel Gabriel is depicted in three-quarter view with a hand raised in a sign of benediction. The angel is depicted with a foot and wings hanging out of the frame as though it just flew down from Heaven. It appears as though a curtain has been pulled back, removing the barrier between the realms of the mortal and the eternal.

Hidta-Codex
Facsimile Editions

#1 Hidta-Codex

Hitda Codex – Cod 1640 – Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany)
Hitda Codex – Cod 1640 – Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Limited Edition: 450 copies
Binding: Linen binding with blind embossing and leather spine
Commentary: Commentary by Peter Bloch bound with facsimile
Language: German
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. 58 decorated pages on plates. 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
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