Model Book of Rein

Model Book of Rein Facsimile Edition

Monastery of Rein (Austria) — 1st half of the 13th century

Influencing generations of artists: the oldest surviving sketchbook from the Middle Ages with everyday scenes, depictions of animals, and magnificent initials

  1. This is the oldest model book to survive the Middle Ages and influenced generations of book artists

  2. The codex is named after the Cistercian Rein Abbey near Graz in Styria, where it was made

  3. It shows scenes of everyday life, animal depictions, a series of initial alphabets, and various patterns

Model Book of Rein

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Model Book of Rein

So-called "model books" served generations of medieval book artists as catalog-like models for their fascinating works, especially as illuminators, scribes, and their workshops increased in number throughout the Middle Ages. These books were filled with everything an artist would need to fill and were especially helpful for showing plants and animals that they might not otherwise have come into contact with. In addition, pattern books were used in training and for consultation with clients. The Model Book of Rein is the oldest and most beautiful of these model books to survive the Middle Ages and dates to the 13th century and as such, may very well have influenced generations of illuminators and scribes. It is named after its place of origin, the Cistercian monastery Rein near Graz. On 13 leaves, an unknown artist compiled scenes from daily life in concise genre paintings in the 13th century, supplemented by depictions of animals, several initial alphabets, and patterns for floor tiles and stained-glass windows. Crafts, hunting and fishing as well as various occupations in a monastery not only bring medieval everyday life to life today, but also bear important witness to the self-perception of an entire stylistic epoch.

Model Book of Rein

Generations of medieval artists patterned their great works on cartoons and sketches compiled in so-called "model books". The Model Book of Rein, named after the Cistercian abbey at Rein near Graz in Styria where it was made, is probably the finest of all.

The First Medieval Model Book

Our model book is the work of an anonymous artist who carefully illustrated scenes of everyday life, created animal depictions, a series of initial alphabets, as well as patterns for floor, tiles, and glass windows on 13 pages. The codex was produced in the 13th century and the copy in Rein thus constitutes the oldest surviving Model Book of this size in medieval art. The Model Book of Rein commences with 12 scenes taken from medieval daily life. The precisely executed genre pictures represent typical farm duties, different arts and crafts, as well as hunting and fishing scenes and the activities of monastic life.

Models for both Miniaturists and Scribes

These pictures are followed by three different alphabets, ranging from a simple majuscule alphabet to a lavishly illustrated initial alphabet including animals skillfully hidden in the expressive interlace. The books continues with 48 real and fabulous creatures, plants, and stones. The birds deserve particular mention due to their complicated postures and movements and it is assumed that they could have been destined for use in initials. The same applies to the sketches showing multi-lobed, scroll-like leaves enclosing ensembles of flowers and fruit. It ends with sumptuous ornaments designed for use in floor tiles and glass windows with interlace modelled in the style of Greek mosaics. All this makes the Model Book of Reina delightful reflection of medieval art, thus improving our understanding of medieval culture.


Alternative Titles
Reiner Musterbuch
Size / Format
26 pages / 24.1 × 15.8 cm
1st half of the 13th century
All pages with Romanesque pendrawings

Available facsimile editions:
Model Book of Rein – Cod. Vindob. 507 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1979

Model Book of Rein – Cod. Vindob. 507 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1979
Detail Picture

Model Book of Rein

Hunting Scenes

A favorite pastime of the nobility, hunting was also a popular subject for artistic depiction in illuminated manuscripts. The scene on the left shows three men killing a wolf, which was grizzly but necessary in order to protect people and livestock from the ravenous packs that filled the forests. Two types of armor are shown – chainmail and lamilar – as well as two types of helmet and various weapons. A stampede on the right exhibits as many types of animals as possible in a small miniature.

Das Reiner Musterbuch (Leather Edition)
Single Page

Model Book of Rein

Four Professions

Depictions of everyday life ranging from work to play are among the most fascinating and useful images that the modern beholder can find in medieval manuscripts. Set within classical Roman arches and columns with Corinthian capitals, four miniatures depict different professions with a figure above each scene holding two tools or objects representative of the respective profession.

In the upper right corner, we see cobblers making boots and using tools to stretch and shape the leather. Moving clockwise, we next see a huntsman on horseback blowing a horn as his hounds bring down a great stag and fishermen dragging a net into their boat. Finally, carpenters use various tools to construct a staircase and a latticework over a doorway.

Das Reiner Musterbuch (Leather Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Das Reiner Musterbuch (Leather Edition)

Model Book of Rein – Cod. Vindob. 507 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria) Facsimile Edition
Model Book of Rein – Cod. Vindob. 507 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria) Facsimile Edition Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Binding: Leather binding. All folios are cut according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (54 pages) by Franz Unterkircher
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.
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#2 Das Reiner Musterbuch (Half-leather edition)

Price Category: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
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