Bening, Glockendon, Beham: miniatures by the greatest artists of the Northern Renaissance brought together in a magnificent volume

Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg

15th / 16th century

Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg

Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg

— 15th / 16th century

  1. Contrary to a typical book of hours, the focus of this manuscript is on the visual décor with minimal text

  2. This collection commissioned by Duke Johann Albert I of Mecklenburg (1525-76) makes it an exceptional specimen of book illumination

  3. Miniatures were contributed by Simon Bening, Nikolaus and Albrecht Glockendon, and Sebald Beham

Gebetbuch Herzogs Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg

Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg

St. George and the Dragon

The popular patron saint of warriors, especially venerated by Crusaders, is depicted here about to strike at the dragon with which he is so famously associated in this pastel-colored Renaissance miniature. A broken lance can be seen protruding from the bleeding neck of the dragon. Aside from St. George’s impressive golden armor, particular attention has been paid to his horse, which has a marvelous caparison trimmed with cloth of gold and is armored with a criniere and spiked chanfron.

Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg

Alternative Titles:
  • Gebetbuch Herzogs Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

An exceptional piece significant to art history: the so-called Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg. Contrary to a typical book of hours, the focus of the manuscript is on the visual décor with minimal text accompanying the miniatures. These miniatures are counted among the best of what 15th century illumination produced. Individual sheets from Simon Bening, Nikolaus and Albrecht Glockendon, and Sebald Beham were united into a marvelous compendium. Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg was responsible for it, he inherited the pages from the collection of his famous uncle, Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg, and then had them bound together into a volume. The further history of the manuscript is also an adventurous tale. It was in this way that an unusual manuscript and a true treasure of 16th century illumination came to be!

Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg

An exceptional piece significant to art history: the so-called Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg. Contrary to a typical book of hours, the focus of the manuscript is on the visual décor with minimal text accompanying the miniatures. These miniatures are counted among the best of what 15th century illumination produced. Individual sheets from Simon Bening, Nikolaus and Albrecht Glockendon, and Sebald Beham were united into a marvelous compendium. Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg was responsible for it, he inherited the pages from the collection of his famous uncle, Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg, and then had them bound together into a volume. The further history of the manuscript is also an adventurous tale. It was in this way that an unusual manuscript and a true treasure of 16th century illumination came to be!

Centuries Full of Adventure

Today, the Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg is stored in the Kassel University Library as a precious treasure. Its history reads like an adventure novel. The experience of the prayer book during the 20th century’s chaos of war was unbelievable, which lead it from Kassel to the USA (in which the famous Monuments Men of the U.S. Army played an important role) and back again, with theft, litigation, and finally a happy ending. Nonetheless, the pages of the manuscript had already survived plenty. They took their modern form in the year 1569 when Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – the manuscript’s namesake – had the pages united into a single volume. John Albert, Duke of Mecklenburg (1525-1576) was a modern Renaissance prince. He enthusiastically patronized both the arts and scholarship and owned a large library, confirming his thirst for knowledge.

The Famous Cardinal

The pages came into his possession from his uncle’s collection, the famous Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg (1490-1545). He was also known as a patron and promoter of the important artists of the North-Alpine Renaissance. Folios 1 and 2 of the manuscript have two miniatures depicting the escutcheon of the Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg, indicating its owner. The miniature by Nikolaus Glockendon presents the cardinal’s coat of arms surrounded by bejeweled columns with a cardinal’s hat and the insignia of his power. An earlier owner – or perhaps patron? – is indicated by another coat of arms in the pages: Melchior Pfinzing, Emperor Maximilian’s secretary, from whom the works of art passed into the possession of Albert of Brandenburg.

The Most Important Miniaturists of their Time

The miniatures of the manuscript invariably originated from artists who were recognized as the greatest of their time: Simon Bening, Nikolaus and Albrecht Glockendon, and Sebald Beham. Flemish artists and masters from Nuremberg painted the total of 44 beautiful miniatures of outstanding quality during the first half of the 16th century. What is particularly odd is that nine of the miniatures in the prayer book were each sewn into a passe-partout. Individual sheets correlating to various biblical themes were colorfully assembled from works by Simon Benning, Nikolaus the Elder, Sebald Beham, and Albrecht Glockendon. These fragments from various manuscripts contain inter alia depictions of several apostles and saints, e.g. St. Christopher and the Christ child or St. George in battle with the dragon. Additionally, one finds scenes from the life of Christ with a strong connection to the Virgin Mary, including an Annunciation scene in a church interior and the Visitation. Additional miniatures show the Slaughter of the Innocents, Bathsheba, or the battle between David and Goliath.

A Biblical Picture Book

The miniatures take up the majority of the manuscript and are only supplemented by sparse text. As a result, this abundance makes the outstanding quality of the paintings apparent. Gold and silver leaf additionally adorn some of the miniature pages. The Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg is not only enchanting because of its adventurous history, which united the most important figures of the 16th century, but also and especially from an art-historical perspective, because the manuscript represents a unique testimonial to this great period of illumination!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Gebetbuch Herzogs Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg
Size / Format
88 pages / 23.0 x 18.0 cm
Date
15th / 16th century
Language
Illustrations
44 miniatures illuminated with gold and silver leaf of which 9 are sewed in
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Gebetbuch Herzogs Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg

Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg

Massacre of the Innocents

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.” (Matt. 2:16).

This violent episode regained popularity among Renaissance artists, who used it to compare the atrocities of contemporary religious wars with the brutality of antiquity. Depicted with the garb and architecture of the 15th century, this miniature is remarkable for the posturing of the figures – both living and dead. King Herod is picture standing above the central arch with his retainers and looking down at the slaughter.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg“

Gebetbuch Herzogs Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg – 4° Ms. math 50 – Universitätsbibliothek (Kassel, Germany)
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Gebetbuch Herzogs Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2006
Limited Edition
998
Binding
True-to-original leather cowhide binding with gold embossing. The book is closed by means of four elegant bands
Commentary
1 volume by Gabriele Bartz, Eberhard König and Konrad Wiedemann
Languages: German
Regular price without login (like new)1,490 €
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