Speculum Humanae Salvationis

Speculum Humanae Salvationis

Vienna (Austria) — 1432

Adorned with 264 masterful miniatures of the German Gothic: a guide to a godly life with images from the Old and New Testaments and the mythology of antiquity

  1. The only *Mirror of Human Salvation* to survive in Spain arose in Austria ca. 1432

  2. 264 fine, gold-accented paintings illustrate the tales from the Bible and ancient mythology

  3. The figures are depicted in late medieval costume in this guide for Christians in Europe to a good, godly life

Speculum Humanae Salvationis

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Speculum Humanae Salvationis

The only Mirror of Human Salvation to survive in Spain: the impressive Speculum Humanae Salvationis of the Spanish National Library. This outstanding specimen of the beloved and influential Mirror of Human Salvation arose ca. 1432 in either Vienna or Innsbruck and is lavishly decorated with 264 miniatures. These fine, gold-accented paintings illustrate the tales of the Old and New Testaments together with the themes of ancient mythology.

Speculum Humanae Salvationis

The famous Speculum Humanae Salvationis, also known as the Mirror of Human Salvation or Liber Laicorum, is an influential work of medieval faith. The text, composed at the beginning of the 14th century, was the guide to a good, godly for Christians in Europe for over 300 years. The tales of the New and Old Testaments were united for faithful Christians. This text was widespread across Europe in countless forms. Having said this, only a single illustrated codex of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis has survived on the Iberian Peninsula.

North Alpine Miniature Painting in Spain

This unique manuscript of the Biblioteca Nacional de España in Madrid is stored under the shelf mark ms. Vit 25–7. The manuscript did not, however, originate in Spain, but rather in modern Austria, namely in Vienna or Innsbruck in the year 1432. The 68 parchment pages of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis are lavishly illustrated with more than 250 gorgeously colored miniatures. These spread out in a row on the upper margin of each page as a Frieze above the Latin text in two columns. An outstanding example of German miniature painting at the time!

The Fusion of Two Worlds

The miniatures present the biblical stories completely in the raiment of the Middle Ages. Knights and warriors in chainmail and suits of armor, typical 15th century garments, an unambiguously medieval-style crown, and numerous architectural elements with Gothic forms characterize this unusual impression. Thus, the beholder encounters saints in the shape of noble ladies and biblical events in front of medieval backdrops. Elegant, graceful figures in flowing robes people the fascinatingly arranged scenes. Numerous details highlighted in gold crown the high-quality picture cycle and lend the pages of the manuscript a glimmering charm.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Way to Human Salvation
Mirror of Human Salvation
Mirror of the Salvation of Mankind
Liber Laicorum
Speculum humanae salvationis: primera parte del ms. Vit. 25-7 de la Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid
Heilsspiegel
Size / Format
68 pages / 36.0 × 26.0 cm
Origin
Austria
Date
1432
Style
Language
Illustrations
264 miniatures

Available facsimile editions:
Speculum Humanae Salvationis – ms. B.N.Vit 25-7 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Edilan – Madrid, 1997
Limited Edition: 1000 copies

Speculum Humanae Salvationis – ms. B.N.Vit 25-7 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
CM Editores – Salamanca, 2020
Limited Edition: 375 copies
Detail Picture

Speculum Humanae Salvationis

Abraham and Isaac

In Genesis 22, God tests Abraham’s faith by ordering him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, but an angel appears at the last moment when the wood for the burnt offering is laid and Abraham is about to kill his son. The angel tells Abraham to spare his son and instead sacrifice a ram that is caught in a nearby thicket by its horns. This scene is typically juxtaposed with the Crucifixion or a scene from the Stations of the Cross in Christian typology with Isaac prefiguring Christ – the Lamb of God.

Speculum Humanae Salvationis
Single Page

Speculum Humanae Salvationis

Baptism of Christ and the Molten Sea

On the left there is a typical scene showing John the Baptist blessing Jesus has he stands in the River Jordan while an angel serves as a witness and stands ready with dry robes. A small lamb serves as a visual reminder of Christ’s sacrifice. It is juxtaposed on the right by a fountain with the heads of four oxen – an inaccurate depiction of the so-called Molten Sea from the Temple of Solomon.

The Molten Sea is described in 1 King and 2 Chronicles as a brass or bronze basin five cubits in height, ten cubits in diameter and thirty cubits in circumference that was used by the temple priests for ritual washing. It was placed on the backs twelve oxen facing outward, three in each cardinal direction, which represented the Hebrew zodiac.

Speculum Humanae Salvationis
Facsimile Editions

#1 Speculum Humanae Salvationis

Edilan – Madrid, 1997

Publisher: Edilan – Madrid, 1997
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Binding: Full leather
Commentary: 1 volume (307 pages) by Teresa Pérez Higuera, Albert Guillem Hauf i Valls and Agustín Santiago Luque
Language: Spanish
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
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#2 Speculum Humanae Salvationis (Espejo de la Salvación de la Humanidad)

CM Editores – Salamanca, 2020
Speculum Humanae Salvationis – ms. B.N.Vit 25-7 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis – ms. B.N.Vit 25-7 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: CM Editores – Salamanca, 2020
Limited Edition: 375 copies
Binding: Leather binding with gold tooling
Commentary: 1 volume
Languages: English, Spanish
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. Reproduction of the folios 3v-37v of the 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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