The oldest surviving copy of the *Mirror of Human Salvation*: a rare insight into the architecture, clothing, and everyday life of the 14th century

Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster

Austria — 1325-1330

Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster

Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster

Austria — 1325-1330

  1. The *Mirror of Human Salvation* was the most popular medieval book of religious edification

  2. The oldest manuscript of this type features text in Latin and German adorned with 192 miniatures

  3. Architecture, clothing, and other everyday object offer an inside view of the 14th century

Speculum Humanae Salvationis aus Kremsmünster

Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster

Jesse Tree

This literal family tree tracing the genealogy of Jesus Christ is typically found before the Gospel of Matthew. As usual, the father of King David, Jesse, is depicted in repose at the root of the tree that grows from his side. The branches are filled with various biblical figures from that illustrious line while the trunk consists of a Madonna with Child, which in turn leads into a medallion with the Lamb of God. Expensive red paint was used to color the background.

Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster

Alternative Titles:
  • Heilsspiegel
  • Spiegel des menschlichen Heils
  • Way to Human Salvation
  • Mirror of Human Salvation
  • Codex Kremsmünster
  • Speculum Humanae Salvationis
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Imageof
Regular price without login (like new)450 €
Login for a Better Price!
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The most popular book of religious edification and one of the most widespread works of the Late Middle Ages: the Speculum Humanae Salvationis or “Mirror of Human Salvation” is the so-called codex Cremifanensis 243, housed today in the Benedictine Abbey of Kremsmünster in Austria. Featuring 192 miniatures and a text in both Latin and German, it is the oldest illuminated manuscript of its type and one of the most lavishly decorated. The primary focus of the work is establishing an extensive synthesis of the Christian history of salvation. This is done by showing the close relation between the New and the Old Testaments. On the other hand, everyday objects are represented: architecture and vestments provide an interesting insight into the culture of the early 14th century, making the manuscript a true treasure trove for the cultural history of this period.

Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster

One of the most beautiful and ancient manuscripts of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis or “Mirror of Human Salvation” is the so-called codex Cremifanensis 243, housed today in the Benedictine Abbey of Kremsmünster in Austria. Its 192 miniatures, all feather drawings outlined by a sure hand and with a great feel for the use of space, are sparsely colored in red and blue and make the reader familiar with the very foundations of Christian belief. This codex is not only the oldest illustrated manuscript of the Speculum Humanae Salvationis but also its first bilingual edition, containing the original Latin text and a somewhat abridged German version. The Speculum Humanae Salvationis is a mirror of human redemption by Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, a picture Bible containing systematically compiled accounts from both the Old and the New Testaments, thus forming an extensive synthesis of the Christian history of salvation.

The Pictures – Impressive Reflections of Their Period

The true value of the Kremsmünster manuscript resides in its numerous miniatures which, in outspoken simplicity, greatly impress the beholder. Blue and red backgrounds alternate while the figures emerge before them in the natural color of the parchment. Their faces are generally lit with friendliness, charm, and a sympathetic mood. Evil faces, in contrast, are smeared in black. Everyday objects are represented: architecture and vestments provide an interesting insight into the culture of the early 14th century, making the manuscript a true treasure trove for the cultural history of this period.

A Late Medieval Book for Religious Edification

The Speculum shows the close relation between the New and the Old Testaments, in a number of archetypal series, each of which treats four episodes in both picture and text. A so-called anti-type opens the series with an event of salvation taken from the canon of the New Testament, thus determining the subject being treated. This is followed by three relevant preview scenes from the Old Testament. The interrelation of these four events allows the reader to apprehend the inner context of the salvation topic treated. The presentation offers a synthetic view of God’s plan of salvation, as declared both in the Old and in the New Union. Though the Salvation deed of God according to the New Testament is always preferred as the greater achievement. The great number of biblical scenes shown, and not least its extensive illustration cycle, have made the Speculum Humanae Salvationisthe most popular book of religious edification and one of the most widespread works of the Late Middle Ages.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Heilsspiegel
Spiegel des menschlichen Heils
Way to Human Salvation
Mirror of Human Salvation
Codex Kremsmünster
Speculum Humanae Salvationis
Size / Format
124 pages / 33.5 x 25.5 cm
Origin
Austria
Date
1325-1330
Style
Gothic
Illustrations
192 miniatures in the approx. size 80 x 80 mm, alternately on blue or red ground
Speculum Humanae Salvationis aus Kremsmünster

Sacramentary of Metz

Adoration of the Magi / Presentation in the Temple

This is a fine example of the 192 sparsely colored but nonetheless highly refined miniatures in this manuscript, which alternate between red and blue backgrounds. The scene exhibits a great sense of space and the figures’ faces are generally characterized by sympathetic, friendly, and charming expressions. Their garments are portrayed with a very realistic fall of folds.

One the left we see the Three Magi: one kneels to the enthroned Madonna and Child presenting a gift while the other two talk amongst themselves as one of them points out the star that guided them to Bethlehem. In the scene to the right, the baby Jesus is shown in the moment that he is being handed over to Simeon at the altar as he looks back at his mother.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster“

Speculum Humanae Salvationis aus Kremsmünster
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Speculum Humanae Salvationis of Kremsmünster – Codex Cremifanensis 243 – Stift Kremsmünster (Kremsmünster, Austria)
Imageof

Speculum Humanae Salvationis aus Kremsmünster

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1972
Binding
Leather, according to the original.
Commentary
1 volume (46 pages) by W. Neumüller
Language: German

The expert commentary of the facsimile edition provides the key to understanding the manuscript. Willibrord Neumüller O.S.B. describes not only the contents but also the pictures of the book and gives an introduction to the typology of Specula.
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Regular price without login (like new)450 €
Login for a Better Price!
  1. Matching Works
  2. Matching Background Articles

Matching Works

Albrecht Dürer - Small Xilographic Passion - Nuremberg, 1511

Albrecht Dürer - Small Xilographic Passion - Nuremberg, 1511

Furnished with 36 woodcuts: one of Albrecht Dürer's most successful works in one of the most popular Passion texts of all time

Experience More
Papyrus Ani

Papyrus Ani

The gorgeous art of ancient Egypt: one of only four surviving specimens of the *Book of the Dead*

Experience More

Matching Background Articles

Publisher