A unicum of art history: 56 silverpoint drawings in the International Gothic style on small, hinged wooden panels

Vienna Model Book

Czech Republic; Austria — 1410-1420

Vienna Model Book

Vienna Model Book

Czech Republic; Austria — 1410-1420

  1. A unique work: 56 silverpoint drawings mounted on small, foldable wooden panels in a leather case

  2. An unknown master of the International Gothic style from Bohemia or Austria created them ca. 1400

  3. The images include dozens of head studies, including a skull, animals, and mythical creatures

Wiener Musterbuch

Vienna Model Book

Portrait of a Wealthy Man

This portrait was used as a template for the depiction of a nobleman or a wealthy burgher. His wealth is indicated by his luxurious fur hat and coat, as well as the stylish way in which he has trimmed his beard, something that a poor man would have no time for. He is depicted with a straight nose, high cheek bones, and piercing eyes. The fact that the miniature is uncolored allows the potential client to observe the countless masterful pen strokes with which the artists created it.

Vienna Model Book

Alternative Titles:
  • Wiener Musterbuch
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Imageof
Edition available
Ask for an offer!
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

A suffering Christ on the cross, a curly camel, a courtly lady with a distinguished headpiece, and a smiling lion: all combined in the so-called Vienna Model Book, an unusual, nay unique work of art. In 56 small-format, fine silverpoint drawings, always mounted in fours on a small, foldable wooden panel and coffered in a valuable leather sheath, the extraordinary skill of an unknown artist is displayed in various genres. The model book counts among the highpoints of the chamber of marvels in Vienna’s Museum of Art History.

Vienna Model Book

A suffering Christ on the cross, a curly camel, a courtly lady with a distinguished headpiece, and a smiling lion: all combined in the so-called Vienna Model Book, an unusual, nay unique work of art. In 56 small-format, fine silverpoint drawings, always mounted in fours on a small, foldable wooden panel and coffered in a valuable leather sheath, the extraordinary skill of an unknown artist is displayed in various genres. The so-called model book counts among the highpoints of the chamber of marvels in Vienna’s Museum of Art History.

An Enigmatic Masterwork

A truly enigmatic object is to be wondered at in the chamber of marvels, reopened in 2012, in Vienna’s Museum of Art History. Divided into 14 maple platelets, there are 56 drawings on paper in a small format of 9.5 x 9 cm to be discovered. An unknown Bohemian master of the international style caused the drawings to be put on paper around the year 1400. The wondrous little pictures are drawn with the fine line of a silverpoint, modelled across skillful brushstrokes in white and read and sometimes elevated with bright colors.

56 of the Finest Drawings

The artist drew various motifs as templates for larger works – hence the name ‘model book.’ 39 pictures show various heads, as types of heads for some, but wonderfully, individually completed for others. Among them are found figures from the Christian context, an illustration of the head of Christ crowned with thorns on the cross, a depiction of a suffering mourner, perhaps Mary from a Lamentation, or an angel with the cross on its brow, as well as figures for secular-profane pictorial themes, a young gentlewoman with a crowned head or a grouchy old man with a wrinkled face. The additional contents of the platelets include 16 depictions of animals and mythical creatures, a grinning lion with unusually big ears, a crawling spider, a fierce wild boar, or a curly camel. Aside from that the artist added a picture of a skull. All of these filigrees and exceptionally artistic drawings are set against a monochromatic green-gray background. So the depicted heads function as models that can be introduced to any context.

A Bohemian Artist Demonstrates his Prowess

In this way, the artist could showcase his prowess and also offer models for his potential commissions. This expectation would also be strengthened by the trappings of the so-called model book. The 14 platelets from maple wood are coffered in a sheath of leather that simultaneously protected it and made it transportable through the employment of an affixed strap. The valuable case was comprised of wonderful leafy vines embossed in brown leather. Artistically, the work can be ascribed to Bohemia or Austria and probably originates from around 1410/1420. The unbelievable artistic production of the significant artists of the Bohemian region were encapsulated within the “Bohemian School” which began in the time of Emperor Charles IV and Wenzel IV. The artists of the Vienna Model Book were nevertheless familiar with all of the contemporary artistic movements of the early 15th century, be it the art of France or Italy.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Wiener Musterbuch
Size / Format
56 drawings in frames / 9.5 x 9.0 cm
Date
1410-1420
Style
Gothic
Illustrations
56 silver pen drawings (portraits and animals)
Artist / School
Wiener Musterbuch

Vienna Model Book

Dragon, Bear, Horse, and Dog

In the event that someone wanted depictions of beasts both real and imaginary, this model book also contained examples of various animals, in additions to humans. Here we have four such animal portraits, two in profile and two in three-quarter view. The dragon in the top left is depicted with a protruding barbed tongue, curled horns, and blank reptilian eyes.

The bear to the left is a contrast: the image is softened by the countless strokes depicting the fur and its face, the eyes in particular, has an almost human quality. The horse is similarly friendly in appearance with flowing mane, kind eyes and, a loosely-hanging tongue. The guard dog with cropped ears looks focused, attentive, and ready for its master’s command.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Vienna Model Book“

Wiener Musterbuch
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Vienna Model Book – KK 5003/5004 – Kunsthistorisches Museum (Wien, Austria)
Imageof

Wiener Musterbuch

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Binding
Drawings are mounted on foldable wooden tablets (a total of 14 small acorn tablets protected in a valuable, dark stamped leather case)
Commentary
1 volume (80 pages) by Maria Heisen and Eberhard König
Language: German
Details
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
  1. Matching Works
  2. Matching Background Articles

Matching Works

Historia Naturalis: De Avibus

Historia Naturalis: De Avibus

With copperplate engravings by Matthäus Merian: the primary work on birds at the turn of the 18th century

Experience More

Matching Background Articles

Publisher