Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, especially those with illuminated miniatures, are unique testimonies to human history. They form a fundamental part of the heritage shaping our world since late Antiquity. Collecting manuscripts is a fascinating, gratifying experience and an elegant way to connect with life, thought and the magnificent art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Here we present and offer books that preserve the finest painting and literature of the period within their pages.
The hand-painted illustrations of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts are cherished collector’s items. Since the 19th century, art lovers have bought illuminated leaves and miniatures and mounted them into albums or frames. The concentration on medieval imagery awakened an interest in ‘the monuments of the art of illumination’. Valued for their beauty, our miniatures were physically and conceptually transformed in the past to encourage today’s direct aesthetic contemplation.
The first printed books, from c. 1450-1500, are called incunabula or incunables. These remarkable first examples of the art of printing from movable type are the pride of every bibliophile and every antiquarian bookseller. In addition to their significance in revolutionizing the written word and its dissemination, incunables often also contain woodcut illustration, sometimes coloured by hand. In the 16th century, the techniques of printing, typography and woodcutting were brought to perfection.
In October 2013, we were proud to present our finest books and miniatures in the stunning environment of the historical Abbey Library of Sankt Gallen. This two-day exhibition was a special highlight among several events this year. The most recent was our Christmas exhibition. As every year, we displayed a number of magnificent manuscripts and incunables in our rooms in Basel.