ArtworksClose1/9MarienlebenGermany, Upper Rhine, c. 1450This extraordinary manuscript version of the 'Life of the Virgin' includes 25 pen-and-ink drawings by two hands. The skilful illustrators likely came from the Upper Rhine region and worked in in close proximity to the renowned Diebold Lauber workshop.2of 315th-century didactic literature at its best.Overview
This work has been sold.
The extraordinary successful narrative about the life of the Virgin was written by the Carthusian monk Philipp in the monastery Seitz at the beginning of the 14th century. Bruder Philipp wrote his Marienleben in rhymes. However, a prose redaction from around 1400 was later incorporated in history bibles to tell the events of the New Testament (Neue Ee).
In the present manuscript, the Marienleben precedes a 15th-century devotional text, Christus und die sieben Laden (Christ and the seven arks) that exemplifies how to gain the treasures of the seven beatitudes. The anonymous author employed a novelistic frame for this edifying treatise that represents 15th-century Alsatian tradition of didactic literature at its best. The text survived in 32 manuscripts and 9 printed editions. The last part of the manuscript contains the legends of St Paul of Thebes, St Abraham and his niece St Mary of Egypt.
Two different hands can be distinguished working on the illustration of the manuscript. The first one was responsible for the life of the Virgin, the other one provided the pictures for the legends. Both artists worked in a closely related style and accomplished a remarkable expressive quality. The most obvious differences between the artists are the slightly bigger heads of the figures in the illustrations for the legends and the hues of colouring: In the cycle of the life of the Virgin the first artist employs blue, green and pink in a lighter shade, while the ochre is darker than in the illustrations of the second artist. The latter, on the other hand, painted green grounds and employed dark blue streaks as a border for the upper part of the sky, which gives these pictures a very different atmosphere compared to the lighter coloured pictures of the other artist.
Both style and concept of the present manuscript resemble the techniques employed at the Diebold Lauber workshop, active in Hagenau in the second and third quarter of the 15th century. However, none of the many painters related to the Lauber workshop had the skilful expressiveness of the two professionals who illustrated the manuscript at hand. Therefore, our illuminators must have been working independently from Lauber, but still in close proximity, maybe somewhere in the regions of Basel, Konstanz or Freiburg.
This work is now in the collection of the Kunstmuseum Basel’s Kupferstichkabinett.