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Imitation und Invention

Beobachtungen zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Illustrationen der Budapester Concordantiae Caritatis-Handschrift

Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae


The subject of this study is an illustrated manuscript made in Vienna in 1413, which is keept in the Central Library of the Piarist Order in Budapest in 1979. The codex contains Concordantiae Caritatis, a typological work by Ulricus, a 14th century Cistercian monk from Lilienfeld. The illustrations are mentioned in recent art history as especially important in respect of the origins and history of Viennese painting in the first third of the 15th century. The manuscript is studied here as a whole with the aim of distinguishing different artists' hands for the first time. The paper deals with the problems of attribution on the basis of parallels of style, and the question of models. The author proposes the participation of seven hands or groups of collaborators. One of them (referred to here as group 1) is placed in the circle of the Master of the Sankt Lambrecht panel, other pages (referred to here as group 2) are related (e.g.) to the so called Mettener Biblia Pauperum, made in Bohemian-like style.

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Classical Protagonists – Medieval Postures

Body Language in Early Medieval Illustrations of Late Antique Texts

Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae
Anna Boreczky

The primary aim of my paper is to reveal the possible role of illustrations in the (re)interpretation of a text as seen in the example of an Ottonian image cycle illustrating a Late Antique adventure story. The work in question is the so-called Apollonius pictus (Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 4), a manuscript fragment consisting of three and a half large parchment leaves that contain the oldest known illustration cycle of the History of Apollonius, king of Tyre (Historia Apollonii Regis Tyri). The images (thirty-eight red line drawings) focus on the protagonists; with the exception of some ships, a few buildings and curtains, there is almost nothing that alludes to the mise-en-scène. In spite of their relative simplicity, the images effectively articulate the meaning of the story by means of the protagonists’ body language. Through the study of their postures and gestures in relation to the text and in the context of other early medieval visual narratives, I arrive at the conclusion that the images offer an alternative reading of the story. This reading gives the leading role to one of the female protagonists, Tarsia, and emphasizes special personality traits and life events that make her similar to saints. Analyzing the communicative function of the illustrations, I shed light on the Ottonian reception and use of classical narrative traditions from a specific perspective.

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My study is concerned with three re-discovered manuscript copies of the Thuróczy Chronicle: Cod. Pal. Germ. 156 of the Universitätsbiblithek of Heidelberg, Cod. 279 of the Burgerbibliothek of Bern, and fMS Ger 43 of Harvard University/Houghton Library. I focus on the Heidelberg manuscript, whose cycle of images of medieval Hungarian rulers has been unknown in Hungarian reference literature on art history. The Thuróczy Chronicle was first printed in 1488 in two editions: on March 20 in Brünn, and on June 3 in Augsburg. The Brünn copy is decorated with 42, the Augsburg one with 66 woodcuts, most of which portray Hungarian kings on their throne. These two cycles of illustrations are among the most important sources for the medieval iconography of Hungarian kings. The Heidelberg manuscript contains the German translation of the Thuróczy Chronicle and an epitaph of King Mathias (on the bottom of the last page). The writing belongs to one hand, apart from the epitaph. The manuscript is ornamented richly in a representative manner. In the first few pages, gold initials are ornamented with green and violet pen-and-ink drawings, later there are simpler blue and red initials. The illustration cycle consists of 41 colored pen-and-ink drawings occasionally enriched with silver and gold, showing the conquest of Hungary by the Hungarians, Attila, the seven “captains” (Árpád, Szabolcs, Gyula, Kund, Lehel, Bulcsú, Örs), and 31 kings of Hungary from Saint Stephen to King Mathias – plus János Hunyadi. The figures are the work of an experienced, though not very talented master. The background of the pictures is filled in by floral ornamental patterns reminiscent of cover paint miniatures. Apart from the one showing the Conquest, each picture is surrounded by flowers and acanthus leaves in late-gothic style, possibly (but not necessarily) the work of another master of high quality. There is a fly on the margin of page f.19v, and a fly and a dog on f.22r. The manuscript must have been made after 1488 as it is based on the Brünn edition of the Thuróczy Chronicle. If the Mathias epitaph was written at the time the manuscript was made and not afterwards, the volume must have been made after Mathias's death in 1490. The Heidelberg Chronicle belonged to the “Bibliotheca Palatina” of Heidelberg, the huge collection of books that was sacked and taken to the Vatican as a part of the spoils of war in 1623. In the Harvard manuscript, another German translation of the Thuróczy Chronicle is found, based on the printed edition from Augsburg. The manuscript had been designed to be illustrated at first, but later on (during the process of the making of the codex) this plan has been given up. In the 16th century, the manuscript belonged to the Styrian Count Ferdinand Hoffmann Freiherr von Grünpüchel. The Bern codex is the only extant manuscript of the Thuróczy Chronicle in Latin language. It had belonged to the well-known French humanist and diplomat Jacques Bongars before it found its way into the collection of the Burgerbibliothek. Apart from their intrinsic values, the three codices that have been re-discovered are especially interesting as they shed new light on the extent of interest shown by contemporaries in the history of the Hungarians and the representation of their kings.

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