logo
Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
Log In
lots of lots
Lot 0086
in German, illuminated manuscript on parchment [Alsace, c .1445] 12 leaves, single gathering, set out as medical-astronomical prognostications followed or proceeded by calendar for each month, most probably wanting a last leaf with the prognostications for December, else complete, double column of 32 lines in a fine prickly German vernacular bookhand, with capitals touched in red, 2-line initials in alternate red and muted turquoise-blue, rubrics and major feasts in red, each column of prognostications headed by an elaborate crocketed golden arch containing the sun or the moon (as a man's face wearing a cowl peeking out from a golden crescent) above a half-page depiction of an astronomer looking skyward or seated reading (11 in total), each calendar leaf with the occupation of the month within a large gold-edged roundel (approximately 50mm. in diameter), above a similarly sized portrait of the zodiac symbol for the month (often partly illuminated), slightly trimmed at outer edges (with small loss to edge of three illustrations), small spots and cockling in places, erased inscription (perhaps Early Modern ex libris) on last leaf, else very good condition, 205mm. by 105mm., eighteenth- or nineteenth-century binding of white vellum over stiff pasteboards, with single gilt-fillet and small ducal coronet in centre of front board, rebacked, fitted gilt-tooled leather case This is the long-lost Mckell Medical Almanack from the workshop of the celebrated artist Dietbold Lauber, last recorded and seen exactly sixty years ago, and previously available to scholarship only in black-and-white facsimile Provenance: (1) Commissioned c .1445 by a patron in the diocese of Strasbourg (the Calendar leaves having the local saints, Erhard, Gangolf, Udalric and Lendelinus amongst others), from the workshop of the artist Dietbold Lauber in Alsace. (2) Col. David McCandless Mckell (1881-1962) of Cillicothe, Ohio, fellow of the Morgan Library and an American friend of the Bodleian, who collected medieval manuscripts and children's books. This volume was exhibited in the library of the University of Kentucky in March 1958, accompanied by a published study by Rosy Schilling and a separate black-and-white facsimile. The manuscript itself has not been seen since then. Saurma-Jeltsch published her study in 2001 and likewise Mackert in 2012 without seeing it, and both list it as 'untraced'. Text and Illumination: Variants of the text here enjoyed great popularity in Germany in the fifteenth century both as part of larger works, or as a work in itself (as here) similar to the later so-called shepherd's calendars. In some manuscripts it is followed by short treatises on the planets, human temperaments and other medical matters, but as Schilling observed in 1958 the individual layout here suggests that this text always stood alone. It opens with predictions on what will happen in the year depending on which day of the week the first day of January falls on (if Monday the weather will be extreme and there will be little honey and much manslaughter ; if a Thursday the weather will be fine, but there will be little wine ; if a Friday many will have sore eyes ), and includes entries for January advising against bleeding but advising for drinking strong wine with ginger, for February advising bleeding only through the thumb and to eat hot food and drink also warm wine , for March advising to eat roast meat and often bathe, this is healthy and to be bled and cupped often, with further months receiving instructions to consume certain medicinal herbs, eat no meat from the feet of animals, abstain from all smoked meats, not go often to women , as well as offer predictions about thunder, weather changes or meteorites bringing war and death in their wake. It was clearly a prestigious commission for a wealthy patron, and Schilling identified the artist as a member of the workshop of the artist and publisher Diebold Lauber in Hagenau, Alsace. As she notes, the same artist also worked on a Legenda Aurea (now in Berlin, Staatsliche Bibl., Germ. Fol.495), and a Book of Chess (now British Library, Addit. MS.21458). Lauber administered a substantial workshop, which produced over 50 surviving illustrated manuscripts in the German language, dating from between c .1427 and 1470, with a combined total of more than 6000 miniatures. They have been comprehensively surveyed by Saurma-Jeltsch (including the present manuscript, see above). They represent a crucial point in the development of illustrated German literature, and stand at the intersection, not only of art and economic history, but also of religious, linguistic, and literary history. Written in the vernacular and endowed with ambitious programmes of pictorial decoration, the books signal a 'coming of age' of vernacular literature (J.F. Hamburger in Medium Aevum , LXXII, 2003, p. 362). The significant illuminations are: (1) fol.1v, enthroned astronomer with golden crown and ermine cloak, gazing at a golden star above; (2) fol.2r, a three-faced king at table and the water-carrier with a golden ewer; (3) fol.2v, a man warming his hands and feet by a fire over which sausages are smoking, and two pale brown fish; (4) fol.3r, a finely detailed portrait of the astronomer with a turban-like headdress with a two flowing tails, again pointing at a golden star; (5) fol.3v, the astronomer again in the same position wearing a red and blue pointed hat; (6) fol.4r, a man pruning vines and a ram with golden horns straining its neck and poking out its tongue to reach leaves of a bush it stands against; (7) fol.4v, a maiden with flowers and a docile-looking red-brown bull; (8) fol.5r, the astronomer pointing to a star; (9) fol.5v, the astronomer in a blue robe seated and reading a book at a desk, with an angular banderole inscribed Es wert ein Zeichen geschehen ; (10) fol.6r, a nobleman with hawk and horse, and the twins naked with a golden harp; (11) fol.6v, a man mowing grass and a bright red lobster; (12) fol.7r, the astronomer crowned and enthroned, holding a book; (13) fol.7v, the same as a robed figure with tight-fitting hat with a tassel on top; (14) fol.8r, a man harvesting corn and a large yellow lion poking his tongue out at the scene above; (15) fol.8v, a man threshing and the Virgin with gold wings pointing at a tree; (16) fol.9r, the astronomer before a book on a lectern; (17) fol.9v, the same seated with a book under his elbow; (18) fol.10r, a man sowing and a pair of gold scales; (19) fol.10v, pressing grapes and a green and brown scorpion; (20) fol.11r, the astronomer with a flowing headdress; (21), fol.11v, the same clean-shaven, seated and reading; (22) fol.12r, the knocking down of the acorns to feed hogs, and a centaur with bow and arrow looking at a magpie in a tree; (23) fol.12v, killing the hog and a seated ram with golden horns, poking his tongue out. Publications: Rosy Schilling, 'A facsimile of an Astronomical medical calendar in German (Studio of Diebolt Lauber at Hagenau, about 1430-1450): from the Library of Colonel David McC. McKell', University of Kentucky Libraries Bulletin 18, 1958; Rosy Schilling, 'Astronomical medical calendar: German, studio of Diebolt Lauber at Hagenau, 15th century, c. 1430-50', University of Kentucky Libraries Bulletin 18, Occ. Contribution 97, 1958; L.E. Saurma-Jeltsch, Spätformen mittelalterlicher Buchherstellung. Bilderhandschriften aus der Werkstatt Diebold Laubers in Hagenau , Bd. 2, 2001, p. 17; C. Mackert, 'Ein typisches Produkt aus der Spätzeit der Lauber-Werkstatt? Zur Handschrift der 'Leipziger Margarethe'', in Aus der Werkstatt Diebold Laubers, 2012, pp. 299-326; and listed on the online Handschriftencensus : Eine Bestandsaufnahme der handschriftlichen Überlieferung deutschsprachiger Texte des Mittelalters , as no.14903

Buyer's Premium

  • 27% up to £150,000.00
  • 21% above £150,000.00

The Mckell Medical Almanack, - in German, illuminated

Estimate £60,000 - £80,000Jul 08, 2015
placeholder
Mayfair, London, UK
283 Followers