A Dazzling, Immaculate Modern Vellum Manuscript in a Striking Binding, An Innovative Combination of the Medieval and Art Deco

JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.

([Flensburg: ca. 1925]). 325 x 240 mm. (12 7/8 x 9 1/2"). 4 p.l. (first two blank), 4 leaves, 144 pp., [4] leaves (last blank). Single column, 31 lines in a fine calligraphic hand.

FLAMBOYANT DEEP RED MOROCCO, ELABORATELY INLAID AND GILT, BY W. A. PETERSEN (stamp-signed on rear turn-in), covers framed by inlaid white morocco strip tooled with gilt triangles enclosing sides in a bead-and-lozenge pattern of gilt-outlined mandorlas containing a red cross on a blue background alternating with an inlaid white lozenge, upper cover with brass and enamel cornerpieces featuring the symbols of the four Evangelists, each of these set with a colored glass gem, central panel divided into four compartments, each containing a small star tool, central brass and enamel medallion with a six-pointed star emblazoned with a sun and a red enamel "Y," two straps with brass and enamel clasps marked with Alpha and Omega, lower cover with brass cornerpieces, raised bands, spine with gilt-ruled compartments, turn-ins tooled with plain and dotted gilt rules, and gilt stars, deep pink moiré silk doublures shot with gold thread, all edges gilt. In a box with a velvet-lined maroon buckram base and green marbled paper lid. With many initials of various sizes painted blue, red, green, purple, maroon, or gilt, three three-line initials in gold on a colored ground with the shape of a cross, one two-line initial and 13 four- to six-line initials in gold on a multi-colored ground in a geometric design, SEVEN HISTORIATED INITIALS (each measuring seven to 11 lines in length), FIVE MINIATURES MEASURING A THIRD TO THREE-QUARTERS OF THE PAGE, each featuring a scene from the life of the Virgin or the life of Christ, SIX FULL-PAGE ILLUMINATIONS incorporating text of different sizes and fonts, many colors and patterns, five of which contain a large central gilt circle, the first of these completely filled with gold, the others with a religious symbol in pen on bare vellum, every page with a unique border composed of a thin frame with different geometric designs in gold and color, some pages with an additional column of floral and foliate designs running down the left side of the text within the border, plus additional flourishes elsewhere. Text in multiple sizes and fonts, occasional words or phrases penned in color or gold. Boards somewhat bowed (as often with bindings on vellum works), occasional naturally occurring variations in the grain of the vellum, a few instances of faint thumb smudging in corners, but A BEAUTIFUL MANUSCRIPT IN ESPECIALLY FINE CONDITION, the vellum smooth and fresh, the illuminations shimmering, and the binding unworn.

Replete with gold illumination and bright colors evoking the appearance of Medieval manuscripts and stained glass, this is an exquisitely produced work relating the life and words of Christ, divided into five thematic parts: Light, Word, Spirit, Death, and Resurrection. Each part opens with a sumptuous full-page illumination reminiscent of the "carpet page" painting found in early Insular manuscripts; in the present work, our artist fills the frame with a dazzling mixture of text and decorative patterns around a lustrous gilt medallion calling to mind the sun, a resplendent halo, or the Host. Although much of the decoration, both on these full-page illuminations and elsewhere in this work, remind one of Medieval manuscripts and are often composed of geometric designs and colors suggestive of stained glass, the overall style here is decidedly modern. The palette is fresh and bold while the emphasis on strong lines and patterns shows the influence of the reigning Art Deco movement, with echoes of the Art Nouveau movement that preceded it. Traditional biblical narratives in the form of historiated initials and miniatures are also presented here in refreshing ways: the image of the Sermon on the Mount, for example, places the viewer directly among the masses; we experience the event as a member of the audience would, looking over the shoulders of the people in front of us to see Christ orating from a small hill, silhouetted against a bright pink sky. Another memorable image--and the largest figural composition in this manuscript--is the Crucifixion. Though he has used a fairly standard composition, the artist plays with our perception of space by setting the scene on a dark blue ground that envelopes the figures in a shadowy void; the only light source seems to come from the gold lettering immediately above the cross, radiating off the face of Christ and, to a lesser degree, off the grief-stricken faces of John the Evangelist and the Virgin. All are pictured without haloes, thus emphasizing the humanity of Christ over his divinity. As a whole, this manuscript is extremely impressive in terms of artistry and technical execution, and the prolific decoration and calligraphic variety hold the viewer's interest page after page. The equally impressive binding--modelled after the look of a Medieval Gospel book complete with enamel-like bosses and jewels--is fitting for a work that pays homage to the past while celebrating contemporary art and style. The life and work of calligrapher and illuminator Johann Holtz (1875-1944) is poorly documented, but he seems to have been active in Flensberg, Germany; he also worked as a graphic artist. Binder W. A. Petersen has proven equally illusive, but we know that his workshop was also located in Flensburg. Given the town's close proximity to Denmark, we might speculate whether Petersen was somehow related to the Copenhagen-based binder Immanuel Petersen, who took over from master binder D. L. Clément in 1877. Despite the lack of biographical information on our artist and binder, the work here needs no provenance information to be pleasing in every way, from the gleaming binding to the beautifully preserved and magnificently illuminated contents.
(ST16974)

Add to Cart Price: $19,500.00

PJP Catalog: NY22BF.006

JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT. ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM - MODERN, JOHANN HOLTZ, Scribe and Illuminator.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.
JESUS CHRISTUS GESTERN UND HEUTE UND DERSELBE AUCH IN EWIGKEIT.

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