The Medieval Review 11.05.14

Frühmorgen-Voss, Hella and Norbert H. Ott. Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters Band 4/2, Lieferung 5. Kommission für deutsche Literatur des Mittelaters der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 4/2. Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 2010. Pp. 120. . . 49.50 EUR. ISBN 978-3-7696-0943-1.

Reviewed by:

Alison L. Beringer
University of British Columbia

Volume 4/2, 5 of the Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters (Catalogue of illustrated German- language manuscripts of the Middle Ages) contains four thematic groups ("Stoffgruppen"): Flore und Blanscheflur (descriptions by Christine Putzo); Heinrich Steinhöwel, Von den berühmten Frauen (Kristina Domanski); Friederich von Schwaben (Lieselotte E. Saurma-Jeltsch); and Konrad von Stoffeln, Gauriel von Muntabel (Norbert H. Ott). The fascicle also includes a bibliography, list of plates and figures, and five indices of (1) manuscripts; (2) prints; (3) names (scribes, illustrators, patrons and owners); (4) authors, anonymous works, and themes; (5) iconography and book decoration. This information covers all of volume 4/2.

Many will be familiar with this catalogue, but for those who have not yet had occasion to use this extensive and fertile research tool, I will provide a brief introduction. Under the auspices of the Kommission für Deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, this project, conceived by Hugo Kuhn and begun in 1963 by Hella Frühmorgen-Voss, has been led since the latter's early death by Norbert H. Ott with countless leading scholars in the field contributing descriptions of the various thematic groups. Thematic groups, of which there are currently 147, form the core of the project (a list can be consulted at, which aims to describe all German language and bilingual German/Latin illustrated manuscripts of the Middle Ages (roughly twelfth to sixteenth century), including those in which illustrations were planned but not executed. The groups are thematic in that they take as their subject matter narrative material rather than any specific author's rendition of that material. So, for example, the issue reviewed here includes both the early thirteenth century Flore und Blanscheflur romance attributed to Konrad Fleck and the German prose romance Florio und Bianceffora, a slightly adapted translation of Boccaccio's Il Filocolo, the earliest witness of which is a Sammelhandschrift of 1473/4 (514). Despite the official title, the catalogue includes illustrated prints of material that is transmitted in illustrated manuscripts, and so should be useful to an even broader audience.

For each thematic group, an expert provides a brief (no more than three pages in this issue) introduction and overview, which include historical information about the narratives belonging to this group and essential information about the "picture-text" relationships in the following manuscripts and prints. This introduction is followed by a detailed catalogue, which includes provenance and codicological information about each manuscript (arranged alphabetically by library), with sections on the pictorial aspects: the style and execution of pictures and pictorial elements (e.g., foliate borders, decorated initials), a description of the subject matter of the pictures (including interpretive comments), and information about the colors used and their distribution. Each entry ends with a brief bibliographic list and, for an increasing number of manuscripts, the web addresses of digitization projects and digitally available secondary sources. The entries covering prints contain brief codicological information, list all the pages with woodcuts and provide information on their size and placement. In addition, the authors (in this volume Putzo and Domanski) comment to different extents on the content and structure of the woodcuts, and on the various instances of woodcut recycling that occur: from earlier prints of the same text, from other texts, and within the print under discussion.

Prints are treated here for only the first two thematic groups, Flore and Blanscheflur (7 prints) and Heinrich Steinhöwel's Von den berühmten Frauen (8 prints). In the former, the seven prints contain Florio und Bianceffora the text based on Boccaccio's Il Filocolo, and they range in date from 1499 to 1587. Given that there is only one black and white reproduction of the earliest print (199) and no web addresses of digitization projects, the immediate value for the catalogue user lies in the gathering of the prints in one place, as well as in Putzo's general descriptions of the woodcuts (e.g., 520) and in the information about the re-use of woodcuts from other texts (e.g., in the Frankfurt am Main: Weigand Han, [c. 1559] print). Those studying these prints in more detail will furthermore be grateful for the annotations Putzo provides to clarify such matters as previous (mis-)identifications of prints (523, 524). In addition to the prints of Florio und Bianceffora, Putzo's entry includes description of two manuscripts of the other text group belonging to this thematic group, Konrad Fleck's Flore und Blanscheflur.

Like Putzo, Domanski in the section devoted to Steinhöwel deals more with prints than with manuscripts (only 2 manuscripts were illustrated or intended to be so), but given that Steinhöwel's translation of Boccaccio's text appeared in print first, this is not surprising. Of particular interest to scholars working with media shifts is the manuscript now in New York (The New York Public Library, Spencer Collection, Ms. 105), the pictorial program of which is based very closely on the woodcuts of the first German print by the Ulm printer Zainer in 1473 (531, 533-534), an example of print-to-manuscript influence. As Domanski observes, these woodcuts were themselves recycled from the printer's Latin edition of the text (for those interested in pursuing these woodcuts and their use in Steinhöwel's text, see Domanski's 2007 book, Lesarten des Ruhms). Saurma-Jeltsch, in her discussion of the Friedrich von Schwaben group, has only one illustrated manuscript (Heidelberg, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. Pal. germ. 345) of the text to work with (she includes brief description of the six purely textual ones as well, thus giving the reader a better understanding of transmission), a limitation that she turns to her advantage by incorporating comparative material from manuscripts of other texts produced by the same Henfflin Workshop (e.g., Cod. Pal. germ. 142, Cod. Pal. germ. 67). The first part of Cod. Pal. germ. 345 belongs to a different thematic group (Lohengrin, not yet covered by the published portions of the catalogue), and Saurma-Jeltsch pays attention to this broader context, observing, for example, that the more extensive courtly depictions of the Lohengrin text are absent in the manuscript's Friedrich von Schwaben. The illustrations of both works have been attributed to Artist A of the Henfflin-Workshop (see the online description of the codex, http://www.ub.uni-, but Saurma-Jeltsch suggests that in all probability this designation refers to more than one person, given the differences in execution of the pictures (542). Despite the availability on line of full color reproductions, the Katalog includes two black and white photos of the manuscript--an added bonus if you are using the catalogue when you're not at the computer.

Ott's entry on Konrad von Stoffeln's Gauriel von Muntabel concludes the catalogue. This late Arthurian romance, of which there is a 2007 bilingual Middle High German and English edition by Siegfried Christoph, is transmitted in two manuscripts rather diverse in their content and three fragments. Of these two manuscripts, Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, Cod. Donaueschingen 16 contains one illustration, a full-page frontispiece of the hero (black and white figure included, 208). The second manuscript, Innsbruck, Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Hs. F.B. 32001, does not illustrate this portion of the codex, though there are illustrations in the manuscript's other texts, as well as blank spaces in the codex. Given this paucity of illustrations to discuss, Ott's entry is necessarily brief, yet true to the original concept of this Katalog precisely by referring to manuscripts where pictorial programs were (perhaps) planned but not executed.

In its mixture of well-known and not-so-well-known thematic groups and its treatment of manuscripts and prints this fascicle of the catalogue should be of interest to a wide range of scholars. It is consistently well-written and easy-to-follow, making it accessible also to those with limited German.