An Abecedarium: Illuminated Alphabets from the Court of Emperor Rudolf II

Overview


Included in the magnificent pages of the Mira calligraphiae monumenta are two alphabets. Executed by an unknown hand, the first consists of Roman capital letters; the other is Gothic lower-case letters. As with the calligraphy of Bocskay described above, these alphabets were embellished by Joris Hoefnagel, a painter at the court of Rudolf II. In embellishing the alphabets, Hoefnagel employed symbols and heraldic objects--masks, animals, plants, obelisks--to convey the power and...
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Overview


Included in the magnificent pages of the Mira calligraphiae monumenta are two alphabets. Executed by an unknown hand, the first consists of Roman capital letters; the other is Gothic lower-case letters. As with the calligraphy of Bocskay described above, these alphabets were embellished by Joris Hoefnagel, a painter at the court of Rudolf II. In embellishing the alphabets, Hoefnagel employed symbols and heraldic objects--masks, animals, plants, obelisks--to convey the power and greatness of the emperor.

An Abecedarium contains the thirty-eight pages from the Mira codex that display Hoefnagel's virtuosity in decorating the alphabets. Calligraphers, graphic artists, and all lovers of beautiful books will delight in Hoefnagel's artistry.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Demeude's preoccupation with letters has led him to bring together illuminated initials and ornamental characters from 12 centuries of alphabets and typography, ranging from 8th-century sacred manuscripts to 20th-century mass-produced postcards. Included are samples from over 100 alphabets created by such artists as Drer, Holbein, Daumier, and Kate Greenaway. The animated letters may be draped with the human form, used to offer historical or biblical scenes, or entwined with naturalistic scenes. While the accompanying historical notes and essays are succinct, the visuals will be of the most value as a study collection. The Getty's diminutive (51/4" x 71/4") volumes contain reproductions and notes on calligraphy and miniature paintings from a work commissioned by the court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II during the 16th century. Currently in the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Mira calligraphiae monumenta (Model Book of Calligraphy) is the combined effort of master calligrapher Georg Bocskay and court artist Joris Hoefnagel. Considered one of the most precious books of the European Renaissance, it represents the transition from medieval European manuscript illumination to the emergence of the floral still life genre of the early 17th century. Nature Illuminated contains reproductions of 41 manuscript pages with meticulous studies of flora and fauna. An Abecedarium contains 38 illuminated reproductions of Roman capital and Gothic lowercase letters. These unique titles are best suited to specialized art and design collections.Judith Yankeilun Lind, Roseland Free P.L., N.J.
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