[ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT] - Annette von ECKARDT (1871-1934)
Cy Comencent Les Chroniques de Jherusalem Abregies [manuscript facsimile of the original Chronicles of the Crusades in the Austrian National Library]
[Vienna: 1922-24]. Folio. (21 x 11 inches). 34 pages, on fine vellum, written in a batarde hand in red and black ink. 2 full-page and 83 half-page, quarter-page, and column width miniatures illuminated in full color and burnished gold, numerous illuminated initials, all within alternating red and blue borders with gold decoration.
Original vellum over bevelled oak boards. Housed in a black morocco backed box.
Provenance: Ralph C. Runyon (letters by the artist laid in)
Astounding manuscript facsimile of a celebrated illuminated manuscript account of the Second Crusade.
The Croniques de Jherusalem is among the prized possessions of the Austrian National Library. The richly illuminated codex, of which this manuscript is a painstaking exact copy, was prepared on behalf of Phillip the Good, (also known as Phillip III, Duke of Burgundy) circa 1450. Recent scholarship has attributed the original to the Master of Girart de Rouissillon, naming the codex as among his finest works. Phillip the Good is best remembered for his extravagant court, his taste for luxury and his patronage of the arts. During his reign, some six hundred illuminated manuscripts were commissioned, including the Croniques de Jherusalem. The original manuscript came into possession of Emperor Mathias and was passed down by inheritance to Emperor Max I, being notable enough to be mentioned in the inventory of the Treasury at that time. In the mid-18th century, the codex passed to the Imperial Library, later to be renamed the National Library.
In 1922, artist, antiquary and publisher Annete von Eckardt was given permission to copy the famed manuscript, which to that time had not been reproduced. Von Eckardt, perhaps best known for her relationship with Franz Marc, was an extraordinary artist and colourist, as evidenced by this manuscript. In a note laid in, Eckardt describes the two year process by which she accomplished the work: "The original miniatures are shown very rarely and only by exceptional permission. Thanks to the kindness of the Director Herr Smital for two long years of tedious work it was possible to copy leaf by leaf with the aid of a magnifying glass. Again and again every detail of the work was compared with the original, while the precious leaves were kept under a protecting sheet of glass. Great difficulties were produced by the poor light in the library, which being situated in the old in period castle is entirely equipped in the style of the middle ages. Of course to execute the minute work of the miniatures no ordinary water-colours could be used: the lapis lazuli blue, scarlet red, turquois green had to be prepared with the aid of the yellow of eggs, honey, etc. etc. All the gold consists of pure gold and is finished by polishing with an agate style and will never tarnish. Such difficult and tedious copying of precious and antique masterpieces can hardly be expected, if at all, more than once. Therefore, this exquisite work of art, the Chronology of the Crusades, will ever be increasing in value as time goes on."
An extraordinary work of art.
Cf. Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 2533.