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ALBUM AMICORUM of Julius Pflug. Illuminated manuscript on paper
ALBUM AMICORUM of Julius Pflug. Illuminated manuscript on paper

ALBUM AMICORUM of Julius Pflug. Illuminated manuscript on paper
Holland, Germany, France, England, Sweden, Russia and Italy, 1600-1613
183 x 118mm. 174 leaves, INCLUDING APPROXIMATELY 45 BLAZONED COATS OF ARMS (AND ONE ENGRAVED ARMORIAL), 42 COSTUME BOOK ILLUSTRATIONS AND SEVEN OTHER MINIATURES, also including approx 75 leaves of Turkish marbled or ghost-printed paper (ebru), (some cropping affecting text). 20th-century blue morocco gilt by Asper Frères.

Julius Pflug (who signs in Greek, 'Ioulios Phlougiades' on the last leaf), who is identified in the inscriptions as from the Low Countries, and by 1613 as prefect of the court of Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Prince of Wolfenbüttel.

The miniatures include a splendid suite of 42 costume illustrations from a Turkish costume book, depicting the whole gamut of society from courtiers and clerics to soldiers, musicians (some mounted) and peasants, women and children. The Turkish flavour is continued in the album's fine assembly of Turkish decorated papers (known as ebru): these were largely unknown in Europe until they began to be imported in the 16th Century and were especially favoured for inclusion in alba amicorum. They were an expensive enhancement to a volume and usually only a few leaves were included. The papers are of two general types: either those where the untreated paper had been dipped in several colours to produce marbling, or the highly attractive pages with a ghostly floral or ornamental design that had been applied with the use of thin leather cut-outs. Part of the reason for their high cost was that after manufacture the leaves were treated with a solution of animal and vegetable binders to stabilise and seal the paper, which was then left to mature for several years.

The additional miniatures comprise: f.29v A knight in armour carrying a pennant with the arms of the Medici; f.41v Three figures in court costume (heightened with liquid gold); f.52 An allegory of political science; f.134 Drawing of a horsemen firing an arquebus; f. 139 A couple elegantly dressed, a folding flap in the woman's dress lifting to reveal a page adjusting the lock of her chastity belt; f.142 Three female figures in Eastern European dress; f.161v A grotesque duel of animals in human dress.

The widely-travelled Julius Pflug's album amicorum contains inscriptions from a glittering cast, including not only Henry, Prince of Wales (f.1, 'Fax mentis honestae gloria', 1603: Henry was the charismatic older brother of Charles I, who died at the age of 18 in 1612) and his tutor Adam Newton, but also some of the most distinguished contemporary European scholars and public figures, including Joseph Scaliger (7-line Latin verse, and his device 'Fuimus Troes', f.15), Axel Oxenstiern, the great Lord High Chancellor of Sweden, Daniel Heinsius (inscription in Latin and Greek, 1603), Caspar Peucer (astronomer and doctor, son-in-law of Melanchthon) and Isaac Casaubon (the philologist, Paris, 1606); other names of interest include Francesco Piccolimini of Siena, Gabriel Osorio de Guevara, Guillaume Vossius, Mathias van Craesbeke, Jean Hotman de Villier (Paris, 1606), and Charles de Laubespine, counsellor to the Parlement of Paris (1608).

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