ROSARIUM BIBLIAE (Judges to Apocalypse); attributed to ST AUGUSTINE, Concordantia evangelistarum; in Latin and German, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ILLUSTRATED WITH ENGRAVINGS ON PAPER
[Germany, ?Leipzig], 1500107 x 77mm. v + 135 + v leaves: 111(uncertain, some single and misbound leaves), 219(of 22 lacking i-iii), 316, 422, 520, 622, 720, 85(uncertain, lacking first leaves), faulty modern pagination in upper margin followed here, bifolios of engravings alternated with bifolios of text, the centre bifolio of a quire always of text with the centrefold originally blank so that a page of text always appears beside a page of engraving, about 20 lines written in brown ink in a cursive hand, large initials in red or blue, headings in red, SIXTY FOLIOS WITH HAND COLOURED ENGRAVINGS ON BOTH SIDES, one folio with engraving only on verso, one engraving above text (defective at beginning, lacking other leaves, some leaves misbound, repairs to many leaves including pp.210-11, where corner with text is missing, text worn on some leaves). Modern brown leather over pasteboard, earlier knotted vellum fore-edge tabs. Red solander box.
1. The scribe signed and dated his work Explicit novum testamentum 1500 in die compassione virginis marie hoc est ix kl augusti frater dirk peter(us?) de gemundis, and his name appears again below, Ach wy is der lon so krangk/Wo nicht mehr noch volgeth/Wann dirk peter(us?) hab danck, p.257. His colophon to the Concordantia is now partly illegible but is signed peter de gemundis and dated to 1500 in die apparationis domini, 6 January, p.267. He can be identified as the Frater Theodoricus (Dirk) Peterus de Gemundis who so inscribed a copy of Peter Lombard's Sententiae (Basel, 1492) with a provenance from the library of the Benedictine Abbey of St Stephan in Würzburg. It is now in the Universitätsbibliothek, Würzburg (I.t.f.352). He is almost certainly the man of that name who matriculated at Leipzig University in 1489 (F. Schöningen, Quellen und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Bistums und Hochstifts Würzburg, 55, 2000, p.434). It is not known where he was in 1500. If the inscription below the final engraving, IHENIS, is correctly interpreted as indicating the engravings' origin in Jena, Dirk Peter may still have been in near-by Leipzig when he wrote this text specifically to accompany the engravings (see Jean-Michel Massing, 'From Manuscript to Engravings, Late Medieval Mnemonic Bibles', pp.101-15 in Ars memorativa Zur kulturgeschichtlichen Bedeutung der Gedächtniskunst 1400-1750, J.J. Berns and W. Neuber eds, 1993). Since an early owner of one volume with the engravings was a Jena Dominican, a more precise origin for the prints has been suggested at the Dominican Convent in Jena, given the Dominican mission for educated, informed preaching and teaching (see S. Rischpler, Biblia sacra figuris expressis, Mnemotechnische Bilderbibeln des 15. Jahrhunderts, 2001). Dirk Peter was possibly a Dominican; there was also a Dominican convent in Leipzig. He seems to have produced multiple copies of the text to accompany the engravings: he signed and dated in the same year a manuscript very similar to the Arcana volume, except that its Psalter is in German instead of Latin (formerly in the Hildburghausen Stadtbibliothek, see F. Thoma, 'Petrus von Rosenheim', Das bayerische Inn-Oberland, XXXII, 1962, p.109, where the scribe's name is read as Dietz Peterus).
2. Jacobi Monachi Buttestatiani, p.35: Jacob the Monk of Büttstädt near Weimar, perhaps a Benedictine at St Stephan, Würzburg, which was secularised in 1802; on p.113 there is a monogram of MVB surmounted by a cross with further letters, perhaps W C O H S; other blank centrefolds were used for additions and there are many annotations and a few small drawings.
Rosarium bibliae, based on Petrus de Rosenheim (c.1380-1433), Roseum memoriale, lacking Genesis to Joshua and the beginning of Judges; the final leaf of Judges has been misbound immediately before the text of III Kings, p.14, with no intervening leaf of engravings; II and IV Kings are missing; the book opens with two leaves of engravings followed by Ruth, and is apparently otherwise continuous to the end of the Apocalypse, p.257, concluding with the Destinatio operis pp.258-59. The compressed Psalter, opening Beatus regnat david studia laudat and divided into the eight nocturnes of a liturgical psalter, pp.60-91, is not a part of the original Roseum memoriale. It has been noted in two other manuscripts, one also with the Roseum memoriale (formerly Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, ms 665, see H. Walther and A. Hilka, Initia carminum ac versuum Medii Aevi posterioris, 1969, p.106).
Attributed to St Augustine: Concordantia evangelistarum, lacking opening, pp.260-269.
Between 1423 and 1426 Petrus de Rosenheim produced an elaborate mnemonic compression of the Bible to aid students, clerics and preachers to remember the content of the entire text. Each of the 1194 distychs or two line verses corresponds to a chapter of the Bible, reinforced by a correlation of initial letters to those in the Biblical text. Despite its complexity, the work proved very popular and appeared in three incunable editions. A Benedictine associated with the reforming Abbey of Melk, he was a prolific author who also devised a mnemonic version of Peter Lombard's Sentences that likewise came to be accompanied by engravings, interestingly of the same ten compartment layout as the Biblical series seen here (see S. Rischpler 'Le Coeur voyant', in Medieval Memory, F. Willaert ed., 2004, pp.3-40). Although Petrus de Rosenheim had written a concordance of the Gospels, Dirk Peter included in this volume the one that he and many of his contemporaries attributed to St Augustine.
The fascinating engravings had been attributed to Johannes Heinsius or Jan de Heins, documented in Antwerp in 1557, through a misreading of the inscription under the final engraving, p.258. On a scroll is DE IHENIS above IH on a shield, which Jean-Michel Massing has proposed may connect an engraver IH from Jena with a known early owner of the set, the Dominican Heinricus Hardan of the Jena convent (see Massing, 1993, where the Arcana volume is probably that referred to in n.49, p.114). On p.237 the repeated shield with IH has been overpainted, perhaps because it was taken as an earlier mark of ownership. Far from the usual narrative illustrations, the engravings are symbolic representations of the Bible's meaning. The engraver must have been assisted by a biblical scholar in establishing his elaborate pictorial language which is presented with great vivacity, enhanced by the hand colouring. He was doubtless informed by the existing manuscript tradition for entirely hand-drawn mnemonic Bibles. The absence of precise dates for either the engravings (by 1500) or the three most closely related late 15th-century German manuscripts makes it difficult to determine the relationship of drawings and prints (for Munich, BSB, Clm 23356, Würzburg, UB, ms M.p.th.o.6, and Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, ms 11, see N. Morgan and S. Panayotova eds, A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges, 2009, p.210 with ill. of Fitzwilliam ms 11, f.35, almost identical except for colour to the equivalent engraving, p.63 in the Arcana volume).
Given the size of the prints and the importance of seeing them in sequence, it is likely that sheets were always printed double-sided with the intention that they should form bifolia for binding. Beginning each book of the Bible on a new page, even when the usual ten scenes had not been needed on the preceding page, not only expressed the Bible's structure visually but also facilitated the interleaving of text. It is not, however, clear that the engravings were designed to illustrate a specific version of the Bible. Although five of the six known manuscript volumes with the engravings have at least some text from the Roseum memoriale, the inclusion of the Psalter in the engravings makes it unlikely that Petrus de Rosenheim's text was the specific inspiration; the sixth volume with the engravings has extracts from Alexander de Villa Dei's Summarium biblicum (Schulpforta, IB, ms A 6). The manuscript in Munich (BSB, Clm 697) has the Roseum memoriale preceding the sequence of engravings, while that in Innsbruck (FB 129) has only some extracts of the Roseum, also apparently the case for the volume in a private collection (for these manuscripts see Massing, 1993, and Rischpler, 2001, especially pp.191-95). It is not clear how Brother Dirk Peter placed the engravings in the lost and inadequately described volume formerly in Hildburghausen but the Arcana volume shows that he was apparently the only scribe or book designer to rise to the challenge of fully integrating the engravings with text pages. The result is an intriguing witness to the period when the press provided not just competition but opportunities for the scribe.