BIRGITTA (1302/03-1373, Saint). Revelationes. Translated from Swedish into Latin by Petrus Olavi. Foreword by Matthias de Suecia. - Johannes de TURRECREMATA (1388-1468). Defensiorum super Revelationes caelestes sanctae Birgittae [extract]. - Vita abbreviata S. Birgittae. - Hymnus ad Beatam Birgittam. Edited by Florian Waldauf von Waldenstein (c. 1450-1510). Nuremberg: Anton Koberger at the instigation of Maximilian I, 21 September 1500.
Chancery 2o (307 x 215 mm). Collation: [16 28]; a-z A-F8 G-H6; 2a-f8 g6 title with full-page woodcut, editor's preface, 1/2r full-page woodcut arms of Maximilian I, 1/2v full-page woodcut arms of Florian Waldauf, 1/3r Turrecremata, 1/6r Bull of Birgitta's canonization by Pope Boniface IX on 7 October 1391, 2/2v confirmation of the canonization by Pope Martin V on 7 January 1419, 2/5r-2/6r prayers with woodcuts, 2/6v prologue by Matthias de Suecia, 2/8r list of contents, 2/8v prayer with woodcuts; a1r text, H5v colophon, G6 blank; 2a alphabetical subject index, 2g5v explicit, 2g6 blank). 311 leaves (of 312, final blank removed). 57 lines and headline, double column. 7 full-page woodcuts, including 2 portraits of St. Bridget and two armorial cuts, plus 51 smaller cuts assembled to form 10 more full-page illustrations, THE WOODCUTS FINELY COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND in orange, red, green, blue, purple, ochre and brown. 11-line and smaller initial spaces, most with printed guide- letters. Unrubricated. (Some worming in first and last few quires, causing loss to a few letters in quires d and e, a few sheets a bit darkened, repaired tear to x5 crossing corner of woodcut.)
Binding: contemporary Swiss binding of blind-tooled pigskin spine over wooden boards, the leather decorated with flowering vine and fleur-de-lys rolls framing repeated impressions of two armorial stamps of Peter Falck (stamped in later), two brass fore-edge catchplates (lacking clasps), parchment index tabs, manuscript paper label on spine.
Provenance: Peter Falck (1468-1519): woodcut armorial device printed directly on final page (in 1516 or later), an assemblage of small Maltese crosses added neatly in ink by Falck; binding stamps as above; his armorial insignia supplied in ink to the blank shield of the woodcut of a kneeling man flanking the cut of St. Bridget on 2/5r, those of his wife Anna von Garmiswil added in pen-and-ink to the shield of the female worshiper on Bridget's right -- by descent to Anna Maria von Lanthen-Heidt, donated by her to -- Heinrich Fuchs (d. 1689), Vicar-General of Bishop Knab, later administrator of the diocese Lausanne-Geneva: inscription on title dated 1677 (Henrici Vulpii decani 1677 Vicarii Generalis, partly effaced), bequeathed to -- Fribourg, Capuchins: inscription on title dated 1689 (L. ff. Capuc. fribg. Helv. 1689, effaced); sold after 1918 -- [Lathrop Harper, 1979].
A FINELY COLORED COPY, FROM THE LIBRARY OF PETER FALCK, of the second Latin edition and first Koberger edition of the visions of the motherly Swedish saint. As the young wife of a Swedish nobleman Bridget had studied Latin with her sons under Nicholas of Linköping. After the death in 1344 of her husband, who had retired to a Cistercian monastery in Spain, she began to experience visions, and undertook the study of theology with Magister Matthias (who himself had studied under Nicholas of Lyra in Paris). In this work she recorded the visions and prophecies given her by Christ and the Virgin Mary. Including both instructions for the betterment of human life and terrifying visions of divine punishment, her visions prompted her to urge the Pope's return to Rome from Avignon and to found a new religious order. Bridget's confessor Petrus Olavi, priest of Alvestra, translated her massive work into Latin. He was also the author of a Vita S. Birgittae, the source of the Vita abbreviata in the printed editions. The affective spirituality of Bridget's teachings, which paid particular attention to the Virgin, won her great popularity in the late Middle Ages.
The first Latin and first complete edition, used by Koberger as copy-text for this edition, was printed at Lübeck by Bartholomaeus Ghotan for the use of the Bridgetine Cloister at Vadstena in 1492 (GW 4391). Emperor Maximilian's secretary Florian Waldauf, who had a special affection for St. Bridget and her order, persuaded Maximilian to commission from Koberger both a Latin edition and a High German translation (published in 1502 and illustrated with the same woodcuts), in order to make the saint's visions accessible to a South German audience. The Koberger woodblocks were copied from the cuts of the 1492 edition, thought to have been designed by the lay brother Gerhardus. Long attributed to Albrecht Dürer, today only the two armorial cuts are considered his work, the remainder having been reassigned to the Dürer workshop, possibly after the master's sketches.
This volume was owned by the Swiss humanist Peter Falck, a native of Fribourg, the contents of whose important library were reconstructed by Adalbert Wagner in 1926 (Peter Falcks Bibliothek, Bern 1926). Falck acquired the core of his library in Italy, where he served from 1512 to 1514 under the Duke of Milan and as papal diplomat under Pope Julius II. Many of Falck's books were bound at Fribourg, by Fr. Rolet Stos at the Franciscan convent. The present volume, no. 31 of Wagner's list, is decorated with none of the decorative tools associated with Stos (cf. Schwenke-Sammlung text vol., p. 96), although the two armorial tools are attributed by Wagner to Stos (p. 189). Falck had his fine woodcut coat-of-arms engraved in 1516. The engraver erroneously omitted the cross of Jerusalem with four smaller crosses, which Falck had adopted as his insignia after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1515; this was added in ink by Falck to all known examples of the woodcut (Wagner, p. 188, calling it the oldest known ex-libris from Fribourg).
After his death Falck's library passed to his daughter Ursula von Praroman. It was subsequently divided between her two sons Nikolaus and Wilhelm, and passed down through their families, to be more or less reunited in the late 17th century in the Capuchin convent at Fribourg. The present volume was one of those inherited by Wilhelm; this group passed by descent to one Anna Marie von Lanthen-Heidt, a wealthy noblewoman who had married Wilhelm's grandson Nikolaus von Praroman en secondes noces. After her husband's death in 1675 Anna gave the books to her friend the vicar-general Heinrich Fuchs. Fuchs in turn gave part of the books to the Capuchins the year before he died; the remainder passed to the convent after his death in 1689. This copy is the only one listed by Wagner in which Fuchs recorded the date, presumably of his receipt of the book. Wagner's list of 269 works in 131 volumes consisted largely though not exclusively of books still at Fribourg in 1918, including the present volume, sold by the convent at an unknown later date. Another illustrated volume from Falck's library, a copy of the 1510 Suetonius, with similar hand-coloring, was owned by Giannalisa Feltrinelli and sold in Part One of the sale of her library, Christie's New York, 7 October 1997, lot 104.
This edition is rarer than Koberger's 1502 German translation; ABPC lists only two complete copies sold at auction since 1975. HC 3205; BMC II, 445 (IB.7558); BSB-Ink. B-531; CIBN B-480; Harvard/Walsh 763; Schreiber 3504; Goff B-688.