SCHÖMPART BÜCH, in German, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER
[Nuremberg, c.1600]362 x 238mm. i + 129 + ii leaves. 16 (iii and iv an inserted double-sheet on a guard), 2-88, 98+2, 1011(i a singleton and vii and viii a double-sheet on a guard), 11-124, 132, 147(viii cancelled blank), 158, 166, 174, followed by five fold-out composite sheets on guards, text-pages frame-ruled with a double red fillet, a varying number of lines written in a cursive German hand in brown ink, NINETY-ONE FULL-PAGE PORTRAITS OF COSTUMED, MASKED REVELLERS PAINTED IN FULL COLOUR AND LIQUID GOLD, some of them facing TWENTY-THREE CARNIVAL FLOATS from a quarter to a full page in height, SEVEN LARGE FOLD-OUT SCENES OF CARNIVALS IN THE STREETS OF NUREMBERG up to 940mm wide (some spotting and thumbing, short splits in outer fold of two large scenes). Seventeenth-century vellum gilt with a vellum wrapper from a fifteenth-century German choir missal, two tawed leather fore-edge ties (wrapper scuffed and repaired or reinforced at joints and foredges, one tie broken).
A COLOURFUL RECORD OF THE NUREMBERG CARNIVAL
Recording one of the great civic festivities of Nuremberg, Schempart, Schembart or Schönbart books, both manuscript and printed, were produced from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The present copy is a particularly rich and detailed example that chronicles various events of local history in addition to the material accepted as typical for these books: S. Sumberg, The Nuremberg Schembart Carnival, 1941; H.-U. Roller, Der Nürnberger Schembartlauf. Studium zum Fest- und Maskenwesen des späten Mittelalters, 1965. This manuscript was discussed in K.A. Nowotny, 'Das Nürnberger Schembartlaufen. Eine neuaufgefundene Handschrift' in Masken in Mitteleuropa, Viena 1955, pp.142-190. It is closely comparable in both content and style with a manuscript in Los Angeles (MS *170/351, Young Research Library, UCLA): The World From Here, Treasures of the Great Libraries of Los Angeles, eds C. Burlingham & B. Whiteman, exh. cat. Los Angeles, 2001-2002, pp.158-159. The paper stock of both has a watermark with a star and M very similar to Briquet 8390-8392 and is likely to have been made in northern Italy in the final decade of the 16th century. The final painting in both manuscripts is the carpenters' dance of 1600 and it seems most probable that both manuscripts were produced around this year. It has been suggested that the Los Angeles manuscript was one of a group made around 1600 to celebrate the third centenary of the Nuremberg city council.
Rudolf Gutmann: his ex-libris inside upper cover, Ms 741.
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek: their library stamp and shelfmark -- Ser. nov. 2977 -- on endleaves and one blank folio and included in their catalogue, p.446. Their de-accession stamp at foot of final endleaf.
The Schempart Lauf -- a carnival parade for Shrove Tuesday -- originated as a privilege granted by the emperor Charles IV in 1349 to the butchers' guild of Nuremberg. The previous year the trade guilds of the city had risen up, overthrown and replaced the patrician town council. After almost a year Charles IV moved against them, reinstated the original regime, had their usurpers executed and had their new building torn down. To reward the butchers' guild for not participating in the revolt the Emperor granted them the right to a special public celebration on Fassnacht: they could wear masks -- the Schembart -- dance, perform fencing matches and parade. The dancers were protected by Laüfer, runners, whose own performance gradually came to be the main event. They wore not only masks but newly designed, extravagant costumes, richly decorated with embroidery and ribbons, and bells that jingled as they ran through the streets. They brandished lances and bunches of leaves -- Lebensrute -- that concealed fireworks. From the end of the 15th-century there were also floats -- called Hölle or hells -- that were the focus of further spectacle. There were at least sixty-four years from 1449 to 1539 when the Schempart carnival took place. It was sometimes suspended because of plague or unrest, occasionally when it did take place it led to disorder and, even, fire. It was the potential -- and actual -- riotousness of these events that caused their eventual demise: in 1539 the general rowdiness offensive to Reformation sensibilities was compounded by the presence on the float of a figure representing the Lutheran minister Osiander, holding a backgammon board, and surrounded by fools and devils. This was a step too far. In spite of various earlier attempts at reinstatement it was not until the 20th-century that the Schempart Lauf once again became part of Nuremberg public life.
The colourful figures, adopting striking attitudes to best display their flamboyant outfits, are enchanting and dramatic evocations of renaissance spectacle. Painted with a lively line and in vivid colours, they are portrayed with an invention that complements the fantasy of dress and ensures that the sequence avoids monotony -- they are shown in action as well as static, in rear-view as well as frontally, in pairs as well as singly. Turning the pages becomes a carnival procession in itself.
TEXTUAL CONTENT AND ILLUSTRATION:
Painted cartouche with Schembart figures (title omitted) f.1; account tracing the origin of the Schempart Lauf ff.1v-2; double-page scene of the ring-dance of the Schempart Gesellschaft of 1466 ff.3v and 4; verse chronicle opening 'Alls man zallt Dreizehen hundert Jar. Unnd Neun und vierzig Jar fur war' on the institution of the Schempart ff.5-6; individual records of all the Schempart carnivals that took place from 1449-1538, over a page-opening with text on the verso giving the name of the leaders, descriptions of the year's costume, significant events of the year, or of years in between carnivals, and on the facing recto an illustration of the costume and the coats of arms of the leaders, in some instances the carnival float for that year is painted on the verso below the text ff.6v-78: additional entries for some years are the list of all the runners in the 1503 Schempart Lauf ff.51v-52, a fuller account of the riotous carnival of 1507 ff.55v-57v list of those taking part in 1518 and reason for non-event in 1519 ff.70v-73; the year 1539, the final year of the event, is described in greater detail: a double sheet showing the procession on the streets of Nuremberg is added on a guard between the customary account (f.78v) and the costume painting (f.81), the participants are listed and the names of those dressed as devils and as wildmen and women are also specified, this is then followed by a series of illustrations of the float and other fantastical costumes worn that year ff.83v-116. The volume ends with five large fold-out scenes showing guild dances including the garland dance, the sword dances of the smiths and cutlers and ending with the carpenters' dance of 1600.