Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Katalog der Deutschsprachigen Illustrierten Handschriften Des Mittelalters, Vol. VI, Fasc. 3/4: 51. Heiligenleben

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Katalog der Deutschsprachigen Illustrierten Handschriften Des Mittelalters, Vol. VI, Fasc. 3/4: 51. Heiligenleben

Article excerpt

Hella Frühmorgen-Voss, continued by Norbert H. Ott with Ulrike Bodemann, Katalog dur deutschsprackigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters, Vol. VI, fasc. 3/4: 51. Heiligenleben, by Ulrike Bodemann (Munich: Verlag C. H. Beck, 2005). 164 + 18 pp.; io pp. of colour plates and 48 pp. of black-and-white plates. ISBN 3-7696-0950-6. euro49.50.

Ulrike Bodemann's catalogue of Heiligenleben (saints' lives), volume VI in the series on illustrated German manuscripts of the Middle Ages, is more than an extremely useful reference work, it is an eye-opener. Because vernacular saints' lives, like Latin ones, were often extensively illustrated, this reference inventory fills in a sizeable and important section of the picture of medieval manuscript illumination. In this volume Bodemann distinguishes Einzelviten (individual saints' lives) from the vitae anthologized in legendaries. Focusing on contexts as well as texts, she examines the kinds of manuscripts in which individually transmitted Heiligenleben appear. In addition to outlining the contents, and referencing related manuscripts, primary sources, and secondary literature (with additions and corrections to older catalogues), this inventory provides detailed descriptions of the illuminations, summarizing the pictorial content, design, execution, and use of pigments. Also surveyed are illustrated saints' lives published as blockbooks, broadsheets, and early printed books. A helpful appendix with photographs from most of the manuscripts inventoried supplements the written descriptions. Bodemann's approach is constructive, examining each artefact objectively without treating dismissively any works that do not conform to a paradigm of stylistic development.

Besides the catalogue's foreseeable value as a resource for the study of art, book production, and religious and literary history, this volume is, serendipitously, an important source for researchers in the field of women's studies. For, however one tabulates the information contained in it, a striking picture emerges, one that reveals the surprising role played by convent women as scribes, painters of miniatures, and as the principal audience for illuminated Heiligenleben. …

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