- Museum number
Illustrated manuscript, 'Die Offenbarung Jesu Christi', fol. 1; recto: damaged sheet on backing sheet, cut with window to show inscription: 'Offenbarung Jesu Xristi / durch die gantzen bibel'. 1535
Verso: manuscript, with figures of Judas Iscariot with the money-bags and St Matthew, cut and pasted down from another sheet.
Drawings in pen and brown and black ink with watercolour and bodycolour; manuscript writing in ink of various colours
- Production date
Height: 203 millimetres (approx. page size)
Width: 154 millimetres (approx. page size)
- Curator's comments
- Illuminated manuscript in the form of a volume in a modern binding covered with black velvet, containing 45 leaves including a titlepage numbered in manuscript 2-45 (with additional manuscript numbers on the verso of some pages: 2-15 on ff.5-18, 1-24 on ff.22-45), with chiefly quotations from the Old and New Testaments, especially the Book of Revelation; illustrations on the recto and often on the verso as well, in the form of biblical scenes or figures, or roundels and decorative motifs integrated within the text. The recto of f.1 is inscribed 'Offenbarung Jesu Xristi / durch die gantzen bibel', the verso of f.45, '1535'. For the individual leaves, see 1923,0717.2.1-45.
For the verso of this sheet, cf. Berlin, fol. 17 verso.
Lit: Frank Muller, 'Artistes dissidents dans l'Allemagne du seizième siècle: Lautensack - Vogtherr - Weiditz', Bibliotheca Dissidentium series, Baden-Baden 2001 for a complete catalogue of his work; Berthold Kress, 'The Manuscripts and Drawings by Paul Lautensack (1477/78) - 1558) and his Followers' typescript Phd dissertation, Cambridge University, 2006, I, pp.200 ff (excerpts in dossier).
'Popham noted in the register entry that the text of this work differs from that of the printed text of the same title by Lautensack, which was published in Frankfurt in 1619. This is evidently a reference to ‘Offenbarung Jesu Christi . . . durch den Gottsäligen Paulum Lautensack Mahleren und Organisten weilandt in Nürnberg. Uber welche umb völligers Verstants willen die Auslegung M. V. Weigelij hierzu gesetzt worden’, Frankfurt-am-Main (Lucas Jennis), 1619. In fact, the text (pp. 3-70) had been printed from the manuscript ‘Erklärung der Apokalypse’ in the Staatsbibliothek, Bamberg (R.B. Msc. 166, fols. 132-51 and 152-4; Hans Fischer, ‘Katalog der Handschriften der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Bamberg’, Bamberg, iii, 1912, p. 84). In the introduction to the book of 1619 it is stated 'als haben erstliche Paulus Lautensack nicht ohne sonderbare Erleuchtung des Heiligen Geistes etliche Tractätlein über die Offenbarung Jesu Christi sowohl in Schriften als Figuren verfasst', and there is no evidence to suggest that his highly unorthodox writings, chiefly with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity, had been published in any printed form before the 1619 edition. As Valentin W. Weigel (1533-88), the Saxon evangelical minister, noted (‘Super Dium Apocalypsum’, Frankfurt-am-Main, 1619, p. 21): 'One with the name Paul Lautensack, organist and painter, in Nuremberg, fifty years ago explained the Apocalypse with illustrations and writings . . . but no scholar was willing to accept his notions'. Indeed although Lautensack offered his writings to the Reformers at Wittenberg, nothing appeared, for the reason that Weigel gave. Many years after Weigel's publication, Gustav Georg Zeltner, at the end of his study of Lautensack (‘De Pauli Lautensack Fanactici Noribergensis . . . Fatis et Placitus’, Altdorf, 1716, p. 55), concluded, with verses that aptly sum up his contribution: “Cenotaphium: Diss ist der Lautensack / der Weigeln vorgeschrieben / Sein Apocalypsis heisst Abracadabra: Bald war der Kopff verruckt / bald aber wieder da. / Ach wär der Tüncher doch nur by dem Pinsel blieben!“ (‘This is Lautensack, of whom Weigel has written before. His Apocalypse is called Abracadabra. Sometimes his mind was unhinged, but soon normal again. O, that the house-painter had stuck to the brush!’)
The text of the present work consists chiefly of quotations from the Old and New Testaments, especially the Book of Revelation. There is not always a discernible connection between the illustrations and the associated text. Three pictorial symbols obsessively turn up repeatedly: the Sun for the Holy Ghost, the Moon for the Word, and the Star for the Person, as well as certain key words, like ‘Glaub’ (belief). The letters of the Hebrew, Greek and Latin alphabets head many pages, and the words of the Lord's Prayer run on at the bottom of the pages with illustrations, on the versos from fol. 33 to fol. 45.
The following list indicates the main associations behind his symbolism:
Hebrew alphabet = Old Testament = Holy Ghost = Sun
Greek alphabet = New Testament = Person = Star
Latin alphabet = World = Word = Moon
The arrangement, such as it is, stems from the peculiar nature of Lautensack's symbolism, and the intuitive fantasy to which he gave free range in the tables and iconography of his illustrations. Some clues to his private world are to be found in the pamphlet, ‘Was in der Erben Frawen Gundel-fingerin Behausung ... vor gemähle ist angestellt / Nemlich das erste theil von der Offenbarung Jesu Christi Paulus Lautensack des Elten ein Mahler, Anno 1538’, the only small treatise of his to be printed in the author's lifetime.
It is more than likely that 1923,0717.2, dated 1535 (fol. 45 verso), is the earliest surviving version of the work, whose 'gemelde und concept' the City Council had refused to allow to be printed in 1533 (Hampe, ‘Ratsverlässe’, i, p. 278, no.1960 (10 Feb. 1533)). It is in the main less complete in its text, and less elaborately decorated than the other version of the ‘Offenbarung ...’ in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin-Dahlem, also dated 1535 (pressmark: 79 c.4). There are many similarities between the two manuscripts, both in the text and in the illustrations. The freer execution of the drawings in 1923,0717.2, as well as the rougher lay-out of the text, strongly support the proposition that it is earlier than the Berlin version. Also it is worth noting that on the final page of 1923,0717.2 the text breaks off in the middle of a sentence. The comparable illustrations in the Berlin volume are indicated in brackets after the reference to the related illustration in 1923,0717.2, and, where they exist, more elaborate versions of the subject in question that are also in Berlin-Dahlem. Likewise, references are also given, where appropriate, to related drawings in the ‘Offenbarung’ manuscript of 1538, in Nuremberg (Germanisches National-museum, Hs. 3147) which unlike the other manuscripts has uncoloured illustrations.
The city fathers took note of Lautensack's continued persistence in producing such heretical 'bildbüchlein' in 1539 (Hampe, op. cit., i, p. 332, no. 2376 (9 Jan. 1539)), but they only resorted to banishment in 1542.
While the theological background inherent in Lautensack's writings, and, to some extent, a full understanding of his icongraphy should properly be left to scholars of Reformation theology and heresies, an examination of his drawings in 1923,0717.2, and those in Berlin, reveal Lautensack to be an artist who is basically derivative, indeed often repetitious, in his handling of the subjects, however theologically unorthodox they may be.
Other manuscripts connected with Lautensack are 'Tabulae apocalyticae secretiores', and 'Theologische Abhandlungen und Skizzen' (Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Germ. fol. 1179 and 519). The former, which belonged to Valentin Weigel (and includes a text by him), is evidently a later copy, and none of the many drawings and tables appear to correspond with those in 1923,0717.2, or the Berlin-Dahlem version. The drawings in the latter are not by Lautensack, nor probably is the text, which could date from the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century. Finally, with regard to the many drawings in the Bamberg manuscript mentioned above, the crude and unskilled manner of their execution makes it hard to believe that they could have been drawn by Lautensack.'
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- For the reasons for the acqusition of this manuscript, see Dodgson's report to the Trustees dated 5 July 1923.
There is a collector's book label stuck to the verso of the first leaf: "ROSENHEIM COLLECTION/No. A3/33".
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number