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les Enluminures

ANNA KELLERIN’S PRAYER BOOK [Devotional Meditations on the Life of Christ]

In German, with some Latin, manuscript on paper
Southern Germany (Augsburg?), 1604
42 hand-colored engravings and 2 paintings on parchment

TM 1105
  • 52 600 €
  • £45,200
  • $55,000

294 folios on paper, unidentified watermark of two towers in between an archway of one line, modern foliation in pencil top outer corner recto, ii (unnumbered) + 292 (last three blank), complete (collation i8 [1 and 2, unnumbered] ii6 [beginning f. 7] iii8 iv6 v10 vi6 vii10 viii6, continuing with quires of six regularly alternating with quires of 10 through quire xxxv10, xxvi6 xxvii12 [11 and 12, cancelled blanks], written in a cursive gothic bookhand in twenty-two to twenty long lines, majuscules with red strokes, red rubrics, 1- to 2-line red initials, 42 ENGRAVINGS, hand-colored and with gold and silver frames, pasted-in and them framed in red ink, TWO PAINTINGS ON PARCHMENT, also pasted in, and then framed in ink, in very good condition, the first few folios a bit tattered and with darkened edges, occasional foxing. CONTEMPORARY BINDING of blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, with a narrow outer frame with small ovals with faces in profile interspersed with foliage, and a broader frame with a roll including the Baptism of Christ, the Lamb of God(?), and the Resurrection, framing central panel stamps of the Crucifixion above the text, “ECCE AGNVS DEI QVI/ TOLLIT PECCATA MVND” on the front cover, and the Resurrection above the text, “MORS ERO MORS TVA MOR/ MORSVS ERO TVVS INFERN” [cf. Hosea 13:14],” on the back cover, title written on paper pasted to head of spine, two clasps, joints cracking at head and foot, lacking one strap, corners and bottom edge worn, some wear to front and back covers. Dimensions 180 x 140 mm.

The exceptional richness of this hybrid manuscript, copied by a religious woman who signs her name, is a reminder that the phenomenon of manuscripts illustrated with printed engravings continued long after the fifteenth century. Its extensive text in German, organized according to the liturgical year to tell the story of the life and ministry of Christ, is apparently unstudied.  Likewise, the prints, a veritable treasure-trove of German devotional prints, are mostly unpublished, including the many examples by the Augsburg engraver Tobias Manasser.  Two paintings on parchment complete the volume, which is preserved in its original very fine panel-stamped binding.


1. Written by sister Anna Kellerin in 1604; her colophon on f. 289v states that she completed the book on the feast day of St. Michael (September 29) “in holy obedience” and asks for prayers (transcribed below). Anna Kellerin, or Keller, was a common name in Germany at this time, and although there are a number of people by that name in published sources, we have not identified our scribe, who was a nun, or perhaps a tertiary or lay sister. The manuscript was certainly copied in Southern Germany, possibly in Augsburg, where many of the engravings were printed. The text on f. 7v mentions St. Conrad’s day, celebrated on November 26, to mark the beginning of Advent, in contrast with most liturgical manuscripts that begin the Sanctoral in Advent with St. Saturninus (November 29).  St. Conrad was bishop of Constance, and his feast was also celebrated as a duplex in the diocese of Augsburg. (Conrad’s Life was written c. 1120 by Udalschalk, a monk, and later abbot, of the Augsburg monastery of St. Ulrich and St. Afra.)  The panel-stamps found on the binding (discussed below), also possibly link the binding to Augsburg.

Illustrated with 42 engravings, including many from a series on the Life of Christ (Vita salvatoris domini nostri Iesu Christi cum variis inconibus), Augsburg, 1601 by Tobias Manasser (see the title plate for this series, f. 225: “Tobias Manaser Augustae excudit anno 1601”). The manuscript was designed with the engravings in mind from the outset, which are glued into spaces left by the scribe that exactly fits their size and shape.

2. Inside front cover, two inscriptions in German (early); and in pencil, a brief modern dealer’s summary, also in German, and 62, circled.


ff. 1-3, [Prayer in 11 stanzas, each beginning with “O”]; incipit, “Item Das seind die ‘O’ vnd wirt hörlich darzu gelut und disses gesangt unnd lutten …”; [ff. 3v-6, blank];

ff. 6v-123, Advent-Good Friday, illustrated with the Life of Christ from the Nativity through the Crucifixion, including his miracles and teachings:

[f. 6v, Inserted miniature, described below]; ff. 7-15v, Das wirt ain kurze ordung wie sich ain mensch schicken und beraitten mag ufs etliche fest im Jar doch ond verbinden, incipit, “Zu dem Ersten wie du dich Beraitten solt … [f. 7v], Ich disze nach geschreibnen stuct solt du anfachen an Sant Conrads tag und Ber alle tag v pater noster … , [f. 8], Das Erst stuck, incipit, “Zu dem Ersten Dass hausz das ist der Himmel daruss sich das ewig wort genaigt hat …”;

ff. 15v-17, [Advent], Bet och den Aduent disze nach geschreibnen Maria vnnser lieben frawen zu Eren. Das erste Aue, incipit, “O maria du wirdige mutter gottes … [10 stanzas, each concluding with an Ave maria];

ff. 17-20v, Prayer to Mary on St. Thomas’ Day and continuing for 30 days;

ff. 20v-34, [Birth of Christ], An der hailigsten nacht der geburtt xhristi, incipit, “So man mettin leit so stand vfs vnd sprich wie her nach stät, …”; … [f. 25, 20 prayers speaking of the devotee’s love of Christ], Mit diszen Lobinigen so Griess das Edel kindlin an dem hailig en tag ober wen du wilt, incipit, “Ich Loben dich du Ewige Wiszhait das du bist alpha et omega …”;

ff. 34v-38, [Meditation on the letters of the name of Jesus], Vonn dem süssen namen Jesus, Der da hat V. buchstaben und wilt du gern … der mess darin ordnem, incipit, “Das erst ist ain ‘I’ …”; [f. 35v], Von dem namen Ihesus ain hörlich 16 gebet, Sprichs wan du wist, incpit, “Gegrusset suszest du aller hailige …”;

ff. 38-44v, [Prayers for Epiphany], Van den tag der hailigen dreii Kunig, …”; [f. 42], Dominus dixit ad me filius meus es tu ego hodie genui te. Das … f. 42v, Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis et vidiums gloriam eius … Diser edel leib ist och dict gerotter worden mit …”;

ff. 44v-45v, [Flight into Egypt], Die flücht in Egipten, Item das fest in egiptem magst du …, Gebett, incipit, “Ich lob er vnd sanct dir herz Ihesu christe …”;

ff. 46v-49v, [Jesus teaching in the Temple when he was twelve], Uf den tag als der her verloren ward Da er xii Jar alt was ufs den .1. tag Sprich, incipit, “Iob er vnd danct. Sag ich dir herr Ihesu christe dein er groszen liebe. In der du dein götliche hochzeit zu eren …”;

ff. 50-53, Vfs den Sonentag …; [f. 51], Item, Wer for der Veronica bettet fünff pater noster vnnd Aue maria vnd das her nach geschreiben Bettlin zu funff malen spricht vnd och zu .v. malen kusset der sol …; [f. 51v, parchment painting of Veronica’s veil], … “;

ff. 53v-54, [Septuagesima Sunday], Van den sonnen tag Septuagesima so man das ala legt, In diszer zit halt uns für du für di Mutter der Crist enlichen kirchen der stand …;

ff. 54v-59v, Vnnd fach an in diszer hailige zeit ain gaistlich inige merfart …”;

ff. 59v-83, [First Sunday in Lent], Der Erst Sonentag so man allagelget so sprich oder gedenct, incipit, “O herr Mein gott schopffer unnd Erlosser ich arme …”; [f. 60v], Van den andren Sonentag, …”; [f. 62v, third Sunday], Vfs den driten Sonnentag ist der herren fassnacht, …; [f. 81v], Vfs den Sonntag Letare, incipit, “Nun für dich das ewangeli dar in du findest wie Christus …” [retells the Gospel passage, and then explains it];

ff. 83v-123, [Good Friday, Palm Sunday (f. 87), Holy Thursday (f. 96v)], … vnd glori on end …, etc.,” Amen;

ff. 123v-224v, Easter through Corpus Christi [The Feasts of Our Dear Lord Jesus Christ]:

ff. 123v-168, [Easter], Van den hailigen Tag zu Ostern, incipit, “So du in dem morgen …”;

ff. 168v-183v, Ufs den hoch wirdigen tag der himel fart uns erglieben heren und erlöser, …; [ff. 174-178, Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, lemmata in Latin, text in German];

ff. 183v-222v, Pentecost; ff. 187v-193v, Prayers for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; f. 200v, Feast of Corpus Christi;

ff. 222v-224v, [Prayer of St. Bridget], Besthlüsz die fest alle mit Dissem gebett das hat die selig S. pirgita gemachet, incipit, “O mein ainiger ewiger warer got meins Herzen ainiger lieb …deines sussen Herzen vnd namen In dich amen, amen, amen,” Hie endet sich die fest ussers lieben herren Jhesu Christi, Deo gracias;


ff. 225-251v, Hie nach findestum kurze betrachtung des hailigen ewangeli die sind durch de ganz Jar ufs die Sunnentag wen mit sonder grosz fest sind. Der erst sunnentag nach den fest corporis christi …;

A short consideration of the Holy Gospels, beginning with the first Sunday after Corpus Christi through the 25th Sunday following.

ff. 252-260v, Hie nach folgend die iiii sonnentag in dem aduent … [Four Sundays and ferial days in Advent];

ff. 260v-265v, Hie nach volgend die sunnentag nach der hailigen drii kunig tag. Der est ist von der hochzit … [Sundays following Epiphany; Septuagesima, Sexagesima, Quinquagesima];

ff. 265v-282, [Lent through Easter, and the eight days after Easter], Wie du gaistlich das küchle solt holen finstest an seiner stat. Nun merck disz hailig zet der fasten nim alle tag ain stuck fur dich darin du dir fasten wachen betten singen lesen troin vnd lassen. Magst ordnen du magst och das selb stuck vfs ainen. … Der esrt tag in der fasten ist die esterig mit woch, …”;

ff. 282-289v, Die vii pater noster mit vii manngen von dem leiden christi vnd wirt vii tugenden … für ales das du schuldig bist zu bitten die magstum sprechen vfs grossen fest so man dem conuent. Fur all stend in sonder enpfilche zu bitten. Das erst pater noster, incipit, O herr Ihesu christe Ich dancken dir alles leidens …”; f. 288v, Das Betlin hat S. francisus gemacht, incipit, O allmechstiger ewiger vnd Barherziger got gib uns armen fundigen menschen …, Sit Laus Deo in eternum; f. 289v, [Colophon], incipit, “Diss Buch ist geschreiben worden in der hailigen gehorsame vnd geendet ufs den tag des hailigen Erz Engels Michahelis nach christi geburt gezelt 1.600.4 Jar. Vmb[?] gottes willen der schreiberin ain Ave Maria und Requiem. S[chwester] Anna Kellerin. Deo Gratias.” [ff. 290-292v, blank].

The text is far more complex and richer than a simple Prayer Book. In many ways it follows in the tradition of late medieval meditations on the life of Christ, but with a focus both on a fervent and emotional devotional practice, and the traditional prayers of the Catholic Church (often repeated many times). It is not a text for learned clerics; there are no references to other authors, or to the commentary tradition. The opening rubric (f. 7), Das wird ein kurze ordnung wie sich ein mensch schicken und beraitten mag ufs etliche fest im Jar doch on verbinden, describes it as a “brief guide” or “order” to the feasts of the year.  The text begins with Advent, and proceeds through the liturgical year, describing appropriate devotional activities with numerous prayers, and underlining the connection to the life and ministry of Christ.  The attention to the Gospel readings, with paraphrases and explanations, is noteworthy. There are many meaningful digressions (for example, a meditation on the letters of Jesus’s name, another on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and a commentary on the Lord’s Prayer). Following Corpus Christi, the text focuses on explanations of the Gospel readings for the long series of summer Sundays.


Two inserted parchment miniatures:

f. 6v, 108 x 70 mm.; woman dressed in blue, kneeling in prayer with her hands clasped, behind her a table with a large ring, on a highly polished gold background, framed in blue, purple and red, with an outer frame of small red squares with black dots;

f. 51v, 62 x 42 mm.; Veronica, with a papal hat and crossed keys behind her, holding the veil with Christ’s image, against a light-colored background with green at the bottom; framed in small red squares with black dots.

Forty-two hand-colored engravings, pasted into blank spaces left within the text, and then framed in red ink (each engraving fits perfectly into the space planned for it by the scribe).  The majority of these are by Tobias Manasser, and often include his initials.  Some include the initials of other engravers but are similar in overall style and execution.  A handful, however, are notably different in style (see ff. 54v, 65, and 207v; perhaps ff. 113v, 194).

Tobias Manasser seems to be little known or studied today.  He was a printer and editor in Augsburg and then in Graz (brief mention, listing no works, in Zijlma, Hollstein, v. 23, p. 222).  Thieme-Becker, vol. 24, p. 21, states he was an “illuminist” from Augsburg, active in Graz from c. 1634 and died in 1640; he was Daniel Manasser’s cousin. Daniel Manasser, editor and engraver, left a larger impact in the scholarly literature; he was born in Augsburg in the late sixteenth century, and was active in Graz from 1633-1637; he was the father of David Manasser.  This family included numerous other engravers, including Anna Maria Manasser (1667-1695), Johann Georg Manasser (1595-1655; Hollstein, v. 23, pp.  217-219), and Johann Kaspar Manasser (1640-1684).

­Tobias can now be credited with a series of engravings on the life of Christ; as mentioned above, the title engraving, dated Augsburg, 1601, is inserted here on f. 225.  We have found no other mentions of this series in the literature.  Many of the engravings in the volume are signed with Tobias’s initials. It seems likely they were taken from more than one series (two are numbered ‘19’).

Subjects as follows (each 88-93 x 66 mm. unless otherwise indicated below):

f. 20v, Nativity, 90 x 70 mm., caption, “Verbum caro factum est et habitauit in nobis Ioan”;

f. 32v, Circumcision of Christ, with initials ‘IO’ and ‘CK’, caption “Aspice quem ferias … mundi hic seruator, IESVS”;

Very similar and with the same inscription: British Museum, Nn, 7.4.13 (Online Resources), Adriaen Collaert after Jan van der Street, from his series on the Life of the Virgin, Beatae intacta semper Virginis Mariae

f. 34v, Veneration of the name Jesus (center IHS in sunburst), 93 x 66 mm., caption, “In nomine IESV omne genu flectatur …”;

f. 38v, Adoration of the Magi, caption, “Reges de Saba veniunt. Aurum, Thus, Myrrham offerunt” [from a Hymn, not biblical];

f. 44v, Flight into Egypt, with caption, “Iam furit Herodes matrem citus eripe fatis et puerum pete niliacas vagus exul arenas”;

Very similar to Collaert’s print from the Beatae intacta semper virginis mariae series, but reversed; British Museum, Nn, 7.4.14 (Online Resources).

f. 46v, Jesus teaching in the temple, numbered ‘9’, “M. ex.”;

f. 53v, Baptism of Christ, numbered ‘10’, “T M”;

f. 54v, Christ child, holding an orb and standing on a sailing ship, with medallion IHS, and inscription at the top, “Vincit laeo de tribu Iuda”; 84 x 60 mm. (from a different series of prints than most included here);

f. 65, Christ, half length, bleeding, his hands bound, with the lamb around his shoulders, text at the bottom, 75 x 55 mm.;

f. 72v, Christ being tempted by a demon, 88 x 66 mm., ‘11’, “T M”;

f. 79, (Miracle at Gadera) Christ casting out demons, pigs in background, 88 x 66 mm., ‘19’, “T M”; caption, “Iesus sanat duos daemonicos, Matt 8”;

f. 81v, Miracle of the Loaves, Jesus feeding the 5,000, ‘25’;

f. 83v, Jesus raises Lazarus, ‘32’;

f. 86v, Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Jesus, ‘24’, “T M”;

f. 87v, Palm Sunday, Entry into Jerusalem;

f. 96v, Mary saying farewell to Jesus [caption in capitals with reversed letters];

f. 97v, Last Supper, ‘2’, “T M”;

f. 99v, Christ and the apostles in Gesthemane, ‘4’, “T M”;

f. 104v, Arrest of Christ;

f 106, Crucifixion, “T M”;

f. 111v, Mary, flanked by Angels, with the Body of Christ, Sic Deus dilexit mundum, ‘D.C’;

f. 113v, The Way of the Cross, including two figures (Mary and John?), showing Christ’s bloody footsteps leading upwards toward a mountain with a chalice; in the background, Ascension of Christ, 75 x 55 mm.; caption in German, “Wer nach volgt Christi fues staffell/ Der hatt das ewig leben”;

f. 123v, Resurrection (Christ rises from the tomb), ‘19’;

f. 136v, The risen Christ known in the breaking of the bread, “T. Manes. ex.”;

f. 140v, The miraculous catch of fish (Christ and the apostles fishing), ‘16’, “T M”;

f. 142, Noli me tangere (Christ appears to Mary Magdalene);

f. 147v, Christ showing his wounds to Thomas, “T M ex”;

f. 154v, (Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the lamb), Christ triumphant, holding the cross, with the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and angels above, and the Church below, 108 x 63 mm., “D C”;

f. 165v, Mass of St. Gregory, with instruments of the Passion, “SANC [sic] GREGORIVS Gr”;

f. 168v, Ascent of Jesus into Heaven

f. 183v, Pentecost, “T M ex”;

f. 193v, Gnadenstuhl, God the Father holding the Dead and wounded Christ, with the dove above; 96 x 64 mm.;

f. 200v, Two Angels supporting a Monstrance; 88 x 68 mm., caption, “EICHARISTIAE [sic] Peter nes”;

f. 207v, Procession of children followed by a priest holding a monstrance outside a church; 83 x 65 mm., caption at the top, “Die himlisch Procession”;

­f. 225, [Title plate from a series], Roundel with Jesus, inscribed, “Vita salvatoris domini nostris iesu christi cum variis iconibus,” with IHS roundel above, and an oval inscribed “Tobias Manaser Augustae excudit Anno 1601”;

f. 228v, Christ the Good Shepherd, “Tobias Maneser,” and “D C”;

f. 236v, Jesus laments over Jerusalem, “T M ex”;

f. 241v, Jesus cures the ten lepers, “T M ex”;

f. 250v, Jesus cures the hemorrhaging woman, ‘21’, “T M ex”;

f. 260v, Miracle of the wedding feast at Cana, ‘12’, “T M ex”;

f. 263, Jesus calms the sea.


The central panel stamps of the Crucifixion and Resurrection on the front and back covers of this manuscript’s beautiful blind-stamped calf binding were used by a number of German binders over a period of time (with small differences in each case, including variations in the texts found below the panels). The panels on our binding are signed ‘H K’; these initials are found at the top of the panel of the Crucifixion (flanking what would be the ‘INRI’ inscription, although these initials were not filled in), and on the Resurrection panel slightly above and to the left of the text. The closest parallel we have identified is Einbanddatenbank k008704, p001622 (Online Resources), although in this case the initials are ‘H. O’ (leading Haebler to suggest an identification with the Augsburg binder, Hans Ortlieb, active in the first quarter of the seventeenth century; this identification is considered questionable by the Einbanddatenbank, Werkstatt w002794). For examples of other uses of these panel stamps, see the mid-16th century German pigskin binding on a printed volume now in the Folger library (Online Resources), and the binding on a manuscript from Germany, Saxony, perhaps Leipzig, c. 1580, formerly on this site, TM 182. The bindings from Caspar Gensler’s workshop, EBDB w007729, p003756 and p003755, from Wittenberg, late sixteenth century, are also very similar, but with different texts; and they appear to be slightly larger.

The identity of the author (or perhaps compiler might be a better work) of the text of this manuscript, its sources, and its relationship to other German devotional works, are all questions that remain to be answered. It may be a unique text written as a guide for the devotional life of one community of religious women.  Certainly, this manuscript was carefully planned so that text and image work together; for example, the parchment painting of St. Veronica and her veil is preceded by instructions specifying prayers to be said before the image; and the text on f. 54v invites the devout to undertake a holy voyage, illustrated by a strange little engraving of a giant infant Christ on a ship. 

Manuscripts illustrated by woodcuts or engravings are a particularly interesting type of hybrid books, a term used today to describe the mixed-media volumes produced in the age of printing, including volumes that combine hand-written and printed texts, and printed volumes with illuminations or other decoration done by hand (Hindman and Farquhar, 1977; Hindman, 2009; Schmidt, 2003; Rudy, 2015).  Many of the known examples of this practice, like the manuscript described here, were made in female convents, especially in Germany and in the Dutch-speaking Netherlands where the religious life was strongly influenced by the spiritual movement Devotio Moderna (the Modern Devotion) in the fifteenth century.  All too often, prints were removed from manuscripts by collectors.  Here, we are fortunate to be able to understand how the prints were intended to function alongside the text.


Haebler, K. and I. Schunke. Rollen- und Plattenstempel des XVI Jahrhunderts…, Leipzig, 1928-1929.

Hindman, Sandra.  Pen to Press, Paint to Print:  Manuscript Illumination and Early Prints in the Age of Gutenberg, Paris and Chicago, 2009.

Hindman, Sandra and James Douglas Farquhar.  Pen to Press:  Illustrated Manuscripts and Printed Books in the First Century of Printing, College Park, 1977.

Rudy, Kathryn M. Image, Knife, and Gluepot: Early Assemblage in Manuscript and Print, New edition [online], Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2019. Available online, http://books.openedition.org/obp/9133.

Rudy, Kathryn M.  Postcards on Parchment:  The Social Lives of Medieval Books, New Haven and London, 2015.

Schmidt, Peter. Gedruckte Bilder in handgeschriebenen Buechern. Zum Gebrauch von Druckgraphik im 15. Jahrhundert, Pictura et Poesis Interdisziplinäre Studien zum Verhältnis von Literatur und Kunst,16, Cologne, Weimar, Vienna, 2003.

Thieme, Ulrich et al. Allgemeines lexikon der bildenden künstler von der antike bis zur gegenwart, vol. 24, Hans Vollmer, ed., Leipzig, 1930, p. 21.

Weekes, Ursula. Early Engravers and Their Public: The Master of the Berlin Passion and Manuscripts from Convents in the Rhine-Maas Region, ca. 1450–1500 (London: Harvey Miller, 2004), especially 81–119.

Parshall, Peter W, and Rainer Schoch. Origins of European Printmaking: Fifteenth-century Woodcuts and Their Public. Washington: National Gallery of Art, in association with Yale University Press, New Haven, 2005. 

Zijlma, Robert. Hollstein’s German Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts, vol. 23: Erasmus Loy to Jakob Mayr, Rotterdahm, 1979 (brief mention of Tobias Manasser, p. 222). 

Online Resources


LUNA: Folger Bindings Image Collection

British Museum, Nn, 7.4.13, Adriaen Collaert after Jan van der Straet, Circumcision of Christ,

British Museum, Nn, 7.4.14, Adriaen Collaert after Jan van der Straet, Flight into Egypt

“Tobias Manasser,” Print Council of America

“Tobias Manasser,” artnews.de

TM 1105