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les Enluminures

MISSAL (use of Olmütz)

In Latin, illustrated manuscript on paper
[southern Germany (Moravia) for the Cathedral of St.-Wenceslas in Olmütz, c. 1470s; amended shortly thereafter in Austria (Passau?) after 1485, c. 1498 ?]

TM 68

210 [of 218] leaves, missing 8 leaves (5 with text?), ff. 24, 68, 97, 106, 115, 193, 194, of which probably 106, 193, and 194 were blank, (collation: i1, ii11 [12-1; missing folio probably blank], iii11 [12-1; lacking f. 24], iv12, v14, vi12, vii11 [12-1, lacking f. 68], viii12, ix9 [10-1, lacking f. 90], x8 [10-2, lacking ff. 97 and 106, the latter probably blank], xi9 [10-1, lacking f. 115], xii-xv10, xvi14, xvii12, xviii10 [12-2, lacking ff.. 193 and 194, both probably blank] xix24) thick paper (watermarks close to Briquet, I, no. 2407, “Balance à plateaux triangulaires suspendus par trois attaches”: Munich, 1474) written on 28-41 lines in dark brown bâtarde script with red rubrics by at least 2 different hands, some horizontal catchwords visible, red headings in the upper margins for the Sanctoral, with music on a four-line staff, COLORED WOODCUT inserted on f. 107v, 278 x 184 mm., painted in pink, red, brown, and gold. CONTEMPORARY MONASTIC BINDING of richly blind-tooled brown calf over wooden boards, upper cover decorated as follows: outer border with impressions of lozenge-shaped unicorns (of the type recorded by Kyriss in numerous Bavarian bindings, particularly Nurenburg, Regensburg and Bamberg), panel diapered by intersecting triple fillets, compartments filled with impressions of a lozenge-shaped eagle (of the type recorded by Kyriss in Bavaria; close to Schunke [1959], “Adler / 412-420”), with rosettes on the intersections; lower cover decorated as follows: outer border with alternating small rosette and impressions of a scroll containing “Maria,” panel diapered by intersecting triple fillets, compartments filled with alternating impressions of a lozenge-shaped mandorla with foliate motifs and rosettes (see Kyriss, rosette, tool no. 3), binding wormed, rubbed, lacking clasps and two metal bosses, spine and endpapers renewed, upper cover a little warped, traces of tabs (for comparisons see Kyriss [1953], no. 25, pl. 59, with exact same tools, attributed to Olmütz, Kartäuser, c. 1481). Dimensions 290 x 210 mm.

Conceived on the threshold of manuscript and print culture, this Missal of the very rare use of Olmütz was made for the important Cathedral of St.-Wenceslas in Olmütz. Written by hand, then revised a little more than a decade later for use in nearby Passau and simultaneously illustrated with a fine hand-colored woodcut Crucifixion also appearing in its more pristine black-and-white form in printed editions of the Prague Missal, the present Missal is presented in an attractive contemporary binding also from Olmütz.


1. Based on the text (identical with the Missale Olomuncense), watermarks (Munich, 1474), and binding (using the same tools as an Olmütz binding), this Missal was probably made for the Cathedral of St.-Wenceslas in Olmütz in c. 1475. Olmütz was the ecclesiastical metropolis of Moravia, c. 1475. Its most prominent foundation is the cathedral, built in the fourteenth century and restored c. 1883-86, which contains the tomb of King Wenceslas III, who was murdered there in 1306. The calendar is identical with the diocese of Olmütz (see Grotefend): Ludmilla martyr (September 16, with her translation on November 10), Procopius, Abbot of Prague (July 4); Adalbert, bishop of Prague (April 23); Wenceslas, king (September 28, with translation March 4, in red, in Breslau, Gnesen, Krakau, Olmütz, and Prague). Celebration of Stephen, King of Hungary, on August 21 is peculiar to Olmütz. These saints also appear in the Sanctoral. Other Prague saints are also included, Sigismund, Benedict and his brothers, Vitus, etc.

2. Almost immediately thereafter the manuscript was adapted to Danubian use, most likely in the diocese of Passau, because of the saints added in another hand in the calendar, as follow: Valentinus bishop of Passau (January 7, with translation August 4 only in Passau), Erhard, bishop of Regensburg(January 8 Passau, Regensburg, and Salzburg), Vigilius bishop of Trient, translation January 31; in Passau, Salzburg, and Trient); and Rupert bishop of Salzburg (translation September 24, Passau, Salzburg, and Regensburg, etc. Sts. Leopold of Austria (canonized 1484) and Wolfgang, bishop of Regensburg (especially Passau, Regensburg, Salzburg) added on ff. 207-08.


ff. 1-3v, Calendar, for the use of Olmütz, modified for the use of Passau (see above Provenance, 1 and 2);

ff. 4-101v, [Missale de tempore], Dominica in adventu domini; incipit, “Ad te levavi;

f. 102-109, [Canon of the Mass], incipit, “Te Igitur”;

ff. 110-128, [Missale de tempore], [First Sunday after the Feast of the Trinity], incipit, “Domine in tua misericordia”;

ff. 128v-187 [Missale de sanctis], incipit, “Incipit pars missalis de sanctis et primo in vigilia S. Andree sequitur introitus; [including] f. 137v, Translation of Wenceslas; f. 152, Procopius; f. 173v, Saint Venceslas; f. 174v, Suffrage to Saint Wenceslas; f. 179v, translation of Saint Ludmilla;

ff. 189v-205v [Votive Masses], incipit, “Incipiunt misse votive et primo de S. Spiritu”;

ff. 207-208v, [Epistles and Gospels, selected], incipit, “Incipiunt epistole et ewangelia feria II … VI; f. 207, De St. Helena; f. 207v, De S. Wolfgango … De S. Leopoldo … [added].

The calendar and text are identical to that in the Missale Olomuncense, Nurenberg, Georg Stuchs, 30 March 1499 (see Goff M-678; Weale-Bohatta, 689; and BnF, Catalogues des incunables, M-435, Rés. Vélins 230). The Olmütz Missal begins “Incipit liber missalis secundum ordinem ecclesiae Olomucensis dominica prima in advenu domini. Ad te levavi animam meam.”


f. 107v, Crucifixion woodcut laid down on paper (watermark not visible), with Mary and John on the left and right of the cross respectively, and three angels each catching the blood of Christ in chalices, one at the bottom and one under each arm, the sun and the moon in the upper margin, contemporary hand-coloring in watercolor washes of red, thick and shiny, yellow, green, and brown, a prayer to the Holy Cross written about the woodcut on the cross, which reads: “Deus qui sanctam crucem ascendisti et mundi tenebras illuminasti: tu corda et corpora nostra per virtutem sancte crucis illuminare, visitare, et et confortare dignare. Qui vivis....” Typically, this prayer accompanies the Hours of the Cross, thus offering an interesting connection between liturgical use and private devotion.

The woodcut is close to a woodcut Crucifixion that illustrates the Canon of the Mass in a Missal for the use of Prague published in Leipzig in 1498 (Missale emendatum juxta rubricam Pragensis ecclesia, Leipzig, C. Kachelofen, 24 July 1498; for the edition see Weale, p. 139; and for the woodcut, Heitz, pl. 21) and closer still, including the detail of the three angels with chalices, to one in an edition of the Prague Missal published in the same year in Nuremburg (Incipit missale intergrum … Archiepiscopatus Ecclesie Pragensis, Nuremburg, Georg Stuchs ex Sultzpach, 1498, reprinted in 1503 and 1508; see Weale, pp. 139-140, and Heitz, pl. 33). These comparisons raise the possibility that the woodcut was a later addition to the manuscript, c. 1498, when it was emended for use in the Danube region (Passau ?), since the date of the woodcut appears to be a decade or so later than the composition of the original manuscript.

Relatively few manuscripts preserve their original woodcut illustration at the moment when interactions between print culture and manuscript culture were frequent (see the useful studies by Areford and Hernad). The present exemplar therefore survives as an important document in the history of the book. Compare to a Prague Missal from approximately the same date, but smaller, more abbreviated textually (not really a full Missal), and with a dotted woodcut (London, Christie’s, 20 November 2002, lot 34, est. $32,000-47,000. (now Yale University, Beinecke Library).

The woodcut fits in a stylistic evolution of other Crucifixions from the same region, the faces, especially that of Saint John, typical of Austro-Bohemian style. The more elaborate conception, with the angels, the chalices, the setting of the cross, and the fine articulation of the figures, their faces and hands, show it to be a more advanced rendition of a composition that starts mid-century (see Heitz, 1910, for the sequence and variety of examples).


Alès, Anatole. Description des livres liturgiques imprimés aux XVe et XVIe siècles faisant partie de la bibliothèque de M. Charles-Louis de Bourbon, Paris, A. Hennuyer, 1878.

Areford, David. "In the Viewer's Hands: The Reception of the Printed Image in Late Medieval Europe, c. 1400 - c. 1500," PhD. Thesis, Northwestern University, 2002

Goldschmidt E. Ph. Gothic & Renaissance Bookbindings, Vol. I [Text] and Vol. II [Plates], London, E. Benn, 1928.

Heitz, Paul and William Schreiber. Christus am Kreuz, Kanonbilder der in Deutschland gedruckten Messbucher des funfzehnten Jahrhunderts, Stassburg, [1910].

Hernad, Beatrice. Graphik Sammlung des Humanisten Hartmann Schedel (exh. cat., Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek), Munich, Prestel-Verlag,1990.

Kyriss, Ernst. Verzierte Gotische Einbände im Alten Deutschen Sprachgebiet. I. Textband, Stuttgart, Max Hettler Verlag, 1951; II, Tafelband, 1954 and III, Tafelband,1958.

Landau, David and Peter Parshall. The Renaissance Print 1470-1550, London and New Haven, 1994.

Leroquais, Victor. Les Sacramentaires et les missels manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de France, Paris, Protat, 1924.

Schmidt–Kunsemüller, F.A. Corpus der Gotischen Lederschnitteinbande aus dem Deutschen Sprachgebeit, Stuttgart, A. Hiersemann, 1980.

Schunke, Ilse. Beitrage zur Inkunabelkunde…, Stuttgart, Akademie-Verlag, 1979.

Weale, J. Catalogus missalium ritus latini…, London, Quaritch, 1928.