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les Enluminures

Unterschidliche Zusam getragene Gebetter (A Compilation of Various Prayers)

In German, illuminated manuscript on paper
Peterwardein [Petrovaradin, Serbia], dated 1770

TM 896

i (paper, backed with modern machine marbled paper) + 100 (200 pages) + ii (paper, ii, backed with modern marbled paper) folios on paper (several unidentified watermarks, initials “STW”; fleur-de-lis; standing man holding a sword), original pagination in red Arabic numerals in the top borders, [34]+ 1-164, beginning on p. 35 and leaving the last blank leaf unnumbered (pp. 1-34 foliated 1-17 in modern pencil), complete (collation 1-xii8 xiii4), no catchwords, signatures in red in the lower borders (beginning with quire three as “A,”; signatures in this quire are incorrect since they count p. 1, the second leaf, as the first in the quire), unruled (justification 68 x 62-59 mm.), written in a cursive (Alte Deutsche Schrift or Kurrent) German book hand in 14 to 13 long lines, red rubrics (some written sideways), gold initials, each page with green watercolor borders enclosing a scrolling green vine with red interlace ornament in the corners, inner dimensions 144 x 85 mm., enclosing a further frame of pen-and-ink calligraphic decoration of a crown with a flower vase (the vase in yellow red, and green watercolor) between two lions rampant on each standard text page, section titles are more elaborately embellished, and each month of the calendar features a different calligraphic figure or animal, excellent condition (very small tear bottom margin f. 1).  Bound in early twentieth-century parchment over pasteboard, front cover with an idiosyncratic design in white, silver, gold, red, blue, and gold sewn-on beads (a few now missing), perhaps meant to emulate 18th-century embroidered bindings, gilt edges, excellent condition apart from minor soiling.  Dimensions 176 x 115 mm.

It would be impossible to imagine a more charming and original re-interpretation of a medieval prayer book than this manuscript copied by a Franciscan in the Serbian town of Petrovaradin, then under Habsburg rule.  Colorful borders and flowers, gold ink, and calligraphic flourishes are found on every page.  This scribe, Narcissus Wallner, was particularly skillful in manipulating pen scrolls to form animals with delightful and whimsical results. The early (original?) owner was a woman, Elizabetha.              


1. Copied in Peterwardein (now Petrovaradin, Serbia) in 1770 by Narcissus Wallner, as detailed on the title page on f. 3, “… Geschriben in Peterwardein Anno 1770 Durch P. Narcissum Wallner. Peterwardein.”

The scribe, Narcissus Wallner, was the guardian (custos) of the Franciscan convent at Maria Radna (near Arad, in present-day Romania) from 1764 to 1766; he died in 1781, presumably at Maria Radna (Metz, Online Resources).  Maria Radna is a Franciscan foundation that dates back to the Middle Ages.  In 1681 it was rebuilt after the Turkish war, and in 1723 was enlarged and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  It was an important pilgrimage site then, and remains so today, attracting visitors from Hungary, Serbia, Romania, and elsewhere (Online Resources).  Maria Radna is about 120 miles northeast of Petrovaradin.

2. Belonged to a woman, Elizabetha [G?]allachinu or [G?]allachini, whose name is written on the back fly leaf (we thank Professor Stephen Mossman for his assistance with reading this name and other texts within the manuscript).  Did in fact Narcissus Wallner copy these prayers as a gift for someone, perhaps even this Elizabetha?  It seems possible, and certainly the decorative nature of this volume of serious prayers would have made it an attractive gift for a woman.  This possibility, although speculative, may be supported by the charming little bust-length picture of a woman in a green hat at the beginning of the book.


[f. 1rv, blank]; f. 2, decorated frontispiece, text: “Bittet so werdet ihr emfangen. Joan. 16” [John 16:24, conflated with Mt. 21:22, Ask and you shall receive]; [f. 2v, blank apart from border];

f. 3, decorated title page, “Unterschidliche Zusam getragene Gebetter Geschriben in Peterwardein anno 1770 durch P. Narcissum Wallner” (A Compilation of Various Prayers written in Peterwardein in 1770 by P. Narcissus Wallner); [f. 3v, blank apart from border];

ff. 4-5, Decorated title page (with calendrical notes); f. 4v, dates of Lent and Easter, 1770-1785; f. 5, dates of Pentecost and Advent, 1770-1785;

ff. 5v-17, Liturgical calendar with major feasts in red;

f. 17v, pp.1-23, [Morning and evening prayers], f. 17v, title page, “Des Abends, Morgens und Mittags will ich vorbringen und er wird mich erhören. Psal. 54.18 [55:17]”; f. 18, pp. 1-11, morning prayers; pp. 12-23, evening prayer, beginning with a litany of saints;

pp. 24-49, [Mass prayers], p. 24, title page, Meess Gebetter, with a quotation from St. Gregory; ff. prayers to be said during Mass, all in German (including p. 29, Züm Offertorio, p. 32, Züm Sanctus, p. 34, Vor der aufwandlung, p. 35, Zur aufhebung der heil hostien, …, p. 39, Wan der Priester die Creützlein mit der heil hostein macht, …, p. 43, Zür geistlicher Communion, …, p. 46, Zü dem Seegen des Priesters, …;

pp. 50-68, Prayers for confession and penance; on pp. 60-61, quotations from the parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal son, introducing the confession of sins;

pp. 69-94, Prayers for Communion, including a Litany beginning on p. 86;

pp. 94-111, A litany and other prayers, including a prayer to Christ for a good death (p. 102);

pp. 112-131, Prayers to saints, including daily prayers to John the Baptist, Joseph, Anthony of Padua, a prayer to St. Anthony for the finding of lost things, and a litany;

pp. 132-157, Litany of the Virgin Mary, followed by prayers including prayers for the dead;

pp. 158-162, Index (with references to page numbers); [pp. 163-164, without text, but with the usual borders].


All the text pages are uniformly decorated with outer borders of double green frames with meandering green vines in watercolor and inner calligraphic pen and ink borders that include at the top a pair of lions rampant with a vase of flowers in green, yellow, and red watercolor between them, and a crown above them.

The calendar and section titles use this basic design, but with embellishments, including in many cases biblical citations, as well as additional calligraphic motifs, including figural elements, and water color flowers, vases, and so forth:

f. 2, Decorated frontispiece, including a calligraphic border with four birds at the top (two holding colored flowers), and two figures holding globes at the  bottom, framing a woman in a green hat, bust length, and a lamb, both in color;

f. 3, Title page with calligraphic scrolls (men in hats);

f. 4, f. 17v, and p. 12, Calligraphic pen work interspersed with realistic flowers and floral arrangements in color;

pp. 24-25, Double page opening with splendid pen work peacocks, leaning over an altar (painted), crowned in gold on p. 24, and a stork and angel among the calligraphic designs on the facing page, which also includes four flower vases in watercolor;

pp. 50-51, Double page opening, with an elaborate pen scroll decoration interspersed with watercolor flower arrangements;

pp. 60-61, Double page opening, with a calligraphic design of Christ as the good shepherd and numerous birds;

pp. 68-69, Double page opening with calligraphic designs interspersed with flowers in color and a gold chalice;

pp. 76-77, Double page opening with calligraphic designs of faces in profile and a gold Communion wafer;

pp. 112-113, and pp. 132-133, Double-page openings with calligraphic designs interspersed with flowers in color;

p. 158, Calligraphic border and flowers in color.

Each month of the calendar is illustrated with a different calligraphic figure.  January shows a kneeling hunter shooting his gun, February his racing hound, March a hare, and April a stag; May breaks the series with a peacock, June follows with  a heron, July with an unidentifiable quadruped, possibly a cat, August shows a unicorn, September a stork, October a rooster, November a horse, and December an owl.

Pages at the ends of some sections have added motifs to fill space:  p. 111, a bird holding a flower in its beak; p. 59, a swan; p. 131, a vase of flowers in color; p. 157, two facing birds holding flowers.

Although Narcissus Wallner must have been an amateur scribe, and not a professional writing master, his work in this manuscript shows that he was well-trained and aware of the work of German writing masters.  The Schreibmeisterbuch by the calligrapher and schoolmaster Hieronymus Tochtermann (1683-1755) of Augsburg for example (Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek, 4 Cod Aug 272; Online Resources), has similar pen scrolls, animals, and very similar watercolor vases (or planters) of flowers.  Wallner’s text script is a good but not exceptionally disciplined example of the type of formal cursive script known today as Alte Deutsche Schrift or Kurrent.  His real skill, and evident love, was for decoration done with the pen.  His manuscript is full of gorgeous pen scrolls, and his animals and other figurative designs, all done with pen work, are exceptional. 

Manuscripts such as this one made by eighteenth-century calligraphers are understudied.  They follow in a long tradition of copybooks and writing manuals in both manuscript and print published by professional writing masters.  The two earliest printed examples are Italian, La Operina (1522) by Ludovico degli Arrighi, who was employed in the Papal chancery, and Giovanni Antonio Tagliente, Lo presente libro … (1524). Tagliente taught handwriting in the Venetian chancery.  Ein gute Ordnung vnd kurtze Vunterricht, … by Johann Neudörffer the Elder (1497-1563), published in Nuremberg in 1538 stands at the beginning of a long tradition of German copy-books.

It was followed by that of Wolfgang Fugger, a printer in Nuremberg, who published an important handwriting manual in 1553; the son of Johann, Antonius Neudörffer in 1598; then Houthusius (Aachen, 1591), Roelands (Vlissingen, 1616), Grahl (Dresden, 1670), along with many Dutch writing masters including Van den Velde, Strick, and others.


Becker, David. The Practice of Letters. The Hofer Collection of Writing Manuals 1514-1800 (exhibition catalogue), Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997.

Bonacini, C. Bibliografia delle arti scrittorie e della calligrafia, Bibliotheca bibliograpfica italica, 5, Florence, 1953.

Doede, Werner. Bibliographie deutscher Schreibmeisterbücher von Neudörffer bis 1800, Hamburg, 1958.

Doede, Werner.  Schön schreiben, eine Kunst: Johann Neudörffer und die Kalligraphie des Barock, Munich, 1988.

Roethlisberger, M. G. “Der Augsburger Kalligraph Hieronymus Tochtermann,” Librarium, Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Bibliophilen-Gesellschaft 46 (2003), pp. 2-24.

Sprenger, Kai-Michael.  Zug um Zug: die Schreibmeister und ihre Kunst vom 16. bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, Mainz, Gutenberg-Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 1998

Whalley, Joyce Irene. The Student’s Guide to Western Calligraphy. An Illustrated Survey, Boulder, Colorado and London, 1984.

Whalley, Joyce Irene and Vera C. Kaden. The Universal Penman ... Catalogue of an exhibition, held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980.

Online Resources

Maria Radna, short history

Franz Metz, “Ein „wunderthätiger Waldschatten.”  Mehr als 300 Jahre Wallfahrtsort Maria-Radna

Hieronymus Tochtermann, Schreibmeisterbuch; Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek, 4 Cod Aug 272, Augsburg 1731-1733:

Hieronymus Tochtermann, Vorschrifft, Teutsch, lateinisch und französischer Schrifften, Augsburg, 1729, Augsburg, UB, Sign. 220/Cod.20

Hieronymus Tochtermann, [Specimens of illumnation and Calligraphy], 1754, p. 12, George Arthur Plimpton Manuscripts 093 1754

TM 896