The court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II produced nothing more amazing than the Mira calligraphiae monumenta, a flamboyant demonstration of two arts-calligraphy and miniature painting. The project began when Rudolf's predecessor commissioned the master calligrapher Georg Bocskay to create a model book of calligraphy. A preeminent scribe, Bocskay assembled a vast selection of contemporary and historic scripts. Many were intended not for practical use but for virtuosic display. Years later, at Rudolf's behest, court artist Joris Hoefnagel filled the spaces on each manuscript page with images of fruit, flowers, insects, and other natural minutiae. The combination of word and image is rare and, on its tiny scale, constitutes one of the marvels of the Central European Renaissance.
The manuscript is now in the collections of the Getty Museum. Forty-eight of its pages are reproduced in this book, containing samples of classic italic hands; historical, invented, and exhibition hands; Rotunda, a classicizing humanist script based on Carolingian miniscule; classically based scripts; and Gothic blackletter and chancery.
Lee Hendrix is curator of drawings at the Getty Museum. Thea Vignau-Wilberg is curator of Netherlandish drawings at the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich, Germany.
For sale in North America only.