Sub-project: Switzerland’s illuminated treasures
March 2020 - November 2020
Status: In progress
Description: The exhibitions celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the e-codices project, the Swiss platform for the digitisation of manuscripts. In this connection, both collections are showing highlights from their own holdings as well as a large number of valuable loans from other libraries participating in the e-codices programme.
All Libraries and Collections
This ethical work by Boccaccio, originally written between 1353 and 1356 and expanded in 1373, addresses the subject of the unevenness of fate. Manuscript copies of the work were frequently made; it was issued in print and translated into many languages. It enjoyed great popularity in Europe. The French translation by Laurent de Premierfait for Jean de Berry was equally popular, as evidenced by the 68 manuscript copies of this text still in existence. Unlike the Latin version, the French manuscripts display a rich iconographic accompaniment, most likely produced by Laurent de Premierfait himself. This is also the case with CB 174, which was produced during the 15th century in France. Each book opens with a small illustration (150 in all) portraying the “pitfalls” described in the text that follows.
Online Since: 03/22/2012
The 13 large illustrations in this French manuscript, written in the 15th century, were produced by one of the most important book decorators of the late middle ages : Jean Fouquet (BnF, ms. fr. 247). They are richly decorated with gold and cover two thirds of a page; a large number of initials adorned with flowers round out the illustrator’s iconographic program. The first page, which is missing, also certainly held a decorative illustration (Adam and Eve?). At the beginning of a prolog is a small miniature portraying the author writing the book. The Antiquitates iudaicae recounts the history of the Jewish nation from Genesis to the year 66 according to the modern western calendar.
Online Since: 03/22/2012
This manuscript contains the Dragmaticon, a work by the scholar Wilhelm de Conches, a member of the School of Chartres. It is possible that the codex was produced in about 1230 in the area of Cologne in a scholastic circle and that it is among the oldest surviving texts of the Dragmaticon, which is transmitted in a total of about 70 medieval manuscripts. The portable format, assorted schemata and tables provided, and the script used (Gothic cursive) indicate that the manuscript was intended for university use. The first section of the manuscript contains a computus for determining when movable feast days should fall.
Online Since: 05/20/2009
A copy of the four Gospels with commentaries by Jerome, produced in the Abbey of St. Gall during the 10th century (before 950).
Online Since: 07/31/2009
Commentary on the first eight epistles of Paul. This is a copy of a (lost) exemplar which, according to tradition, was written before 945 by Abbot Thietland († around 964). The text depends to a great degree upon the Pauline commentary of Bishop Atto of Vercelli (885-961).
Online Since: 12/20/2012
This manuscript consists of two parts, bound together for the first time during the 14th century in Einsiedeln and annotated by Heinrich von Ligerz. The first part (1-137), which contains three works by Priscian and one by Rufinus, was probably produced during the 9th/10th centuries in Switzerland or Germany. The second part (139-318) contains works by Isidore and is in part a palimpsest. It was written during the 8th/9th centuries in northern Italy or Switzerland, probably in the same scriptorium as Cod. Sang. 908.
Online Since: 12/19/2011
Boethius (c. 476-c. 525), one of the earliest scholars of late antiquity and most influential of thinkers, in logic as well as in philosphy and theology, is the author of the works reproduced in this codex, De arithmetica et geometria and De musica. Both works were recognized during the middle ages as foundation works of the quadrivium. The manuscript was produced in Einsiedeln in the 10th century.
Online Since: 12/21/2009
This third volume of the three-part Engelberg Bible contains the New Testament. The codex originally consisted of 204 folios. On one of the leaves that have been cut out, now cataloged as D 126 at the Stiftsarchiv Engelberg, a five-line verse identifies the scribe as Richene, who also completed the volumes containing the Old Testament (Cod. 3 and Cod. 4). Abbot Frowin (1143-1178) and his scribe Richene are also shown in a full-page illustration on 1r. Also portrayed at full-page size are the Evangelists with their attributes, each labeled with a descriptive verse (108v, 134v, 153v, 181r). On 103r through 105v are canonical tables. The manuscript contains some incomplete initials, spaces reserved for decorations, and completely empty pages.
Online Since: 06/09/2011
This small-format codex contains Cicero's rhetorical work De inventione. The text, mostly in dark-, sometimes light-brown ink comes from multiple hands, which all have their own careful and consistent appearance. Except for some simple decorated initials, slightly larger at the beginning of the prologue and of both books, and the occasional red-ink accentuated capitals and text-beginnings, there is no book decoration whatsoever. A later inscription on 1r indicates that this is probably a volume from the milieu of Abbot Frowin of Engelberg (1143-1178).
Online Since: 10/04/2011
Paper manuscript with colored pen sketches from 1396. The Passion tract follows the Vita Christi by Ludolf von Sachsen (of which it is the first German version), the liturgical tract follows Marquard von Lindau. Produced by Nicholaus Schulmeister, clerk of Lucerne from 1368 to 1402, for Lucerne patrician widow Margaretha von Waltersberg. After her death the codex was to be inherited by the nuns. It remained in their possession until 1887 and since then has been held in the library of Engelberg Abbey.
Online Since: 11/04/2010
An Engelberg copy of the historical work Historiarum adversum paganos libri VII by the ecclesiastical author Orosius. The Engelberg exemplar was commissioned under Abbot Frowin (1143-1178). It contains, among other items, noteworthy initials in the Engelberg book decoration style of the time and a large number of glosses. The manuscript is a meticulous copy from the St. Gall exemplar, Cod. 621 (9th century). This Engelberg manuscript later served as the master text for yet another copy, Cod. 60 of the Schaffhausen City Library (Schaffhauser Stadtbibliothek).
Online Since: 07/31/2007
This Cistercian missal, produced around 1300, “represents an already advanced phase in the development of this type of liturgical book: the chants of the gradual are completely integrated into the sacramentary, and are no longer accompanied by musical notes; moreover, they are written in a smaller script. In this form, the missal could have served the celebrant for both the conventual mass and for the private mass that Cistercians are known to have held since their origins. The geographical origin of the codex has not been determined with certainty. Without doubt, however, from the fifteenth century onward it was at Hauterive, where it was re-bound. The rich decoration in the canon section provide a fine example of fleuronné initials from the end of the thirteenth century; here, the decoration of the scrolls seems to be still “domesticated” by rigorous framing.” (Joseph Leisibach, Liturgica Friburgensia. Des Livres pour Dieu, 1993, p. 89).
Online Since: 03/31/2011
At the request of Jean II of France, between 1354 and 1356, the Dominican Pierre Bersuire (Petrus Berchorius) undertook this translation of the three decades (I, II and IV) of Ab Urbe condita by Titus Livius that were known at the time. This history of Rome extends from the founding of the city to the war between the Romans and the Celtiberians. The exemplar held by the Bibliothèque de Genève was produced at the beginning of the 15th century and carries the Ex libris of the Duke of Berry. Paintings are by the "Maître des Cleres femmes" of the Duke of Berry and by artists working in the style of the "Maître du duc de Bedford".
Online Since: 12/21/2010
The Florentine writer and notary Brunetto Latini went into exile in 1260, after the Guelphs lost the Battle of Montaperti. Until 1266 he took up residence in France, where he wrote the Trésor, an encyclopedia written in French that was widely used until the end of the 15th century. The illuminator of the Bibliothèque de Genève’s copy of the manuscript is known as the "Master of the Geneva Latini" or as the "Maître de l'échevinage de Rouen.” Originally decorated with four frontispieces, the manuscript today has only two, one of which is a famous representation of a medieval urban market.
Online Since: 09/23/2014
The Ovide moralisé is a poem consisting of 72,000 octosyllables. Between the end of the 13th century and the first quarter of the 14th century, the anonymous author translated the 15 books of Ovid’s Metamorphoses by appropriating the ancient myths for the purposes of Christian edification. This Genevan exemplar, dated to the end of the 14th century, was illuminated by two artists, the Maître du Rational des divins offices and the Maître du Roman de la Rose.
Online Since: 06/23/2014
The Roman de la Rose is a poetic work of approximately 22,000 octosyllabic verses. The first part of this allegorial romance (over 4,000 verses) was written by Guillaume de Lorris in about 1230, and it was completed by Jean de Meun some forty years later. Although the work was originally conceived as a courtly tale, the second part disgresses on a wide variety of themes and expressly criticizes the myth of the rose according to Guillaume de Lorris. The Testament is a poem consisting of 544 four-line alexandrine monorhyme stanzas expounding the spiritual development of Jean de Meun.
Online Since: 06/22/2010
Christine de Pisan, a writer and poet of great renoun, was the author of numerous works and was personally involved in the design and production of manuscripts of her works. This hold true for this codex, which contains an account of the building of a utopian city by and for women.
Online Since: 12/09/2008
Tristan in Prose is a 13th century prose romance of which a multitude of copies were made over the course of the medieval period. This work of knightly character is strongly influenced by the Lancelot en prose, which was written at the end of the first quarter of the 13th century. In this collection, which refer to the myths of Tristan and Arthur, Tristan is portrayed as the perfect lover and as the perfect knight, who as a Knight of the Round Table participates in the search for the Holy Grail. The Geneva manuscript is incomplete. It ends with the jousting competition between King Arthur and Tristan, in which the latter unseats the King and Yvain from their saddles. The defeated pair then returns to Roche Dure (Volume 3 of the Philippe Menard edition, 1991). At this time there are 82 known manuscripts and manuscript fragments of this work.
Online Since: 03/22/2012
Laurent de Premierfait translated De casibus virorum illustrium by Giovanni Boccaccio into French in about 1400. The work described the tragic fates of illustrious personages, mostly figures from antiquity. The translator presented a second version to the Duke of Berry in 1409, after expanding it with notes based on extracts from Latin historians. The Geneva exemplar, which carries the Ex libris of the bibliophile duke, transmits the second version. It is richly decorated with historiated vignettes, attributable mainly to the "Maître de Luçon".
Online Since: 12/21/2010
This epistolary, produced in the cloister of St. Gall, was used for readings during the mass. The script is Carolingian minuscule and the initials are decorated with gold, silver, and minium. This manuscript may have been written and illuminated by Sintram at the beginning of the 10th century. The original binding was made of ivory. The manuscript apparently left St. Gall at the end of the 18th century, after being offered for sale. It only appeared again in the 1860s, when the heirs of Geneva physician Jean-Jaques de Roches-Lombard presented it to the Bibliothèque de Genève.
Online Since: 12/09/2008