Manuscript Hs. 334

Late medieval illustrated bible

The picture book Bible

With our digital edition of manuscript 334, it is now even easier for users to access a fascinating document from our manuscript collection.

Hs. 334, fol. 38r

A Bible manuscript published in the early 15th century in the Upper Rhine region, probably in a workshop in Strasbourg, is gaining a reputation and drawing attention to itself in many ways. It is an outstanding example of a book that retells the life of Jesus Christ almost exclusively through pictures; only a few inscriptions complement the series of images and make it easier to define the people and scenes. The manuscript begins with the public life of Jesus Christ and the appointment of the apostles and ends with the gathering of the apostles at Pentecost.

The images, which were drawn on paper with quick and powerful quill strokes and brush washes, with colour used only sparingly, create a narrative flow that vividly depicts the body language and emotions in the stories to tell and illustrate the Bible stories in a very memorable way. The images are the work of two painters who have a shared and recognisable artistic style. The Freiburger Bilderbibel (Freiburg Illustrated Bible) is also closely related to the style of what are known as “Volkshandschriften” (people’s manuscripts), which were typical of manuscript workshops, especially those in the Upper Rhine region in the Late Middle Ages. This manuscript production has been of particular interest to researchers for several decades now. But the historical origin of the Freiburger Bilderbibel and the way in which it has been handed down through generations, as well as its direct relationship with other (fragments of) illustrated bibles and their imagery are still debated today, with a particular focus on the manuscript fragments in the British Library, Add. MS 24679, in London and Pierpont Morgan Library, M 718-729, in New York.

The digital edition of Manuscript 334 at University Library Freiburg is not just a practical tool for a number of scientific questions and research approaches. It is now also an easily accessible resource and an excellent image-centric eyewitness to Late medieval piety for visual people and interested individuals.

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University of Freiburg