Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mira calligraphiae monumenta
Mira calligraphiae monumenta was produced in two periods, in Vienna: 1561-62 when Georg Bocskay made a Model Book of Calligraphy for Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and 1591-96 when Joris Hoefnagel illuminated the book upon request of Emperor Rudolf II.  Bocskay's calligraphy and Hoefnagel's painted miniatures together, meticulously done, are charming for a beguiling relaxed refinement. 

It's a long and sad story, but I used to own two mint first printings of the facsimile (Getty Publications, 1992).  It's among the finest facsimiles ever printed of illuminated manuscripts, with an elegant presentation.
The facsimile preserves the ingenious trompe l'oeil of the stem piercing the other side of some pages.  Above, an example of the trompe l'oeil.

The facsimile retailed for $150 USD, but it's no longer widely available, and a mint first printing copy if you can find one may set you back over $1K.  It may be just as hard to get nowadays as something like the Codex Seraphinianus (Abbeville, 1983).  But of course, it's a must have, one of the most beautiful books you can own.  Not the same but a good thing I suppose, parts of the Mira calligraphiae monumenta are available in affordable book forms, including one of Hoefnagel's embellished alphabets.