Owned by German noble women through at least three generations - a masterpiece of the German Renaissance

[Fürstenberg Book of Hours]. The prayer book of Anna Maria Countess of Fürstenberg, German manuscript on vellum, illuminated by an Augsburg Master.

Probably Augsburg, 1526.

Small 8vo (88 x 126 mm). 160 folios. German manuscript on vellum, Bastarda in black ink, rubricated in red, initials in red and blue. Leaves 82 x 118 mm, writtenspace ca 50 x 80 mm. With 11 miniatures by a master "KW" (probably a member of the workshop of Nikolaus Bertschi), 23 borders, and 14 decorative initials. Leather binding, ca 1860, covers stamped in gilt and blind, leading edges gilt, giltstamped spine title.


Splendidly illuminated prayer book owned by noble women for several generations; a masterpiece of the Augsburg school of early Renaissance book illustration, containing eleven full-page miniatures of uncommon quality. A fine example of a time of theological change in Southern Germany, the seven-part volume comprises Marian devotions as well as Oecolampadius's German mass ("zu Hayl allen Evangelischen"), liturgical prayers and specimens of the 'ars moriendi': "Die sibenn Zeytt von unser lieben Frauen" (2r), "Die anderthalb hundert Verß die der Herr Jhesus an dem Stam des heiligen Crutz gesprochen hatt" (87r), "Das Testament Jhesu Christi: das man byßher genent hat die Meß vertutscht durch Johannem Oecolampadion" (106r; printed in 1523: cf. Staehelin 85ff.), "Ein schöns Gebet wie der Mensch im selbs ein Testament und ein löblich Gemecht bey seiner Vermüglichait zwischen Gott und im machen soll, so stirbt er desto sicherer" (127r, with invocations of the Saints on 133v-134r, including St Uncumber), "Das Gebet soltu anheben zu sprechen wan d' Briester das Sanctus spricht" (147r), "Ain gutter Segen für aines yeden Menschen guten unnd getruwen gemahet zebitten" (149r), and "Ein offne Peicht und Protestation das ein Mensch cristenlich beger zu leben und zu sterben" (153r). From the beginning the prayer book was intended for a noble lady: a miniature on fol. 152v shows a portrait of the kneeling sponsor of the book with a banner "Exaudi queso [...] domine supplicum preces [...]", and another on fol. 126v shows two women kneeling in prayer before an epiphany of Christ, including the sponsor with the banner "Miserere deu[s] anime famuli tue et". The other miniatures show the Annunciation (1v), Nativity (35r), Annunciation to the Shepherds (42v), Adoration (47r), Circumcision (51r), Flight into Egypt (55r), Coronation of the Virgin (63v), and the Crucifixion (86v). The vivid and highly detailed, realistic borders show cherubs as well as hunting motifs: stags, deer, a leopard, hare, hedgehog, fox, weasel, dogs, birds (storks, geese, ducks, partridges, peacocks and numerous smaller fowl), butterflys and flowers of all kind, revealing the strong influence of contemporary Flemish book art, frequently encountered in the Augsburg art of the early 16th century, such as in the work of the Petrarch Master. The initials "KW" are on the deer's white hindquarters in the border of fol. 42r; the date is written on the door lintel in the Adoration miniature.

Provenance: the prayer book was passed on from mother to daughter throughout at least three generations, thus always remaining in the possession of noble women: Anna Maria countess Fürstenberg (1562-1611) married Christoph of Waldburg zu Trauchburg (1551-1612) in 1577; her ownership is written on fol. 86r: "Anna Maria Erbtruchsessin Freifrau Walpurg. G. G. zu Fürstenberg" (dated 1594). Her daughter Walburga Eusebia von Waldburg zu Trauchburg (1595-1671) entered her ownership on 17 April 1620, together with her husband Johann Wilhelm count Königsegg zu Aulendorf (d. 1663), on fol. 152r. In 1647 the book was then passed on to her daughter Maria Anna Eusebia Baroness Königsegg zu Aulendorf (1627-56), who in 1655 married Johann VI count Montfort (her autograph, dated ownership is at the bottom of the same page). In 1855 the volume was auctioned by Weigel in Leipzig ("Verzeichnis der Bibliotheken des Herrn Kränner in Regensburg", lot no. 25b); in 1890 it was in the library of the Prussian army physician Dr. Laeuterer (cf. his handwritten ownership on fol. 125v). In November 1975 it was offered for auction at Hartung & Karl's sale 14 in Munich (lot no. 9) but remained unsold. It was described in Ulrich Merkl's 1999 monograph on Bavarian book illustration during the first half of the 16th century, citing it as privately owned (pictured on p. 214).

Some traces of use, variously stained throughout with occasional slight abrasions (a few miniatures rubbed more strongly than others, but altogether very well preserved). Trimmed during re-binding in the 19th century, though preserving comparatively wide margins and only closely trimming a few borders near the upper edge. The binding in the Romantic style is very lightly rubbed at three extremeties.

U. Merkl, Buchmalerei in Bayern in der ersten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts. Spätblüte und Endzeit einer Gattung, Regensburg 1999, p. 298f. (no. 18). R. Cermann, in: Handschriftencensus. Eine Bestandsaufnahme der handschriftlichen Überlieferung deutschsprachiger Texte des Mittelalters, 23535.