Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sci-Art Pedigree

This striking set of hand-painted botanical and 
insect prints was produced by Johanna Helena 
Herolt, a lesser known member of the 17th c. 
German-Dutch Merian family of artists.

The Merian dynasty of artists really began in Switzerland with Johanna Helena Herolt's grandfather, Matthäus Merian the Elder (d. 1650), a renowned engraver and publisher who married into the equally talented de Bry family of Frankfurt artist-printers. Herolt's mother was only four years of age when her father died, but with encouragement from step-father artist, Jacob Moreel, Maria Sibylla Merian [link] pursued a highly successful career in Europe and South America as an artist-scientist. She married (and later divorced) German portraitist and still life artist, Johann Andreas Graff (d. 1701),

Maria Sibylla Merian produced ground-breaking depictions of insect life cycles with associated plants, and her two daughters (including Johanna Helena Herolt, née Graaf) were intimately involved in the design, engraving and colouring of her mother's book illustrations. Herolt's other principal claim to fame was her hand-colouring contributions to the exceptional series on Amsterdam's botanical gardens, the Commelins' 'Horti Medici Amstelodamensis' [link], 1697.

Flor Solis (Sonnenblume)
Flor Solis (Sonnenblume)

Vritilaria (Schachblume)
Vritilaria (Schachblume)

Een Bloem Pot (Eine Blumenvase)
Een Bloem Pot (Eine Blumenvase)

Inula Helenium (Echter Alant)
Inula Helenium (Echter Alant)


Shaert en wilde Violen (Stiefmütterchen und wilde Veilchen)
Shaert en wilde Violen (Stiefmütterchen und wilde Veilchen)

Plauwe Passions Ploem (Blaue Passionsblume)
Plauwe Passions Ploem (Blaue Passionsblume)

Nooten Twe Soort (Zwei Sorten Nüsse)
Nooten Twe Soort (Zwei Sorten Nüsse)

Pflaumen, blau, rot und gelb
Pflaumen, blau, rot und gelb

Vier Animonen (Vier Anemonen)
Vier Animonen (Vier Anemonen)

Een Bloem Pot (Eine Blumenvase) a
Een Bloem Pot (Eine Blumenvase)

Aerd Bessen (Erdbeeren)
Aerd Bessen (Erdbeeren)

Geele en Roode Roosen (Gelbe und rote Rosen)
Geele en Roode Roosen (Gelbe und rote Rosen)

"Johanna Helena Herolt, born in Frankfurt, Germany, was the eldest daughter of painter, draftsman, and engraver Johann Andreas Graff (1637-1701), and well-known insect and botanical painter and nature researcher Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717). Along with her sister, Dorothea Maria Graff (1678-1743), Johanna Helena learned to paint from her renowned mother and father. 
Dr. Sam Segal [..] writes:
“Johanna Helena Herolt is, or was until recently, an underestimated artist, who had been working closely with her famous mother. She assisted her already ill mother during her last years by finishing works, sometimes signed by both. Johanna married the merchant Jacob Hendrik Herolt from Bacharach (Germany) in 1692. She went to Surinam, with her husband, in 1711 where she did what her mother had done before: collecting and drawing flowers and insects. She died after 1723, possibly in Surinam.” "[source]

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Fiore dei Liberi

Fior di Battaglia = Flower of Battle = Flos Duellatorum,
a combat manual created in the first decade of 15th cent.
"Like people today, people of the medieval and Renaissance periods read how-to books. This manuscript by the greatest fencing-master of the late 1300s, Fiore Furlan dei Liberi da Premariacco, instructs the reader in the intricacies of combat. Lively illustrations of charging horses and armored knights accompany the text. Through words and pictures, the manuscript teaches a variety of fighting techniques including single combat on foot with sword, dagger, and ax[e], and also mounted combat in all its variations. Nicolò III d'Este, ruler of Ferrara, ordered at least three copies of this text, including this one. Nicolò's interest in such a manual was quite natural, since fighting played an important role in the education of young nobleman, and he himself was raising three sons." [link]
See the *combat* tag for a range of previous BibliOdyssey posts on swordsmanship, weaponry, munitions, war arts, defensive emplacements &c.

The parchment manuscript (~20.5 x 30cm) below features illustrations executed in tempera colours, gold leaf, silver leaf, and ink. This sample of manuscript images was chosen from among the 85+ leaves of the manuscript, and they have been variously cropped and lightly cleaned in the background at times.

Fiore dei Liberi - Ludwig XV 13, Fol. 32 (Aiming Points on the Body) a

Fiore dei Liberi: "As a young man I desired to learn armed fighting, including the art of fighting in the lists with spear, poleaxe, sword, dagger and unarmed grappling, on foot and on horseback, armored and unarmored. In addition I wanted to study how weapons were made, and the characteristics of each weapon for both offense and defense, particularly as they applied to mortal combat.
I also desired to learn the wondrous secrets of this art known only by very few men in this world. And these secrets will give you mastery of attack and defense, and make you invincible, for victory comes easily to a man who has the skill and mastery described above. 
I learned these skills from many German and Italian masters and their senior students, in many provinces and many cities, and at great personal cost and expense.
And by the grace of God I also acquired so much knowledge at the courts of noblemen, princes, dukes, marquises, counts, knights and squires, that increasingly I was myself asked to teach. My services were requested many times by noblemen, knights and their squires, who wanted me to teach them the art of armed combat both for fighting at the barrier and for mortal combat. And so I taught this art to many Italians and Germans and other noblemen who were obliged to fight at the barrier, as well as to numerous noblemen who did not actually compete. [..] 
It’s my opinion that in this art there are few men in the world who can really call themselves Masters, and it is my goal to be remembered as one of them. To that end I have created this book all about this martial art and the things related to it, including weapons, their applications, and other aspects too." {partial translation of Preface: source}

Unarmed Combat

Combat with Rondel and Dagger

Combat with Dagger

Combat with Dagger and Sword

Four Allegorical Figures

lines of Sword attack strikes

Combat with Sword

Combat with Pollaxe

Combat with Lance

Equestrian Combat with Lance

Equestrian Combat with Sword

Fiore dei Liberi - Ludwig XV 13, Fol. 47 (Two Horses) a

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Peking Opera Figures

Album of 100 Portraits of Personages from Chinese Opera

Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date: late 19th–early 20th century
Culture: China
Medium: Album of fifty leaves; ink, color, and gold on silk
Artist: Unidentified

Chinese Opera figure l

Chinese Opera figure b

Chinese Opera figure m

Chinese Opera figure i

Chinese Opera figure c

Chinese Opera figure h

Chinese Opera figure f

Chinese Opera figure

late 19th century watercolour sketch of member of Peking Opera company

Chinese Opera figure k

Chinese Opera figure d

Chinese Opera figure g

Chinese Opera figure e

Chinese Opera figure o

Chinese Opera figure n

Chinese Opera figure j

"In the opera boom of the late nineteenth century, albums were turned to a new purpose: documenting the variety and vibrancy of stage culture in all its multicolored splendor. This album records in detail the makeup and costume of one hundred characters drawn from nine plays. Each character is identified with an accompanying inscription, and the plays are named at the top right of nine of the leaves in slightly larger script."

Thursday, November 06, 2014


A Calligraphy Master's Album

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. a

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. c

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. f

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. i

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. k

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. b

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. j (cropped)

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. m

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. n

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. h

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. d

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent.

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. g

FJ Brechtel calligraphy 16th cent. l

'Werke der Schönschreibmeister' by FH Brechtel (1573) is available from Bamberg State Library in Germany.

The 24 page paper manuscript is dominated by Middle German blackletter scripts with extravagant embellishment, and a minority of the pages contain 'less' ornamental writing in Latin.

The manuscript appears to be a compilation of calligraphic examples by one of the originators of early fraktur^ scripts, Johann Neudörffer the Elder, to whom this album is dedicated. The manuscript's title - something like: The Beautiful Works of the Master Scribes - is also suggestive of Brechtel having assembled a set of Neudörffer's calligraphy output, rather than his presenting an adaptation or transformation from the originals. [Later: I'm informed the title is plural, meaning Master Scribes or similar; so we might presume the album script examples come from a variety of sources beyond simply Neudörffer']

Neudörffer was an important educator and he published text books in Nuremberg on writing which dominated teaching curriculums for a couple of centuries; and his calligraphy endeavours were similarly admired. Neudörffer is also honoured as the first biographical historian of German artists, though his 'Nachrichten' (1547) wasn't published until the 1800s. He was lucky enough to have counted Albrecht Dürer as a friend and neighbour!

There is not a lot of information about Franz Joachim Brechtel (that I can find) online. It would appear that his main claim to fame and employment stems from music sheets that he printed. I'm unsure whether he was the composer or simply the designer/publisher of the sheet music. In either case, his name is associated today with more than a hundred pieces of music that I - just - randomly found on the internet (so a role as composer seems more likely, though I didn't dig into it).

  • Neudörfer (or Neudörffer), Johannes (i.e., Johann), der Ältere at the Dictionary of Art Historians.
  • Brechtel at Musicalis.
  • 'Lied und Liederbuch in der Frühen Neuzeit' 2009 by A Classen and L Richter features some biographical commentary on Franz Brechtel - (snippets)
  • ADDIT: go see Thony's very interesting post at The Renaissance Mathematicus wherein he expounds greatly on the printing scene in Nuremberg in the 15th/16th centuries.
  • Thanks Jeanne!
  • Previously (specifically) on BibliOdyssey: Nuremberg Scribe features elaborate scripts produced by Stephan Brechtel - likely a brother of Franz - and there's a link in there to a post on the Brechtel family of calligraphers 
  • Previously on BiblOdyssey: the many posts under the tag of calligraphy.
  • The Schönschreibmeister post first appeared on the BibliOdyssey website.

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