Cuir-ciselé-Binding by the Kremsmünsterer Meister
17 I. Thomas de Chobham, Summa de poenitentia, dat. 1422
Manuscript on paper. Austria, Seitenstetten (?), c. 1422.
II. Stephan Palecz, Utilia contra errantes
III. Johannes Andreae, Processus iudicalis – et al.
297 x 219 mm. 154 leaves, complete: I-XIII12, XIV10, XV12.Watermarks: I. Unicorn (similar to Picard II, 1178, recorded in Bologna 1410) and Dreiberg (three-pointed mountain (Briquet 11689, used in northern Italy 1411-1421); II. Dreiberg (as in part I.); III-IV. Bull’s head (similar to Picard VI, 273, used in northern Italy 1416-1417). – Written space 192-209 x 140 mm, in two columns of 37-40 lines. Each part written by a different scribe in brown (I) resp. black ink (II, III), incipits and chapter headings of parts I and II in red, capitals touched in red; red Lombards (in I also blue and green; two of them with Maiblumen-decoration); catchwords in I. – Worming in the inner margins of fol. 2-14, some wormholes in the last quire, minor staining, paper and writing in excellent condition. – Dark red calf-leather over wooden boards: cuir-ciselé and blind stamping. Front cover with double frame, inner frame with small rosace stamps. Central panel depicting King David seated, with crown and harp. Back cover with identical division, inner frame with small quatrefoil-stamps. Central panel with grotesque lion, whose design overlaps with frame. Background of both motifs stamped with multi-point tools (of 4 x 6 points). Originally two clasps and five metal bosses on each cover whose fixing points (holes) are still visible. Some wormholes. In a brown linen box with supralibros of John Roland Abbey.
PROVENANCE: 1. Benedictine monastery Seitenstetten, Austria: codex CXV. 2. Ernst Kyriss (1881-1974). 3. Karl & Faber, sale 31, 1949, lot 37 with fig. 4. John Roland Abbey: his exlibris inside of back cover with shelf-mark and date of acquisition (1949). In 1961 still in his possession. 5. Purchased by H.P. Kraus prior to the Abbey-Sales (Sotheby’s 1965-78). In 1963 sold to 6. Collection Otto Schäfer, Schweinfurt, OS 337.
TEXT: fol. 1: (I) Capitula In subiectum opus quis sit poenitenia... – fol. 3v: Incipit Summa magistri Thomae de aquino prologus – fol. 135: Explicit Summa magistri Thomae de aquino Sub anno ab incarnationis domini Millesimo quadracentesimo vicesimo secundo (=1422) – fol. 135v: (II) Utilia contra nunc errantes in Ecclesia sancta... – fol. 146: Expliciunt arma optima contra Wykleffitas nunc ecclesiam die Inpugnantes – fol. 146v: (III) Processus iudicialis brevis et utilis... – fol. 151v-152: blank – fol. 152v: (IV) In tertio libro Decretalium - fol. 153v-154: blank. I. Thomas de Chobham (died between 1233 and 1236) was Magister theologiae in Paris and Salisbury. He wrote several pastoral treatises influenced by Petrus Cantor. His Summa de poenitentia (also known as Summa confessorum) written c. 1213 was often, as is the case here, regarded as a work by Thomas Aquinas. The text was widely known and survives in about 100 manuscripts. Interestingly, it also addresses the other six sacraments and the secular classes of society such as judges and merchants. II. Stephan Palecz (c. 1360/1370- 1422 or 1423) taught at Prague University and was a companion of John Hus. He later became one of his severest critics and played a decisive part in his sentencing at the council of Constance between 1414 and 1417. Palecz is regarded as author of several philosophical writings, most of them polemical in nature, partly connected with his teaching at university, partly displaying his reforming and later anti-Hussite views. The Utilia contra nunc errantes stresses his opposition to Wycliffe’s ideas. III. Short text by the scholar of canon law, Johannes Andreae (c. 1270-1348). His works are based on numerous sources and are therefore of great importance even today for Catholic canon law and for European legal culture in general. Part IV, a postscript written in a hurried hand, possibly refers to the provincial council in Mainz in 1423 (“Ex concilio Moguntino”). The watermarks and the ruling of all four parts by one hand indicate that this compilation was completed shortly after 1422, the date given in the explicit of part I.
BINDING: In the cuir-ciselé technique the outlines of a design are cut into dampened leather.The delineated forms are stamped on the reverse and the motif is thus embossed from behind.This technique was used in book-binding as early as the 7th century; it was revived in the 13th century for items of practical use, such as cases. In book binding, cuir-ciselé reached its artistic climax during the 14th and 15th centuries and some 370 Gothic cuir-ciselé-bindings from the Germanspeaking regions are known to have survived. Among these stylistically diverse bindings there is a group of 18 whose front and/or rear covers portray animals and fabulous beasts in profile, such as lions, unicorns, stags and dogs. This gave rise to the designation “Master of the grotesque creatures”. This anonymous artist is also known as “Travelling Master of Kremsmünster” after the area of distribution of the surviving bindings. He seems to have worked for several monasteries in Upper and Lower Austria between 1420 and 1445. Six bindings have survived in the Benedictine monastery of Kremsmünster alone. The volume at hand is decorated with a single beast, a lion, on its rear cover. Energetic in conception and integrated within a simple frame, it displays the characteristic style of the master, as defined by Schmidt-Künsemüller. The front cover shows King David with his crown and harp. The stippled decoration of the central panels, done with a multipoint tool, is noteworthy, as are the ways in which parts of the decoration overlap the frame.
LITERATURE: Husung 1933, p. 73f. (with reproductions); Holter 1961, p. 98f; Holter 1962, p. 469; Schmidt- Künsemüller 1980, No. 296;Arnim 1984, No. 374. Text edition:Thomas de Chobham, Summa confessorum, ed. by Frederick Broomfield. Analecta namurcensia, 25. Louvain and Paris, 1968.