Jörn Günther Rare Books at Frieze Masters

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 11.44.41 AM.pngDr. Jörn Günther Rare Books returns to Frieze Masters (6 - 9 October 2016) with an impressive collection of museum-quality Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, miniatures and early printed books. The gallery will occupy a prominent stand (E3) and its display will be increasingly modern, with technically enhanced vitrines.

The highlights comprise a selection of important illuminated manuscripts, including the elaborately illustrated Beauchamp-Corbet Hours, which was made in London in 1328. Nearly every page is decorated with a multitude of small miniatures and bas-de-page scenes.

Fantastical creatures and wild men are placed aside political, economic and secular motifs, a juxtaposition which shows the bridge between the spiritual and temporal worlds and offers a rare insight into life in 14th-century England.

The manuscript was discovered in 2003 and is apparently one of the only early 14th- century English books of hours still in private hands. Cornelia Funke, the celebrated German author of children’s fiction, was a previous owner and this Book of Hours inspired her acclaimed novel Ghost Knight. That such a rare survival from the past continues to inform contemporary creations exemplifies the stimulating nature of Frieze Masters.

Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books is bringing another noteworthy highlight to the fair: a miniature Book of Hours (1474) measuring 93 mm x 70 mm, with the majority of the illuminations painted at a minute 50 x 40 mm. This incredibly delicate prayer book was created for Francesco Borromeo and was the work of the accomplished artist Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis, a friend and collaborator of Leonardo da Vinci. We know that Ambrogio de Predis was this Book of Hours’ artist because we have the record of payment (11 May 1474) from the Milanese Borromeo family to Ambrogio de Predis for its creation. The artist was a master of the miniature; the illuminations here show the most delicate details in the smallest of surfaces, composed using a brilliant and attractive colour palette.

Another extremely rare manuscript is a Pontifical, or liturgical service book, produced in Bruges for Ferry de Clugny, Bishop of Tournai, who edited the text himself. It was presumably made around 1475-1476 when Ferry de Clugny was in Bruges on a diplomatic mission. Its provenance is illustrious - having been owned by both Pope Sixtus IV and Queen Cristina of Sweden. After centuries, the sheer beauty of this magnificent creation still fascinates today’s public.

The illuminations have been attributed to two of the best Flemish illuminators and their workshops: Loyset Liédet and Lievan van Lathem. Here, they have created one of the richest cycles of miniatures in any Flemish manuscript, complete with a splendid Flemish binding. The borders present enchanting details like birds, apes, saints and contemporary figures.

Image: Beauchamp-Corbet Hours, manuscript on vellum, illuminated by the Milemete workshop, mainly by the De Bois Master. England, London, dated 1328

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