NK - (Article, long) 500-year-old family handbook
Bethor2000 at aol.com
Bethor2000 at aol.com
Wed Jan 6 10:36:00 PST 1999
A 500-year-old family handbook gets first U.S. showing
1.04 a.m. ET (605 GMT) January 4, 1999
By Carl Hartman, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) A unique family
manual for making love, war, sugar cookies and
other imperatives of life is getting its first U.S.
showing in Washington, illustrated with some of
Germany's finest art from 500 years ago.
The medieval version of a one-volume
encyclopedia seems to have been put together
for a castle in a mining area near the Rhine River
not far from Heidelberg. Suggested as the
craftsman of the detailed drawings and
engravings is an artist named Erhard Reuwich.
But that is little more than a guess, based on a picture of a Turk that
in the 1480s that looks a lot like one in the book. To be on the safe
identify the artist only as "the Housebook Master.''
"It was a time when artists worked in guilds, not as individuals,'' explained
Andrew Robison, in charge of prints at the National Gallery of Art. "They
known by their work, not by their names.''
The roughly bound book has been taken apart to make a facsimile edition of
copies, for sale at $1,980 each. One copy of this edition is on show,
pages from the original and other engravings believed to be by the same
The National Gallery has put together an exhibit with examples of objects
book depicts: a painted shield, half a suit of armor, an incense burner
and a handy
gadget called an aquamanile. Servants put it on the table for rinsing
fingers, at a
time when most Europeans ate with their hands and forks were a novelty.
Unlike some artists of the time, the Housebook Master combined a whimsical
sense of humor with a feeling for personality. In a picture of the Holy
Joseph hides behind a grassy bench and rolls apples around the front of it to
amuse the infant Jesus. The artist also spent hours on an intricately
engraving of a dog scratching itself.
The dog picture makes a bit of a mystery because it is done in dry-point, a
technique that allows only a few good copies to be made, unlike a normal
that can produce hundreds of prints fit for sale.
Crafted diagrams show ladders and other devices for scaling a castle wall.
clearly designed for the agile infantryman, it seems to be what today would
called "dual use'' equipment, because a tower window in the wall frames not a
soldier but a comely young woman. Other pages include cooking recipes, a
process for separating silver from copper ore,
the mixing of a laxative and a liquid to remove
stains from clothes.
Some of the book is built around astrology.
A page devoted to the planet Venus shows the
Greek goddess namesake on a horse coursing
through the heavens. Underneath, a young man
sits in a bath and a young woman is about to step
in, wearing little but a seductive smile. On the
opposite page a verse concludes:
"Beautiful bodies, parched by love's heat,
"My children find love's duties sweet.''
"Love and War: A Manual for Life in the Late
Middle Ages'' will be at the National Gallery of
Art until Jan. 31 and at the Frick Collection in
New York City from May 9 to July 25.
comments at foxnews.com
© 1998, News America Digital Publishing, Inc. d/b/a Fox News
More information about the Northkeep