Of Wondrous Occurrences

Franz von Retz: Defensorium inviolable virginitatis Mariae

This delicate German manuscript from Dublin, a marvellous picture book of Defensorium inviolable virginitatis Mariae makes the impossible possible and also credible for the contemporary reader. Thirty-seven leaves are decorated with delicate full-page miniatures on the recto, complete with short verses of an emblematic nature in German and Latin on the verso.

Theses gold-heightened visual gems of illumination are juxtaposed with explanatory texts of a 15th century Dominican pater. The author the text, a Dominican monk in Vienna named Franz von Retz (1343-1427), created a particular form of late medieval typology and emblemology, which due to its vividness could only be transposed and explained in painting.

Seventy-four pages of late medieval imagination in commented images

It is actually quite amazing that even experts of the medieval mind discover every-new ideas and thoughts in this book. Wonders of antiquity, conceptions taken from the Bible or the Apocryphal writings, and selected ideas of Albertus Magnum or Isadore of Seville are all woven into a Marion vision of the world, which in this book is aimed only at one thing: proving the virginity of the mother of God. The entire book is based on simple, but frequently also enigmatic thoughts.

The Facsimile Edition

Faithful facsimile edition of the manuscript ms 32,513 now kept in the Irish National Library, Dublin. 38+2 leaves in format 100 x 78 mm. 37 miniature pages with gold leaf decoration. Like the original book the facsimile is bound in green velvet with golden embroidery.

Comentary volume authored by Prof. Eberhard König and Dr. Ines Dickmann Both volumes in a red leather case embossed with gold. Facsimile edition limited to 800 numbered copies.

The illustration of the inconceivable

Glittering golden decoration frames the beautiful, almost romantic pictures of a hitherto anonymous 15th century German artist, images created to prove the existence of inconceivable thing: birds that grow on trees; water that a virgin can carry in a sieve; as well as other, better known myths like the phoenix rising from the ashes; Circe turning humans into animals; or the lion who brings his cubs to life with a roar. All that just to prove the Mary’s virginity is part of a series of unbelievable but true occurrences.