VIENNA: IMPERIAL RIVALRY AND HABSBURG AMBITION
More than sixty manuscripts attest to the prolific career of the Master of the Maximilian Schoolbooks, who worked for a range of elite clients, including the University of Vienna and the court of Emperor Frederick III (1415–1493). The artist is named after a group of illuminated schoolbooks commissioned for the emperor’s son Maximilian I (1459–1519). While many of the book’s paintings have been removed and sold, it retains a miniature of Christ Carrying the Cross. The city gate frames the Virgin, at whose feet Simon of Cyrene bends to assist Christ with his burden. One of the soldiers turns back to push the Crown of Thorns onto Christ’s brow. In an excised miniature depicting the Nailing of Christ to the Cross, Christ looks down toward the skull marking the site as Golgotha (literally, “the place of the skull”). According to legend, the skull belonged to Adam; his son Seth planted a seed in the skull’s mouth that grew into the tree from which the cross was hewn.