Hybrid Prayer Book (MS M.1218)


Dürer’s picture books had a profound impact on the form and content of deluxe prayer books. Entire sets of his prints were often recombined with handwritten prayers to create new hybrid manuscripts, a phenomenon particularly associated with the sixteenth century. Comprising, at its core, seventeen prints from Dürer’s Engraved Passion (1507–13), this manuscript was written and illuminated by the imperial scribe, artist, and notary Hieronymus Oertel, who ran a workshop creating such books for Nuremberg’s wealthy burghers. Each of the hand-colored engravings is accompanied by a corresponding prayer in German. The elaborate gilt borders framing each page, carefully placed over the edges of the engravings, mask the transition from print to parchment.

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Prayer Book, in German
Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and Hieronymus Oertel (1543–1614)
Germany, Nuremberg, 1507–13 and ca. 1580–1600
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.1218
Purchased on a grant provided by the Bernard H. Breslauer Foundation, with the Harper and Seligman Funds, and as the gift of Virginia M. Schirrmeister and a second, anonymous, member of the Visiting Committee to the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in memory of Melvin R. Seiden, 2020