A Knight's Tale

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Knight's Tale

knight in armour

2 knight images, each holding banners

knight with banner

2 images of knights

court scene - king, knights and jester

pious medieval maidens

reclining knight in armour

knight on pedestal

2 images of knights surrounded by grotesques

2 images of knights striking poses

2 images of posing knights

2 images of knights on grotesque platforms

two images of knights posing on platforms

2 images of camp-looking knights

Two knightly books from the National Library in Poland: The first half of the above illustrations are mid-19th century reprints of miniatures produced by the leading Polish artist of the Renaissance, Stanisław Samostrzelnik. They form a genealogical record of the noble family of Krzysztof Szydłowiecki (died 1532): 'Liber Geneseos Illustris Familiae Schidlovicie'.
[see: overview essay by Michael J. Mikoś about the Renaissance in Poland]

The second book is an important historical document in so far as it constitutes the first ever museum catalogue, and is arguably also the first arms collection to ever appear in print. Known as 'Armamentarium Heroicum', the book consists of 125 engravings by Dominicus Custos after drawings by Giovanni Battista Fontana in which the subjects are placed in highly embellished columnar alcoves festooned with grotesques, athletic putti, weapons, fruit and vines.

Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol was an avid collector of armour from famous military leaders and aristocracy which he installed in the Armoury of Heroes in Ambras Palace, near Innsbruck (in what is now Austria). The plates in the book each have facing biographical pages (worth seeing for the border decorations) by the Archduke's secretary, Jacob Schrenck von Notzing, but it's uncertain whether or not the illustrations show a true likeness to the original owners of the armour.

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