Modena, Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, alfa.D.5.22

Apocalypsis Johannis Facsimile Edition

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Also known as the Estense Apocalypse, the Apocalypsis Johannis is a marvelous xylographic book, printed in brown ink around 1460 in the Dutch or Rhine region and considered unique due to its hand-colored images.

The enchanting imagery of the Apocalypse was always an inviting source of inspiration for predication, astrology and for artists such as Memling, Albrecht Dürer and the medieval illuminators of the Beatus of Liébana. However, the Apocalypsis Johannis stands out for being a rare example of incunabulum, a more affordable and popular alternative to publications obtained through typesetting.

An Apocalypse in Short Captions and Vivid Images

The Apocalypsis Johannis appears similar in style to the Bibliae Pauperum made in the German area in the same period, and not too distant from the teachings of the Flemish school of the early 1400s; at the same time it seems to project itself towards models and moments of religious life still in gestation. In many scenes the engraver-painter shows neither respect nor pity for the faults of the clergy, a kind of prelude to the reformed rebellions that were to shake the Germanic world and the whole of Europe.

The book consists of 48 sheets, 44 of which are divided into two scenes while 4 show single scenes. Each plate is defined by a line that serves as both a frame and a border separating the scenes. The images are printed and colored on the recto of the sheet while the verso is blank.

In the 19th century the plates were detached, trimmed and glued to 22 × 29 cm sheets. The order of the plates, for the first time in this kind of codex, respects the biblical text and so increases the originality of the work. The block-cut Latin writing, in medium-large letters, is arranged in scrolls or freely outlines the figures, blending together with them perfectly, almost anticipating modern comics.

Binding description

The worn out 1900s binding in half leather and cardboard has now been substituted by a calfskin binding

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Apocalypsis Johannis": Apocalypsis Johannis facsimile edition, published by Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte, 1999

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Printed book description compiled by the publisher.
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Apocalypsis Johannis

Modena: Il Bulino, edizioni d'arte, 1999

  • Commentary (Italian) by Milano, Ernesto
  • Limited Edition: 999 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Apocalypsis Johannis: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

The unabridged facsimile edition of the Estense Apocalypse was presented by Arturo Carlo Quintavalle at the Estense Library. The 96-page commentary volume is half leather bound. Facsimile, commentary, and certificate of authenticity are boxed together.



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approx US$ 1,628

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