Gisela of Kerzenbroeck, or, as she is also known, Gisela von Kerssenbrock, was a nun in the Cistercian convent of Marienbrunn, located in Rulle, a little village in the lower Saxony, near Osnabrück. She was one of the very few women who dedicated their life to writing and illustrating manuscripts.
Her most famous work is the Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbrock, or Codex Gisle, written around the XIV Century. In an inscription, also dated XIV Century, can be read: "The venerable and devout virgin Gisela von Kerssenbrock wrote, illuminated, notated, paginated and decorated in gold letters and beautiful images this extraordinary book in her own memory, in the year of the Lord 1300. May her soul rest in peace. Amen", leaving no doubt on the identity of the artist.
The book contains 53 historiated initials, depicting the life of Christ, from the visit of Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin to his Ascension to Heaven. This great number of images, very literal in their quotation of the Liturgy, makes this book one of the most decorated manuscript of its genre.
Among the numerous images painted by Gisela, the ones depicting Christmas and Easter also portray kneeling nuns, one of whom has been identified as Gisela herself, thus giving us a portrait of the artist. The fact that she is leading the others in their singing, led us to believe that she was the choir-mistress of her convent.
The beautiful style can be called an elegant courtly Gothic, thanks to the high quality of the miniatures: Gisela was truly one of the most gifted artists of the Middle Ages.
The book was used in the celebration of the Mass, giving us an idea of the feasts, celebrated with readings and songs, and the everyday communal life the nuns led, thus enriching our knowledge, previously limited to private devotion moments.
Blind-tooled leather, with metal fittings and two clasps.
We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Gradual of Gisela von Kerssenbrock": Der Codex Gisle facsimile edition, published by Quaternio Verlag Luzern, 2014