The Visual World of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary

ISBN: 
978-963-7326-25-7
cloth
$115.00 / €100.00 / £77.00
Publication date: 
2016
350 pages, 142 color illustrations

Dispersed in two continents, four countries and six collections; many of its pages were cropped, cut into four, or lost forever; its history, origin, commissioner and audience are obscure; still, in its fragmented state it presents fifty-eight legends in abundant series of images, on folios fully covered by miniatures, richly gilded, using only one side of the fine parchment; a luxurious codex worthy of a ruler; a unique iconographic treasury of medieval legends; one of the most significant manuscripts of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom – these are all what we call the Hungarian Angevin Legendary. 

The largest part of what remained of the codex was bound together in the eighteenth century in a volume housed in the Vatican Library. Some of the missing pages, often incomplete, have resurfaced in different parts of the world only to disappear again, finding their way into collections from the United States to Russia. Their common origin has only been discovered in the course of modern research. Those, who were privileged enough in the fourteenth century to page this codex, were probably interested in the identity of the saints they revered, their lives, and their accomplishments. For today’s observers, however, the primary role of the surviving codex pages is rather to illuminate the way people in the fourteenth century viewed them. This book seeks to answer these emerging questions through a study of the visual program of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary.

Foreword

Introduction

A circle of saints

Analysis of the legends

Analysis of the image types

Conclusions

Appendix

Tables

Critical edition of the Latin inscriptions

List of Abbreviations

Index

"This book is a tour de force in analysing the artistic and historical questions surrounding the manuscript. Szakács discusses previous scholarship, providing a survey of the literature, as well as pointing out the limitations of research. Based on the codicological analysis of the surviving folios, he reviews what we can know about the lost material. He then considers the choice of the particular saints and the episodes that are represented. Recurring visual elements are scrutinised. Finally, the context, the creation of the codex is examined. This volume is a major contribution not simply to medieval Central European art history and history, but also to the study of hagiography and medieval image cycles more generally."
"Béla Zsolt Szakács’s book on the Hungarian Angevin Legendary is an impressive work of scholarship on a known but understudied fourteenth-century manuscript depicting the lives of numerous saints. The richly illuminatedLegendary deserves attention because of the quality and quantity of its surviving illuminations, describing fifty-eight legends for a total of 549 images, and because the manuscript seemingly included no text at all apart from brief inscriptions, or tituli, at the bottom of the page. It is also a complex case study presenting a considerable research challenge. The author tackles the many complexities of the Legendary by closely engaging with the physical pages of the manuscript, demonstrating his extensive knowledge of the artifact throughout the text."

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