A Nostalgic Filter: A University of Pittsburgh Exhibition

Hortus Deliciarum

Formerly Strasbourg (destroyed), Bibliothèque de la Ville, MS 955

The Hortus Deliciarum was compiled under the direction of the abbess Herrad of Landsberg as an encyclopedic source of knowledge for the nuns of Hohenberg Abbey in Alsace. This ambitious and innovative teaching tool interspersed strikingly original compositions, such as the image of an enthroned personification of Philosophy surrounded by the Seven Liberal Arts, with more conventional illustrations of biblical narratives. By 1870, when the original manuscript was destroyed during the siege of Strasbourg in the Franco-Prussian War, the most unusual images had been published by 19th-century scholars, but no full facsimile had been attempted. The full contents of the manuscript can therefore no longer be reconstructed in the manner of Scivias; the surviving reproductions are likewise filtered through the handiwork of 19th-century artists who harmonized the medieval images with their own aesthetic preferences. Nevertheless, scholarly facsimiles like this 20th-century reproduction still offer a distant glimpse of the lost medieval original, and with it the rich intellectual life of an elite medieval convent.

To the best of our knowledge, a digitized reconstruction of this manuscript has not been made available online.  If you would like to bring an open-access digitization to our attention, please contact the UAG at Pitt.


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