A Nostalgic Filter: A University of Pittsburgh Exhibition


Formerly Wiesbaden (lost), Hessische Landesbibliothek, Hs. 1

One of the most prolific authors of the 12th century, Hildegard of Bingen wrote vivid accounts of her mystic visions that are richly documented in several medieval manuscripts. Scivias (‘Know the Ways’), her most widely revered work, warns against corruption through 35 illustrations that were likely made under Hildegard’s direct supervision. The most precious of the few surviving Scivias manuscripts – the copy most closely associated with Hildegard herself – was taken to Dresden for safekeeping during World War II, only to be lost or stolen during the war’s chaotic aftermath. Because the only photographs of the book were taken in black-and-white, a copy handmade by nuns in the years 1927-1933 has served as the primary basis for modern facsimiles. It is difficult to assess how closely the book’s enchanting colors resemble the lost original: some of the pastel hues suggest the influence of Art Nouveau, especially in the borders, making the facsimile not only a record of Hildegard’s visions but also that of the modern women whose work as copyists has allowed the lost book to live on.

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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