Flemish School

Dagmar Thoss and Christine Beier


The project is dedicated to the Flemish manuscripts of the Austrian National Library and thus examines one of the most important collections of these masterpieces of book illumination. One focal point is the group of manuscripts whose decoration is subsumed under the term "Ghent-Bruges School". This refers to a period of book illumination in which this art reached one of its heights and Flanders took the lead in Europe for several decades. During this period, it was very important in all political centres of Europe to have illuminated manuscripts made in Flanders. This applied not only to the Habsburg courts in Vienna, Innsbruck and Madrid, which maintained particularly close contacts with the Netherlands through their dynastic connections, but also to the Italian princely courts and the English royal court. Another important part of the collection are the two magnificent codices of Joris Hoefnagel, one of the most outstanding artists of the late 16th century. With his œuvre he gave the genre at the end of its history a final, brilliant climax: The Missale Romanum commissioned by Archduke Ferdinand of Tyrol for his son Cardinal Andreas of Austria, contains more than 500 richly decorated pages on which Hoefnagel presents all facets of his art. No less impressive in terms of the extent of the artistic achievement are the so-called Croy albums, 15 of a total of 25 preserved volumes of a monumental topographical collection almost two and a half thousand views. These numerically dominant works are accompanied by a variety of interesting manuscripts, among them literary and historical works, which were richly decorated with pictorial programs and decorative ornaments.