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The Vorau Picture Bible – Complete Edition
The most beautiful German picture bible
Monastery Library Vorau, Codex 273, Southern Germany, 1467



Further Pictures


The end of the Middle ages was marked by great spiritual, social and economic upheavals. These are also reflected in the manuscripts of that time, that can be regarded as outstanding documents of the cultural development.
A special status applies to the history-Bible coming into this context. The biblical stories were developed through them by secular-historic and philosophical digressions to a type of medieval universal-history, that extended from the creation to the most recent times. Where the biblical event showed historic gaps, they closed these with, legends and terrestrial history-works. Written in the language of the people, the history-Bible filled the demand by offering religious-educational edification on the one hand and also served to widen knowledge to the population through an accessible history-book.

559 outstanding miniatures

Among the approximately 100 German-language history-Bibles, the Vorauer Peoples Bible occupies the highest position in an artistic sense. Altogether 559 miniatures accompany the text written in a Bavarian-Austrian dialect. The edition includes 4 volumes:
    1.    The New Testament
    2.    The Old Testament I
    3.    The Old Testament II
    4.    The Old Testament III

The artists coloured in shining watercolors, the skillfully executed quill pen drawings with their own expressionist tendencies. The figures are expressed with an inner and outer agitation, indicating an attempt at characterization and individualization - style-characteristics that were noticibly abscent from the " High Art " of the time.
The miniatures were originally primarily used to interpret the texts and to illustrate the manuscript, but they also fill another function for the present day observer: They document the medieval life in a most diverse way. Through the drawings, the Vorauer Peoples Bible turns into a virtually inexhaustible source for the costumes and decorations of the time.

The text

The text of the Vorauer Peoples Bible was executed very carefully in the Scriptorium of the Austrian Rulers. The text was written in red while the initials are in red and blue.

The formation

The Vorauer Peoples Bible can be exactly dated to its time of completion. Folio 447v contains details of the dates by the scribe: "Also hat ein endt dy wibel dy alt ee vnd ein tail der newen ee vnd ist geendt waren in vigilia omnium sanctorum anno domini M °CCCC °67". The day of the completion was therefore the 31. 10. 1467. The name of the scribe is not mentioned. With all likelihood, it was someone well informed in religious matters, probably a minister from the South German area.
The manner in which the manuscript came to be in the library of Vorau has not yet been determined. Its first mention there is in the year 1733 and since that time has been regarded as its major treasure.

The Facsimile

The facsimile corresponds to the original down to the smallest detail. The photographs necessary for the realization of an exact replica were taken at the library in Vorau. The most modern laser scanner technology made possible the control of all individual color values in each phase of the production process. Each facsimile sheet was subject to a multi-stage original comparison during the production to ensure that the colours matched the original precisely.
The printing of the facsimile is on a paper that corresponds to the original paper of the manuscript not only in surface structure and strength, but also through its complete freedom from acid.
The leather cover with blind stamping corresponds to the cover of the original.

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