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The court of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II produced nothing more amazing than the Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta, a brilliant demonstration of two arts-calligraphy and miniature painting. The project began when Rudolf's predecessor, Ferdinand I, commissioned master calligrapher Georg Bocskay to create a model book of calligraphy. A preeminent scribe, Bocskay assembled a vast selection of contemporary and historic scripts. Years later, at Rudolf's behest, miniaturist Joris Hoefnagel filled the spaces on each manuscript page with insects, fruits, flowers, and other botanical images. The combination of word and illustration is rare and, on its tiny scale, constitutes one of the marvels of the Central European Renaissance. Nature Illuminated reproduces forty-one pages from the original codex. Those who love and collect beautiful books will be endlessly fascinated by Hoefnagel's imagery and invention. The accompanying commentary identifies and explains the details of Hoefnagel's exquisitely crafted illuminations.
Lee Hendrix is senior curator of drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Joris Hoefnagel was a Flemish painter, printamaker, miniaturist, draftsman and merchant, noted for his illustrations of natural history subjects, topographical views, illuminations and mythological works. He was one of the last manuscript illuminators and made a major contribution to the development of topographical drawing.
Georg Bocskay was imperial secretary to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and a master calligrapher.