The Jewel Book of the Duchess Anna of Bavaria

This unique manuscript was commissioned in 1552 by Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria, the founder of what is today the Bavarian State Library. The manuscript is an inventory of the jewelry owned by the duke and his wife, Duchess Anna, a member of the Habsburg dynasty and a daughter of Emperor Ferdinand I. The work contains 110 magnificent drawings by the Munich court painter Hans Mielich. One of the most impressive of these drawings is the front page miniature showing Albrecht and Anna playing chess, with Albrecht portrayed as a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Because of its outstanding importance as a work of art, the manuscript was kept in the private ducal and electoral Chamber of Artifacts for almost three centuries—long after the originals of the jewelry depicted had been lost. Only in 1843 was the work presented to the Bavarian State Library by King Ludwig I.

Anna of Austria (7 July 1528 – 16 October 1590), a member of the Imperial House of Habsburg, was Duchess of Bavaria from 1550 until 1579, by her marriage with Duke Albert V. Born at the Bohemian court in Prague, Anna was the third of fifteen children of King Ferdinand I (1503–1564) from his marriage with the Jagiellonian princess Anna of Bohemia and Hungary (1503–1547). Anna married on 4 July 1546 in Regensburg at the age of 17, Prince Albert V.

After their marriage, the young couple lived at the Trausnitz Castle in Landshut, until Albert became duke upon his father’s death on 7 March 1550. At the Munich Residenz, Anna and Albert had great influence on the spiritual life in the Duchy of Bavaria, and enhanced the reputation of Munich as a city of art, by founding several museums and laying the foundations for the Bavarian State Library.

Albert was a patron of the arts and a collector whose personal accumulations are the basis of the Wittelsbach antique collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, the coin collection, and the Wittelsbach treasury in the Munich Residenz founded by him to house the jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty; some of his Egyptian antiquities remain in the collection of Egyptian art. His personal library founded in 1558 has come to the Bavarian State Library in Munich, inheritor of the Wittelsbach court library. In 1559 Albert founded the Paedagogium in Munich.

Albert bought whole collections in Rome and Venice; in Venice, after tiresome drawn-out negotiations with the aged Andrea Loredan, he purchased the Loredan collection virtually in its entirety: 120 bronzes, 2480 medals and coins, 91 marble heads, 43 marble statues, 33 reliefs and 14 various curiosities, for the sum of 7000 ducats; “they were all exported from Venice secretly at night in large chests”.[2] At the same time, squabbles among the heirs of Gabriele Vendramin thwarted him in his attempt to purchase the single most important collection in Venice and paintings and antiquities, drawings by the masters and ancient coins.[3] To house his extensive collection of antiquities he commissioned the Antiquarium (created 1568–1571) in the Munich Residenz, the largest Renaissance hall north of the Alps. – Albert V, Duke of Bavaria. 2021 February 1. In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_V,_Duke_of_Bavaria / Archduchess Anna of Austria. 2021 January 10. In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archduchess_Anna_of_Austria

Self portrait of Hans Mielich, illustrator. This illustration is shown on the last page (page 222) of Orlando di Lasso’s Bußpsalmen, illustrated by Hans Mielich. The manuscript is archived at the Bavarian State Library under the signature BSB Mus. ms. A I

Mielich was a German painter and illuminator. A Self-portrait by the artist at the age of fifty-five, dated 1571, allows us to establish the year of his birth as 1516. Mielich was one of the leading Munich painters, executing religious compositions, portraits and manuscript illuminations. He may have first trained with his father, Wolfgang, then in 1536 moved to Ratisbon to continue his studies with Albrecht Altdorfer. His contact with the latter was fundamental for his evolution as a painter, in particular Altdorfer’s use of colour, as Mielich’s early works reveal. On his return to Munich, Mielich became court painter to Duke William IV of Bavaria, succeeding Barthel Beham after that artist’s death. In 1541 the Duke sent him to Italy to continue his studies. There, Mielich encountered the great works of the Renaissance and in particular the art of Michelangelo, which profoundly influenced his later style. In 1543 Mielich was master of the painters’ guild in Munich.In addition to his work for the Duke of Bavaria, Mielich also received numerous commissions from wealthy citizens of Munich. He died there in 1573. – El Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza 

Explore the full manuscript

Visit the Munich Residenz Treasury Museum (former royal palace of the Wittelsbach monarchs of Bavaria)

Visit the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library)

Founded by Duke Albert V the Treasury houses the jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty. This magnificent display in the Schatzkammer (Treasury) is contained in ten halls in the eastern wing of the Königsbau. The collection is one of the most important in the world and spans 1000 years from the early Middle Ages to Neo-classicism. Royal insignia, crowns, swords, goblets, goldsmith works, rock crystal, ivory work, icons and numerous other treasures like precious tableware and toiletries are magnificently presented.

Hans Mielich

Kurt Locher

Published by Deutscher Kunstverlag (2002)

ISBN 10: 3422063587 ISBN 13: 9783422063587

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