Two Unrecorded Woodcuts from Urs Graf’s “F.M.S.” Cycle

Leaf c2r of the Lea Library's "Seelengärtlein" (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?) with red and black inhabited woodcut initial H.
Leaf c2r of the Lea Library’s “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?) with red and black inhabited woodcut initial H. Photograph by the author.

In the spring of 2019 the Penn Libraries acquired for the Henry Charles Lea Library a German Hortulus animae or Seelengärtlein (BX2085 .S44 1515), a type of lay prayer book that enjoyed a brief burst of popularity in western Europe at the beginning of the sixteenth century.1 The first known Hortulus animae—Latin for “little garden of the soul”—was printed in 1498 at Strasbourg by Wilhelm Schaffner (Oldenbourg L1; ISTC ih00485000); three years later another Strasbourg printer, Johann Grüninger, issued the first German edition, whose subtitle explains, “This little book is an herb garden / Of the soul …” [Dyses büchlin ein wurtz gart ist / Der sel …] (Oldenbourg L4; VD 16 H 5076). Its small format (usually octavo) and use of illustrations as well as some of its textual content—”calendar, little office of the Virgin, seven penitential psalms, litany of the saints, suffrages … and office of the dead” [Kalender, Kleines Marienoffizium, sieben Busspsalmen, Allerheiligenlitanei, Suffragien … und Totenoffizium] (Ochsenbein 147-148)—attest to the genre’s roots in the book of hours, but as Anne Mette Hansen notes, “In the Hortulus animae, personal prayers occupy a central position. There are fewer prayers of the hours, but more Marian prayers, prayers at the cross of Jesus, supplications, confessional prayers, prayers for preparation before death and prayers on the deathbed, plus a calendar and numerous illustrated prayers to saints” [Im Hortulus animae nehmen die persönlichen Gebete ein zentrale Position ein. Es gibt hier weniger Stundengebete, dafür mehr Mariengebete, Gebete beim Kreuz Jesu, Bittgebete, Beichtgebete, Gebete zur Vorbereitung vor dem Tod und Gebete am Sterbebett, dazu ein Kalender und zahlreiche illustrierte Gebete zu Heiligen] (33, n. 12). The programmatic nature of the Hortulus animae both inspired and found uses for cycles of illustrations by some of the period’s master engravers, including Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein, and Urs Graf. The Lea Library’s Seelengärtlein contains seven woodcut illustrations from Graf’s “F.M.S.” cycle (so called from the initials which appear in them in addition to the artist’s mark), two of which are unrecorded and which I am pleased to introduce in this post.

First and last extant pages of "Seelengärtlein" (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?): leaves a2r (left) and H9v (right).
First and last extant pages of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Left: leaf a2r. Right: leaf H9v. Photographs by the author.

Though recognizable from its size (octavo) and content as a hortulus animae, the Lea Seelengärtlein cannot be identified with any of the editions cataloged in the two major bibliographies of the genre, Hanns Bohatta’s Bibliographie der Livres d’Heures (Horae B.M.V.) Officia, Hortuli Animae, Coronae B.M.V., Rosaria und Cursus B.M.V. des XV. und XVI. Jahrhunderts and M. Consuelo Oldenbourg’s Hortulus Animae (1494)-1523.2 Nor, unfortunately, does it have a title page or a colophon to tell us where, when or by whom it was printed. Everything before the second page of the calendar (leaf a2r, at left above) at the beginning of the book is missing, as well as everything after the eighth page of the Register [index] (leaf H9v, at right above) at the end. Another nineteen leaves (38 pages) are missing from various locations in the textblock. The text is printed in red and black, as shown in the photographs of leaves a2r and c2r above, and illustrated with sixty-seven extant woodcuts. Sixty of these (of which four appear twice for a total of fifty-six unique illustrations) are unsigned and most depict scenes from the life of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary or a saint with his/her attributes.3 Seven more—the Annunciation (leaf c1v), King David with harp (leaf i7r), Saint Lawrence (leaf r3v), Saint Paul and Saint Anthony (leaf r6r), Saint Barbara and Saint Margaret (leaf s7v), Saint Anne (as Anna Selbdritt, i.e. Saint Anne with the Virgin Mary and Child Jesus) and Saint Monica (leaf v6r), and the blessing of a church (leaf x3v)—are signed with the monogram VG and the letters F.M.S. The former is readily deciphered; the latter, not so much.

Woodcut of the Annunciation by Urs Graf with his "VG" monogram and the initials "F.M.S." from leaf c1v of "Seelengärtlein" (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?).
Woodcut of the Annunciation by Urs Graf with his “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” from leaf c1v of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Photograph by the author.

The monogram establishes the artist as Urs Graf, born in Solothurn, Switzerland, about 1485. His father Hug Graf was a goldsmith, but although Urs followed him in that trade, he neither inherited his father’s business nor limited himself to metalwork. Over the course of his career Graf distinguished himself not only as a goldsmith, but also as a glass painter, draftsman, and printmaker. He left Solothurn for Strasbourg in 1503, publishing his first woodcuts there in 1506, a Passion cycle (Rowlands C.4-28) printed with accompanying text in two editions by Johann Knobloch (VD 16 B 4690 and B 4754). By 1507 he had moved to Zurich to work as a goldsmith; two years later he made his way to Basel where he established his own shop, married a burgher’s daughter, and purchased his citizenship. Graf wore his growing responsibilities lightly, however, frequently volunteering for foreign military service: “He went as far as Rome with a troop from Soleure [Solothurn] in 1511, joined in the Basle expedition to Dijon in 1513, fought the French and the German lansquenets on the bloody field of Marignano in 1515, marched against Milan in 1521, and fought again at Bicocca the following year” (Major and Gradmann 8). Graf throve artistically as well as personally in this rough environment; the “sometimes violent and unorthodox subjects” of war and camp life “drawn in a lively, calligraphic manner” provided matter for a number of Graf’s drawings and prints (Turner et al. 162), including his pioneering white-line woodcuts of cantonal standard bearers (Rowlands B.29-44). He also cast a mordant eye over everyday life in Basel: “Who had ever dared to make fun of a respectable married couple from behind?—or to draw a wanton beauty so that her wantonness was branded on her face?” (Major and Gradmann 9). Success came quickly, particularly in Basel’s burgeoning book trade: “From 1509 onwards, Urs was overwhelmed with orders for woodcuts; for a time scarcely a book appeared in Basle without his collaboration. His woodcuts for the Basle and Strasbourg printers are to be reckoned by the hundred” (ibid.).

Woodcut of the King David as psalmist by Urs Graf with his "VG" monogram and the initials "F.M.S." from leaf i7r of "Seelengärtlein" (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?).
Woodcut of King David as psalmist by Urs Graf with his “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” from leaf i7r of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Photograph by the author.

Graf’s domestic life, on the other hand, was as odious as his art was popular. His wife Sibylla von Brunn, who married him against her family’s will in 1511 and bore him a son the following year, soon had cause to regret her choice. Graf was unfaithful and abusive; his maltreatment of Sibylla became so blatant that in 1522 he was jailed “on account of his lascivious life, that he consorted with whores, openly and brazenly giving himself over to adultery, besides treating his lawful spouse vilely and uncouthly with beatings and buffets” [vm sins vppigen lebens willens, so er mit den metzen brucht, offenlich vnd vnverschampt Inn dem eebruch wandlende, dorzu sin eeliche gemahel schnöd vnd vnwürsch mit slahen vnd stossen gehalten], according to a contemporary report (quoted in His 260). He was released after swearing “that henceforth he would neither strike, beat, pinch, choke or wound his spouse in any other way, but treat her as a proper wife and behave himself honorably as a proper husband ought” [das fürterhin er dieselb sin gemahel weder stossen, slahen, knütschen, clemmen, noch Inn einichen andern weg welle beleidigen, sunder sy als ein fromme frow halten vnd sich selbs erlich als eim frommen eemann gebürt ziehen] (ibid.).

Woodcut of Saint Lawrence by Urs Graf with his "VG" monogram and the initials "F.M.S." from leaf r3v of "Seelengärtlein" (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?).
Woodcut of Saint Lawrence by Urs Graf with his “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” from leaf r3v of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Photograph by the author.

But Graf had no interest in behaving himself. The “satirical, vicious sense of humour, particularly against women” (Bartrum 212) expressed in his art was by no means confined there; Graf was a habitual pot-stirrer, a sixteenth-century troll. His turn for invective repeatedly landed him in trouble with the authorities: “He was imprisoned in 1511 for mocking a priest, sentenced in 1513 for using obscene abuse to a tailor, and fined in 1514 for calling the coachmaker Claus Fesser a lansquenet [foreign mercenary] … Graf was imprisoned again in the summer of [1523], this time for inciting to sedition by saying repeatedly in a tavern ‘Ough! How cold it is in here!’ in transparent allusion to the warmth of Italy” (Major and Gradmann 8-9). He also relished malicious pranks, from tripping unsuspecting passers-by to emptying chamberpots on their heads. Once he filled the helmet of a sleeping watchman with muck, then created a commotion to wake him (Major and Gradmann 10-12). When called on his harassment, Graf doubled down, cursing and sometimes assaulting his victims. He finally went too far in 1518, “when he attacked and crippled a total stranger ‘without a word,’” and decamped for Solothurn to escape justice (Major and Gradmann 12).

Woodcut of Saint Anne holding Mary and Jesus and Saint Monica with kneeling Augustinian monk by Urs Graf with his "VG" monogram and the initials "F.M.S." from leaf v6r of "Seelengärtlein" (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?).
Woodcut of Saint Anne (Anna Selbdritt) and Saint Monica with kneeling Augustinian monk by Urs Graf with his “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” from leaf v6r of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Photograph by the author.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose: despite his obnoxious temperament and criminal behavior, Graf’s talents won him a continuous supply of second chances. Basel’s Rat (council) wooed him back from exile in 1519 with the post of die-cutter in the city’s mint, an office he held for the next four years. Graf’s most most significant work as a goldsmith was executed during this period as well: “a reliquary bust of Saint Bernard with silver plates engraved with scenes from the life of the saint, commissioned in 1519 by the monastery of Saint Urban (canton of Lucerne); eight plates from it are known” (Turner et al. 162). And the printers of Basel—especially Johann Froben and Adam Petri—continued to incorporate his illustrations and decorations in their books, including several Hortuli animae: one issued by Nikolaus Lamparter in 1518 (Oldenbourg L78; VD 16 H 5095), three by Thomas Wolff in 1519 (Oldenbourg L88; VD 16 H 5066), 1520 (Oldenbourg L91; VD 16 H 5100) and 1523 (Oldenbourg L103; VD 16 H 5103), and one by Pamphilus Gengenbach, also in 1519 (Oldenbourg L 89; VD 16 ZV 8232).

Woodcut of the blessing of a church by Urs Graf with his “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” from leaf r3v of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?).
Woodcut of the blessing of a church by Urs Graf with his “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” from leaf x3v of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Photograph by the author.

None of these, however, avails itself of more than a cut or three (Wolff’s 1519 and 1520 editions include only a Graf-designed title border). Graf’s substantive work for this genre seems to have been carried out slightly earlier in his career. He was, for example, the primary illustrator of the octavo Hortulus animae printed by Johann Knobloch at Strasbourg in 1516 (Oldenbourg L63; VD 16 H 5064). “It was probably Knobloch’s intention to bring out a Hortulus that was more manageable, i.e. smaller in size than the previous Strasbourg editions,” writes Oldenbourg. “He commissioned from his compatriot Urs Graf the illustrations necessary for this very small format” [Es war wohl Knoblouchs Absicht, einen Hortulus herauszubringen, der handlicher, d.h., im Umfang geringer sei als die bisherigen Strassburger Ausgaben. Mit den dazu notwendigen Illustrationen sehr kleinen Formats beauftragte er seinen Landsmann Urs Graf] (81). Graf produced sixty-eight woodcuts for this edition (Rowlands C.339), three of which—Saint Barbara, Saint Catherine, and the Last Judgment—are signed with his monogram. “The degree of detail in the drawing, which quickly but without any carelessness tackles a main point clearly emphasized in the composition, is happily in line with the chosen minimal format,” enthuses Hans Koegler, extolling the illustrations as “of ideally daintier, brighter and friendlier appearance in the light, folkishly striking in their concise conception of the image, pious and generally quite charming” [Das Maß der zeichnerischen Ausführlichkeit, die rasch, doch ohne jede Flüchtigkeit auf eine jeweils klar in der Komposition herausgehobene Hauptsache losgeht, hält sich in glücklicher Übereinstimmung mit dem gewählten Minimalformat … von beispielhaft leichter, heller und freundlicher Erscheinung im Licht, volkstümlich schlagend in ihrer knappen Bildauffassung, fromm und meist ausgesprochen liebenswürdig] (89). Koegler also regards this group as an improvement on the illustrations which appeared in Michael Furter’s German Hortulus animae in Basel the preceding year (Oldenbourg L57; VD 16 ZV 8231). This edition contains two larger woodcuts by Graf depicting the Annunciation and Saint Bridget (Rowlands C.321, 334) and twelve smaller ones on various subjects (Rowlands C.322-333) “which the artist—it is obviously Urs Graf, no. 1 bears his monogram—treated … carelessly and without interest, also in part palmed off on his journeymen,” sniffs Koegler [die der Künstler—es ist doch offenbar Urs Graf, Nr. 1 trägt sein Monogramm—… flüchtig und interesselos behandelte, teilweise auch seinen Gesellenhänden zuschob] (86).

F.M.S. WoodcutKoegler Beitr.Koegler Erb.RowlandsHieronymus
St. Anne & St. Monica374.2XIII.1C.182b93.6
St. Stephen, St. Sebastian
& St. Cyriacus
St. Peter & St. Paul374.6XIII.3C.182f93.2
Blessing of a church374.7XIII.4C.182g93.8
King David374.4XIII.5C.182d93.1
Death carrying a coffin374.8XIII.7N/A93.10
St. Augustine340a, 374.1XIII.8C.182a93.5
Presentation of the Virgin268XIII.9N/A93.7
St. LawrenceN/AXIII.10N/A93.4, 93a
Table of the 10 woodcuts with Urs Graf’s “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” cataloged in H. Koegler, “Beiträge zum Holzschnittwerk des Urs Graf” (1907); H. Koegler, “Die Illustrierten Erbauungsbücher” (1940); J.K. Rowlands, “Urs Graf” (1977); and F. Hieronymus, “Basler Buchillustration” (1984).

Before he designed either of these, however, Graf was probably commissioned to create the F.M.S. cycle included in the Lea Seelengärtlein. This group of woodcuts takes its name from the “capitals ‘F.M.S.’ or ‘FMS’, which are placed near the lower border at the foot of the landscapes or interiors; in no. 6, the Annunciation to Mary, the ‘F.M.S.’ appears a little more modestly in the ribbon on the flower vase” [Majuskeln “F. M. S.” oder “FMS” … die jeweils nahe dem unteren Einfassungsstrich auf den Bodenstücken der Landschaften oder Interieurs angebracht sind; bei Nr. 6, der Verkündigung an Maria, steht das “F.M.S.” etwas bescheidener auf dem Ringband der Blumenvase] (Koegler, Erbauungsbücher 84). All are signed with Graf’s VG monogram and no. 7, Death carrying a coffin, addtionally “with the borax box, a goldsmith’s soldering tool, which Urs Graf very often added to his monogram; on no. 2, St. Augustine, on a milestone in the landscape there also appears a xylographic ‘+Basi/lea’ and the Baselstab,” Basel’s heraldic device [mit der Boraxbüchse, einem Lötwerkzeug des Goldschmieds versehen, das Urs Graf sehr oft seinem Monogramm beifügte; auf Nr. 2, dem Hl. Augustinus, steht auf einem Meilenstein in der Landschaft auch noch xylographisch: “+ Basi/lea” und der Baselstab] (Koegler, Erbauungsbücher 83-84). Koegler enumerates ten illustrations belonging to this cycle, of which two represent scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary—the Annunciation (Koegler Z. 13.6) and the Presentation (Koegler Z. 13.9)—five portray a saint or group of saints4Anne (with Virgin Mary and Child Jesus) and Monica (Koegler Z. 13.1), Stephen, Sebastian and Cyriacus (Koegler Z. 13.2 as Stephen, Sebastian and a deacon; Cyriacus identified in Hieronymus 93), Peter and Paul (Koegler Z. 13.3), Augustine (Koegler Z. 13.8), and Lawrence (Koegler Z. 13.10)—and three depict other subjects—the blessing of a church (Koegler Z. 13.4), King David as psalmist (Koegler Z. 13.5), and Death carrying a coffin (Koegler Z. 13.7). The initials F.M.S., in conjunction with the subsidiary figure of a kneeling Augustinian friar (recognizable by his habit) in the illustrations of Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, probably commemorate the cycle’s patron, plausibly identified by Frank Hieronymus (following Vera Sack) as Frater [Brother] Maximilian Stürtzel (79-80).5

Left: Sample of type M 1 used in "Hortulus Animae [Deutsch]" (Basel: Pamphilus Gengenbach, between February 1513-August 1515) (Prietzel 266). Right: Sample of type from leaf H6r of "Seelengärtlein" (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515-1520?).
Left: Sample of type M 1 used in “Hortulus Animae [Deutsch]” (Basel: Pamphilus Gengenbach, between February 1513 and August 1515) (Prietzel 266). Right: Sample of type from leaf H6r of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Photograph by the author.

Koegler judges that “in the development of Urs Graf’s style … the sequence’s date of origin fits around 1510 to 1512” [in der Stilentwicklung Urs Grafs reiht sich die Folge … mit einer Entstehungszeit um 1510 bis 1512 ein], while noting that its few explicitly dated appearances are a decade later (Erbauungsbücher 85). Indeed, the cycle has hitherto been known primarily from undated fragments. Numbers XIII.1-8 are held in the Urs Graf portfolio of the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, and were excised from an otherwise unknown German Hortulus animae deduced to have been printed in Basel by Pamphilus Gengenbach between February 1513 and August 1515 (Hieronymus 93). Number XIII.2 is also known from printed waste in a copy of the Missale Speciale (Strasbourg: Reinhard Beck, 1512; VD 16 M 5628) at the Universitätsbibliothek Basel and from a specimen held in a private collection in London (Rowlands C.182). Three others make individual appearances in Gengenbach publications from the middle of the second decade of the sixteenth century to the turn of the third: no. XIII.6 in a German Hortulus animae (1519; VD 16 ZV 8232); no. XIII.9 in a life of the Virgin Mary, Die Siben Alter oder Bilgerschafft der Junckfrawen Marie (1521; VD 16 G 1215); and no. XIII.10 in Laurentius Corvinus’s Latinum Idioma (ca. 1515; VD 16 C 5526). The Lea Seelengärtlein is thus far the only text to show a substantial number of F.M.S. illustrations in situ in a work of the genre for which they were apparently designed. It is not, however, the same edition as the purported Hortulus animae of the Berlin fragments. The text of the Seelengärtlein is printed in clear and lovely Rotunda letters, but not the fragments’ Rotunda M1 (Prietzel 263), as can be seen in the specimens of each shown above.6

Two unrecorded woodcuts by Urs Graf with his monogram ("VG") and the initials "F.M.S." Left: St. Anthony as hermit and abbot. Right: Saint Barbara and Saint Margaret.
Two unrecorded woodcuts by Urs Graf with his monogram (“VG”) and the initials “F.M.S.” from “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Left: Saint Paul the Hermit and Saint Anthony the Great. Right: Saint Barbara and Saint Margaret of Antioch. Photographs by the author.

As for the illustrations, five of the ten recorded F.M.S. woodcuts are extant in this edition: the Annunciation (leaf c1v; digital facsimile image 28) introducing the hours of the Virgin; King David (leaf i7r; digital facsimile image 135), introducing the seven penitential psalms; Saint Lawrence (leaf r3v; digital facsimile image 252), accompanying his suffrages; Saint Anne and St. Monica (leaf v6r; digital facsimile image 291), accompanying the prayers for the Nativity of the Virgin; and the blessing of a church (leaf x3v; digital facsimile image 296), with prayers for the same. The Lea Seelengärtlein‘s suffrages also incorporate two previously unrecorded woodcuts to be added to the F.M.S. cycle’s tally: Saint Paul the Hermit with Saint Anthony the Great (leaf r6r; digital facsimile image 257) and Saint Barbara with Saint Margaret of Antioch (leaf s7v; digital facsimile image 272). In the first illustration (at left above), the two figures stand beneath a decorative arcade, Saint Paul on the left in his characteristic tunic of palm leaves (note the palm tree in the landscape behind his left arm) and Saint Anthony on the right, anachronistically habited as a Hospital Brother of Saint Anthony, holding a tau-shaped cross and accompanied by his customary pig. These two saints are often represented together, frequently in the context of Saint Anthony’s visit to Saint Paul as recounted in Saint Athanasius’s Vita Sancti Antonii‏, but this is unusual in Hortuli animae, which prefer pictures of individual saints (see note 4). Moreover, Saint Paul the Hermit is not depicted in any Hortulus animae in Oldenbourg’s comprehensive census (214);7 neither do his suffrages appear in the Lea Seelengärtlein, making his appearance doubly anomalous. Perhaps Graf was thinking beyond the illustration’s immediate context, if it is in fact the case that the F.M.S. cycle was initially designed for a Hortulus animae. Graf’s monogram and the initials F.M.S., on the other hand, appear in typical locations at the bottom of the image, the former at Saint Paul’s feet and the latter at Saint Anthony’s.

In the second illustration (at right above), the figures stand beneath a banderole in a landscape with a castle in the background between them, Saint Barbara on the left beside a model of her three-windowed tower and Saint Margaret on the right impaling the small dragon at her feet through the mouth with a cross-topped staff. Each holds a book in her left hand: Saint Barbara’s is open as she reads it; Saint Margaret’s, closed. The letters F.M.S. are front and center at the top of the image, presented to the viewer on a banderole held aloft by two winged putti hovering in the corners of the frame. Graf’s monogram, too, appears on the banderole, on its own fold right of center. Only in the F.M.S. cycle’s Presentation of the Virgin is Graf’s signature more prominent, occupying the entire front of the altar before which Mary stands (image). And in none of the other extant F.M.S. woodcuts are the initials of the patron so conspicuous. The depictions of Saint Augustine and Saint Monica each features a banderole exhibiting the name of the saint, probably as yet another way of emphasizing the cycle’s Augustinian connection. While it is certainly possible that the donor’s initials and the artist’s monogram were displaced upward simply because the foot of the illustration of Saint Barbara and Saint Margaret is so busy, it is also possible that this is another nod to the identity, affiliation, or even devotional preference of the patron, though his figure does not appear.

Detail of woodcut of Saint Barbara and Saint Margaret by Urs Graf with his “VG” monogram and the initials “F.M.S.” from leaf s7v of “Seelengärtlein” (Basel?: Pamphilus Gengenbach?, between 1515 and 1520?). Photograph by the author.

Urs Graf disappears with uncharacteristic meekness from the historical record after 1527; Sibylla Graf remarried on 15 October 1528 and hopefully enjoyed a more humane relationship with her second spouse. But Graf’s art remains to challenge and intrigue its viewers five centuries later. These two new F.M.S. woodcuts didn’t exactly leap out and yell “BOO!” at me, as would have no doubt pleased their creator, but they were a surprising find nonetheless. I hope the Lea Seelengärtlein will interest bibliographers and art historians as much as it has this cataloger.


1 The book was previously part of the library of Giacomo Calleri Damonte (1928-2008) and contains his bookplate.

2 Neither was it recorded in Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts (VD 16), the online database of sixteenth-century works printed in German-speaking Europe. It has since been submitted for inclusion.

3 Other cuts include a Dominical letter chart (leaf b6v), illustrations of sacramental actions, such as confession and the Eucharist (leaves x4v, z1v and A1r), the Arma Christi—alone (leaf v6v) and with Christ as Man of Sorrows and Virgin as Mater Dolorosa (leaf i1r)—Hell (leaf G3r), and the Last Judgment (leaf G4v).

4 Hieronymus notes that the choice to depict saints in groups is unusual (perhaps even awkward) for this genre:

What is striking about this illustrative scheme from an artistic point of view are the woodcuts with Peter and Paul as well as the three martyrs: in the Hortuli, individual representations of the saints, not groups, are common. The woodcut group of three may have resulted in the change in the text that Laurentius (with individual woodcut) follows Stephanus instead of preceding him as usual. Of all the known Hortuli, this order is otherwise only shown by the Gengenbach of 1519 (see lists in Oldenbourg, p. 71ff), where the change—here not motivated by individual woodcuts—is likely to have been taken up from the previous version. [Auffällig an dieser Illustration sind zunächst vom künstlerischen Gesichtspunkt die Holzschnitte mit Petrus und Paulus sowie den drei Märtyren: in den Hortuli sind Einzeldarstellungen der Heiligen, nicht Gruppen, üblich. Die Dreiergruppe des Holzschnitts dürfte die Umstellung im Text zur Folge gehabt haben, dass Laurentius (mit Einzelholzschnitt) auf Stephanus folgt, statt wie üblich ihm voranzugehen. Diese Reihenfolge zeigt unter allen bekannten Hortuli sonst nur noch der Gengenbachs von 1519 (s. Listen bei Oldenbourg S. 71 ff), wo die Umstellung—hier mit Einzelholzschnitten nicht motiviert—beim Satz aus dem Vorgänger übernommen sein dürfte.] (78)

In the Lea Seelengärtlein, however, Saint Lawrence (leaf r3v) precedes Saint Stephen (leaf r4r).

5 After initially suggesting that the initials “F.M.S.” might belong to the woodcuts’ blockcutter (Beiträge 213), Koegler interpreted “F.M.S.” as “Fratrum Minorum Sorores” [i.e. the Poor Clares]:

The explanation seems to me to be given by a single-sheet woodcut by an unknown artist from around 1510 in the Graphische Sammlung in Munich, wherein one can see the standing St. Anna Selbdritt between two other standing female saints and on the lower edge a caption with the inscription: “Sancta Clara De. Monte. Falco. F.M.S.” and in front of the right-hand saint a little monk kneels with a coat of arms, in it the lion of St. Mark with “F.M.S.” once again … From Clara de Monte Falco one arrives at the Carissen [sic] Order, a sister order of the Minorites, and so I would like to decipher the F.M.S. as “Fratrum Minorum Sorores.” [Die Erklärung scheint mir ein Einblattholzschnitt unbekannten Künstlers, etwa aus der Zeit um 1510, in der Graphischen Sammlung in München an die Hand zu geben, in dem man die stehende hl. Anna selbdritt zwischen zwei anderen stehenden weiblichen Heiligen sieht und am unteren Rand einen Spruchstreifen mit der Inschrift: “Sancta Clara De. Monte. Falco. F.M.S.” und vor der rechten Heiligen kniet ein kleiner Mönch mit einem Wappenschild, darin der Markuslöwe mit dem abermaligen “F.M.S.” zu sehen ist … Wegen der hl. Clara von Monte Falco kommt man auf den Carissen Orden, einen Schwesterorden der Minoriten, und so möchte ich das F.M.S. als “Fratrum Minorum Sorores” auflösen.] (Erbauungsbücher 85)

The misidentification of Clare of Montefalco, abbess of the Augustinian house of Santa Croce, with Clare of Assisi, founder of the Second Order of Saint Francis, has been corrected by Vera Sack, who also identifies the arms on the shield as those of the Stürtzel family and posits Maximilian Stürtzel, son of Konrad Stürtzel (1435-1509) of Freiburg, as the M.S. of F.M.S. See Vera Sack, “Ein Freiburger Einblattdruck des Frühen 16. Jahrhunderts,” Schau-ins-Land 94/95 (1976/1977): 219-237.

6 The bookseller’s description of the Lea Seelengärtlein assigns it to Basel or Strasbourg and dates it between 1515 and 1520. I have tentatively credited the work to Pamphilus Gengenbach based on his known use of the F.M.S. cycle, but should note that it also shares eleven woodcuts with Nikolaus Lamparter’s 1518 Hortulus Anime Tütsch (VD 16 H 5095; Oldenbourg L 78): Saint George (leaf q7v), Saint Christopher (by Albrecht Dürer; leaf r2v), Saint Stephen (leaf r4r), Saint Martin (by Albrecht Dürer; leaf s3v), Saint Apollonia (leaf s6r), Saint Elizabeth (leaf t3v), Adoration of the Magi (leaf t7r), Ascension (leaf v2r), Visitation (leaf v4v), Apostles (leaf v7r), and Holy Communion (leaf z1v). I would welcome the opinions of others (particularly typography mavens!) on the questions of printer and date.

7 Paul the Hermit is not the only saint of the F.M.S. cycle whose appearance in the corpus of Hortuli animae illustrations is unique. Saint Cyriacus, too, is “not otherwise shown in the Hortuli, according to Oldenbourg’s directory p. 212″ [sonst in den Hortuli, nach Verzeichnis Oldenbourg S. 212, nicht abgebildet] (Hieronymus 78), though he is usually included in the suffrages.

Works Cited

Bartrum, Giulia. German Renaissance Prints 1490-1550. London: British Museum Press, 1995.

Hansen, Anne Mette. “Die Transmission Spätmittelalterlicher Gebetbücher als Primärquelle zur Textkritischen Ausgabe.” Text—Reihe—Transmission: Unfestigkeit als Phänomen Skandinavischer Erzählprosa 1500-1800. Ed. Jürg Glauser and Anna Katharina Richter. Tübingen: A. Francke Verlag, 2012. 29-49.

Hieronymus, Frank. Basler Buchillustration 1500-1545. Basel: Universitätsbibliothek, 1984.

His, Eduard. “Urs Graf: Goldschmied, Münzstempelgraveur und Formschneider von Basel.” Jahrbücher für Kunstwissenschaft 5. Jahrg. (1873): 257-262.

Koegler, Hans. “Beiträge zum Holzschnittwerk des Urs Graf.” Anzeiger für Schweizerische Altertumskunde N.F. Bd. 9 (1907): 43-57, 132-143, 213-229.

—. “Die illustrierten Erbauungsbücher, Heiligenlegenden und geistlichen Auslegungen im Basler Buchdruck der ersten Hälfte des XVI. Jahrhunderts: mit Ausschluss der Postillen, Passionate, Evangelienbücher und Bibeln.” Basler Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Altertumskunde 39 (1940): 53-157.

Major, Emil, and Gradmann, Erwin. Urs Graf. London: Home and Van Thal, 1947.

Ochsenbein, Peter. “Hortulus animae.” Die Deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters: Verfasserlexikon. 2., völlig neu bearbeitete Aufl. Bd. 4, Lfg. 1. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1982. 147-154.

Oldenbourg, M. Consuelo. Hortulus Animae (1494)-1523: Bibliographie und Illustration. Hamburg: Dr. Ernst Hauswedell & Co., 1973.

Prietzel, Kerstin. “Pamphilus Gengenbach, Drucker zu Basel (um 1480-1525).” Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens 52 (1999): 229-461.

Rowlands, John K. Urs Graf. Vol. 11 of Hollstein’s German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts. Amsterdam: Van Gendt & Co., 1977.

Turner, Nicholas, et al. European Drawings 3: Catalogue of the Collections. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997.

2 responses to “Two Unrecorded Woodcuts from Urs Graf’s “F.M.S.” Cycle”

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