Illuminated Manuscript Production in Medieval Iceland
Literary and Artistic Activities of the Monastery at Helgafell in the Fourteenth Century
- Pages: 275 p.
- Size:216 x 280 mm
- Illustrations:192 b/w, 22 col., 47 tables b/w., 2 maps b/w
- Publication Year:2021
- € 120,00 EXCL. VAT RETAIL PRICE
- ISBN: 978-2-503-58902-2
- ISBN: 978-2-503-59485-9
Available in Open Access on BrepolsOnline
Exemplifies the international societal and artistic contexts of book production in medieval Scandinavia and beyond.
“There is much to commend in this monograph: it is meticulous and well-researched, drawing upon a large and varied body of secondary literature as well as first-hand examination of the source material. The author handles an impressive amount of complex and detailed information, visually represented in graphs outlining the artistic and scribal networks of the Helgafell group and related manuscripts (…) the book should be considered an important contribution to our knowledge of an important group of manuscripts.” (Synnøve Midtbø Myking, in The Medieval Review, 14/03/2022)
“Drechsler’s work sheds light on medieval manuscript production in circumstances rather different from what are often believed to have prevailed elsewhere in medieval Europe, and deserves the attention of serious students of medieval Iceland and of medieval manuscript art and medieval palaeography and codicology more generally.” (John Kennedy, in Parergon, 39/1, 2022, p. 236)
“This impressive monograph presents an exhaustive, revisionist study of the illuminated manuscripts from the Icelandic scriptorium at the house of Augustinian canons at Helgafell, one of the most important (and oldest) centres of scribal and artistic activity in fourteenth-century Iceland.” (JEFFREY F. HAMBURGER, in Medium Aevum, XCII.I, 2022, p. 142)
“The work is an important foundation for Icelandic book history and art history, and it sheds a little more light on a neglected period of Icelandic history, the second half of the fourteenth century. At the same time, however, it shows that many questions regarding the cultural history of this period are still unanswered. In that respect, it marks the beginning rather than the end of an interesting field of research.” (Sverrir Jakobsson, in Saga: Tímarit sögufélags, LX:1, 2022, p. 223
“Drechsler’s book exemplifies what manuscript studies can achieve when various physical, textual, and visual aspects of manuscripts are brought together in a comprehensive, highly engaged, and engaging analysis.” (Visa Immonen, in Speculum, 98/4, 2023, p. 1235)
Stefan Drechsler is a Postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies, University of Bergen. He received his PhD in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Aberdeen in April 2018. His principal research interests lie in the fields of Old Norse Philology and Art History, and he has published numerous articles and book chapters on interdisciplinary and societal aspects of Scandinavian and English manuscript cultures.
This book examines a cultural revolution that took place in the Scandinavian artistic landscape during the medieval period. Within just one generation (c. 1340–1400), the Augustinian monastery of Helgafell became the most important centre of illuminated manuscript production in western Iceland. By conducting interdisciplinary research that combines methodologies and sources from the fields of Art History, Old Norse-Icelandic manuscript studies, codicology, and Scandinavian history, this book explores both the illuminated manuscripts produced at Helgafell and the cultural and historical setting of the manuscript production.
Equally, the book explores the broader European contexts of manuscript production at Helgafell, comparing the similar domestic artistic monuments and relevant historical evidence of Norwich and surrounding East Anglia in England, northern France, and the region between Bergen and Trondheim in western Norway. The book proposes that most of these workshops are related to ecclesiastical networks, as well as secular trade in the North Sea, which became an important economic factor to western Icelandic society in the fourteenth century. The book thereby contributes to a new and multidisciplinary area of research that studies not only one but several European cultures in relation to similar domestic artistic monuments and relevant historical evidence. It offers a detailed account of this cultural site in relation to its scribal and artistic connections with other ecclesiastical and secular scriptoria in the broader North Atlantic region.
List of Illustrations, Notes on Terminology, Abbreviations, and Images, Acknowledgements
Introduction: The Helgafell Manuscripts
Chapter 1: An Anaysis of Medieval Icelandic Manuscript Cultures
Chapter 2: Helgafell: An Augustinian House of Canons Regular in Western Iceland
- Helgafell in the Thirteenth Century
- Personal Contacts
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 233 a fol. (ff. 1–12 and ff. 27–28)
- Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, AM 350 fol. (Skarðsbók)
- The Network of the ‘Helgafell Master’
- The Book Painting of AM 350 fol. (Skarðsbók)
- The Historiated Initials of AM 350 fol. (Skarðsbók)
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 226 fol.
- Magnús Þórhallsson, Illuminator of AM 226 fol.
- The Art of Magnús Þórhallsson
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 239 fol.
- The Illuminations of AM 239 fol.
- Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket, MS Isl. Perg. fol. 5
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 325 X 4to & AM 325 VIII 3a 4to
- Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket, MS Isl. Perg. 4:o 34
- Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, AM 347 fol. (Belgsdalsbók)
- The Book Painting of AM 347 fol. (Belgsdalsbók)
- Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, AM 219 fol.
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 73 b fol. (Bæjarbók á Rauðasandi)
- Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, AM 383 IV 4to
- Manuscripts and Fragments Written by H Hel 2
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 61 fol.
- Planned Images in AM 61 fol.
- Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, AM 653 a 4to & JS fragm 7
- Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, AM 156 4to
- Planned Images in AM 156 4to
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 238 VII fol.
- Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar í íslenskum fræðum, SÁM 1 (Codex Scardensis)
- The Book Painting of SÁM 1 (Codex Scardensis)
- Copenhagen, Den Arnamagnæanske Samling, AM 233 a fol. (Ff. 15–27)
- The Book Painting of AM 233 a fol. (ff. 15–27)
- The Production of GKS 1154 fol. (Codex Hardenbergianus; Copenhagen, Det Kongelige Bibliotek)
- Artistic East Anglian Influences on Codex Hardenbergianus
- East Anglian Iconography at Þingeyrar
- The Influence of Norwich Book Painting at Helgafell
- England and Western Iceland in the Fourteenth Century
- English Artistic Trade with Bergen (and Helgafell)
Conclusion: Helgafell and the Wider North-Atlantic World