Freydal ‐ The Tournament Book of Emperor Maximilian I
The Washington Manuscript
A Talk by Stefan Krause, Paul Mellon Visiting Senior Fellow, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
In late medieval and early modern Europe tournament books formed – and recorded – a seminal element of pomp and circumstance. Tournaments were lavishly orchestrated festivities with both social and political significance. The competitions provided a stage for young noblemen to display their chivalry and bravery. Tournament books document in detail ‐ and often in richly illustrated form ‐ the sequence of particular tournaments hosted by a court or an aspiring merchant city.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna owns one of the most important of all tournament books: known as Freydal, it was made for Emperor Maximilian I (1459‐1519) in Southern Germany in 1512‐1515. It consists of 255 (originally 256) coloured drawings depicting jousts, foot combats and court masquerades. Freydal depicts 64 tournaments, each one comprising a Rennen, a Stechen and a foot combat. Every round concluded with a so‐called Mummerey, a courtly masquerade held in the evening after the competition.
Freydal is both artistically and in terms of content a seminal and fascinating work. Quirin von Leitner’s annotated facsimile from the late 19th century is still the most comprehensive study on this highlight of German art from the early 16th century and remains in many respects a valuable source. Nevertheless, Freydal deserves a new in‐depth investigation that will result in a new publication of Freydal – with the additional option of an exhibition focusing on the manuscript and its fascinating story.
In addition to studying the drawings in Vienna, research on various aspects of this manuscript is needed, especially its connection to related material in London, Rome, Augsburg and Vienna. A crucial aspect is the analyses of the Washington manuscript, which could provide unique insights into the development and evolution of this key work of Emperor Maximilian’s propaganda. Both content and structure of the Washington manuscript need to be examined, both in regards to handling and content as well as the character of the inscriptions it contains.
Of seminal importance is a scientific examination of the Washington manuscript, in particular of its paper, ink and paint, and of the glue used to affix the name‐slips.
When: Thursday, December 4, 2014 | 7:30 pm
Where: Austrian Cultural Forum | 3524 International Court NW | Washington, DC, 20008