Tueurdank by Maximilian I with 118 woodcuts by artists trained by Durer.

Die Geuerlicheiten und Einsteils der Geschichten des loblichen streytbaren und hochberumbten Helds und Ritters herr Tewrdannckhs, or The adventures and a portion of the story of the praiseworthy, valiant, and high-renowned hero and knight, Lord Tewrdannckh, is a chivalrous romance first published in Germany in 1517. The Abbotsford copy is the second edition, printed two years later in Augsburg.

The text is an allegorical poem, written in rhyming couplets, concerning the adventures of Maximilian I (1459-1519), Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany, as he travels to the Netherlands to claim his bride, Mary of Burgundy. It is said to be written by Maximilian himself, probably in collaboration with his chaplain Melchior Pfintzing.

The design of this book with its 118 woodcuts and highly ornamental typeface has been described as one of the triumphs of the German Renaissance. The illustrations were produced by a team of artists: Leonard Beck, Dürer's pupil Hans Schaüfelein, and Hans Burgkmair. The drawings they produced were engraved by Jost Dienecker of Antwerp.

The typeface, an early version of Fraktur, was especially commissioned by Maximilian himself. Maximilian was a follower of medieval ideals but also a 'modernist' and a patron of art, science and humanism. He employed the modern technology of printing but insisted on a traditional font with large flourishes that is often mistaken for manuscript. It is easy to see a parallel with Scott, who designed a medieval castle for himself and installed the latest gas lighting.

Not only is the book itself a work of art, but so is the cover. It is bound in oak boards which have been covered in blind-stamped leather and decorated with brass clasps and bosses. This highly elaborate design, consisting of heads in medallions, biblical scenes and mythological figures, is produced by a brass roll used to impress a continuous repeating pattern with six different images. One of the images is signed K.B., almost certainly the initials of the binder. We have not yet been able to discover who this is.


Tueurdank Engraving

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Tueurdank Binding