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An Abecedarium

Illuminated Alphabets from the Court of Emperor Rudolf II

Lee Hendrix and Thea Vignau-Wilberg

Included in the magnificent pages from the Mira calligraphiae monumenta are two alphabets. Executed by an unknown hand, the first consists of Roman capital letters; the other is Gothic lower-case letters. These alphabets were embellished by Joris Hoefnagel, a painter at the court of Rudolf II. In embellishing the two alphabets, Hoefnagel employed symbols and heraldic objects—masks, animals, plants, obelisks—to convey the power and greatness of the emperor.

An Abecedarium contains the thirty-eight pages from the Mira codex that display Hoefnagel's virtuosity in decorating the alphabets. Calligraphers, graphic artists, and those who appreciate beautiful books will delight in Hoefnagel's artistry.

"Page after page of stunning small-scale reproductions."
—World of Interiors


64 pages
5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
38 color illustrations
ISBN 978-0-89236-471-8

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum