7 April, 1512. Nuremberg. Hieronymus Holtzel for Caspar Rosentaler in Schwaz. In 4to (214 mm x 147 mm). 106 ff., including 57 woodcuts by Wolf Traut. A fine copy, with all the woodcuts in contemporary hand colouring and heightened with gold. Dark brown morocco gilt by Lortic, edges gilt, just lightly rubbed.
First German edition and a remarkable contemporary coloured copy of the Legenda major beati Francisci, a masterpiece of German illustration, written by the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor and Doctor of the Church, Saint Bonaventure (1221 – 1274), in 1260 and declared the only authentic biography of Saint Francis by the General Chapter in Paris in 1266. Saint Bonaventure ranks high as a Doctor of the Church, and one of the foremost philosophers and scholastic theologians of the middle ages.
Die Legende des heyligen vatters Francisci was printed by Holtzel on behalf and at the expense of the Tyrolean benefactor of the Franciscan church in Schwaz, Caspar Rosenthaler. Holtzel was active as a printer in Nuremberg since 1499. In 1511 he printed Durer´s Life of Mary and employed as illustrators for his printings Durer´s foremost collaborators, such as Hans Baldung Grien, Hans von Kulmbach and Wolf Traut who was commissioned with the illustration of the present book. It ranks among Traut´s graphic masterpieces; some are dated, however non are signed.
A rare book to find complete (last copy recorded Sotheby´s 1993, 5,175 GBP, to Quaritch), not to mention a copy with this spectacular colouring, heightened profusely with gold.
Provenance: bookplates of Ambroise Firmin Didot (1790 – 1876), William Davignon (1867 – 1924), and Jean Furstenberg (1890 – 1982).
Ruh, Bonaventura deutsch (1956), p. 248- einhorn, Die Holzchnitte des Wolf Traut zur “Legend des heyligen vatters Francisci” nach Bonaventura, Nurenmberg, 1512 (Franziskanische Studien vol. 60 (1978) pp. 1-24. Dodgson, German and Flemish, I, 502-503, no. 1.