Close XYL-26 Limperger, Tilman: Bishop Tilman Limperger praying before St Augustine

 [Switzerland (Basel?), c.1498]. Woodcut with Latin inscription, possibly attributable to Master DS.

 To the left, in the foreground, a kneeling figure in prayer, wearing a bishop’s mitre and robes, and identified by the initials ‘·F·T·E·T’ (presumably ‘Frater Telamonius Episcopus Tripolitanus’) as Tilman Limperger OESA (fl. 1491–1534), from 3 Dec. 1498 Suffragan Bishop of Basel and Titular Bishop of Tripoli. To the right, supported by a bishop’s crozier, a shield with the arms of Tripoli (three castles) quartered with those of the Limperger (river and star) surmounted by a mitre. In the upper right-hand corner, appearing in the clouds, a second mitred figure with a halo carrying a bishop’s crozier, representing St Augustine. Bishop Tilman’s prayer to St Augustine is inscribed on a banderole: ‘ORA·P(ro)·ME·B(eat)E·P(ate)R· AVG(ustine)·’. In the bottom right-hand corner the date ‘1498’. Possibly to be identified, on stylistic grounds, as an early woodcut of Master DS; see Hieronymus, Basler Buchillustration 1500–1545, 1 no. 2. For Master DS see F. Hieronymus, in The Dictionary of Art, ed. J. Turner, vol. 20 (London and New York, 1996), 793–4. This attribution was proposed to Albert Ehrman in a letter dated 13 Jan. 1960 by A. Frauendorfer of L’Art ancien in Zurich, now kept together with the Bodleian copy. Earlier attributions, by Gerster to Urs Graf and by Geisberg to Albrecht Dürer, have not found acceptance. One of three known copies. The one first reported by Gerster, ‘Ein altes Kleeblatt’, was found pasted inside the upper board of a volume that had originally belonged to a Swiss monastery (presumably Engelberg), at that time in the possession of a chaplain in the Melchtal (a short distance to the west of Engelberg), after whose death the book is said to have been returned to the Engelberg library. A further copy is the impression on a typographic broadside in the Newberry Library, Chicago, where it accompanies a Latin poem by Tilman Limperger in honour of St Augustine and thus serves as an author portrait: Tilman Limperger, In doctorem ecclesiae sanctum Augustinum (Basel: Jakob Wolff, not before 1498); Goff, L-222. For Tilman Limperger, see Helvetia Sacra, I/1 (Bern, 1972), 229; I/2 (Basel, 1993), 514–5. In what context this woodcut was originally intended to commemorate the bishop and his devotion to the patron of his order is not clear, for its use as an author portrait on the broadside would appear, on the basis of parallels, to be secondary. A document relating to the Dominican convent of St Maria Magdalena von den Steinen in Basel records a comparable image of Bishop Tilman, with coat of arms and a similar inscription, no longer extant, in a stained-glass window; see F. Maurer, Die Kunstdenkmäler des Kantons Basel-Stadt, vol. IV (Basel, 1961), 306. The further use of such commemorative images is attested by a woodcut of Balthasar Brennwald OP, from 1494 Suffragan Bishop of Chur and Titular Bishop of Troy, dated 1502, discussed and illustrated by Gerster, ‘Ein altes Kleeblatt’, 83–6. Both the Engelberg and Broxbourne/Bodleian copies have traditionally been interpreted as ex-libris.

ills. L. Gerster, ‘Ein altes Kleeblatt’, Schweizerische Blätter für Ex Libris-Sammler, ed. E. Stickelberger, 2 (1902/3), 81–6, at 82 (Engelberg copy); [Gerster], ‘Anfänge schweizerischer Bibliothekszeichen’, 1. Jahrbuch des Ex libris-Club “Basilea” (Basel, 1903), 15–20, inserted between pp. 18/19; E. Stickelberger, Das Exlibris (Bibliothekszeichen) in der Schweiz und in Deutschland (Basel, 1904), 30 fig. 11; Gerster, ‘Ein altes Holzschnittblatt von 1498’, Archives héraldiques suisses: Organe de la Société Suisse d’Héraldique (Zurich, 1913), 140–2 fig. 105; G. Amweg, Les Ex-libris de l’ancien évêché de Bâle (Jura Bernois) (Neuchâtel, 1932), 15; Schramm XXI pl. 137 ill. 796; M. Geisberg, Geschichte der deutschen Graphik vor Dürer, Forschungen zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte, 32 (Berlin, 1939), pl. 54 (Chicago copy); W. R. Staehelin, ‘Tilman Limperger, Weihbischof von Basel 1498–1527’, Der Schweizer Familienforscher: Le Généalogiste Suisse, 14 (1947), 26–9, at 28 (Engelberg copy); A. Ehrman, ‘The Earliest Dated Woodcut Bookplate’, The Book Collector, 8 (1959), 426–7 and plate (Broxbourne/Bodleian copy); V. Lieber, Les Ex-libris genevois. Catalogue des ex-libris imprimés des familles reçues à la bourgeoisie de Genève avant 1792 (Nyon, 2002), ill. 1.

refs. Gerster, ‘Ein altes Kleeblatt’, 81–3; Gerster, ‘Anfänge’, 19–20; Stickelberger, Das Exlibris, 28; Gerster, ‘Holzschnittblatt’, 140–2; Amweg, Les Ex-libris de l’ancien évêché de Bâle, 14 no. 12; A. M. W. Wegmann, Schweizer Exlibris bis zum Jahre 1900 (Zurich, 1933–7), I 26 no. 288; Schramm XXI 24 and 28; Geisberg, Geschichte der deutschen Graphik, 152; Ehrman, ‘The Earliest Dated Woodcut Bookplate’; Hieronymus, Basler Buchillustration 1500–1545, 1 no. 2; F. Eisermann, Verzeichnis der typographischen Einblattdrucke des 15. Jahrhunderts im Heiligen Römischen Reich Deutscher Nation (VE 15) (Wiesbaden 2004), L-63.

copy Chancery quarter-sheet. 195 × 153 mm (woodcut 142 × 103 mm). Chain-lines horizontal. Printed in black ink in a press on one side of the paper. No watermark. The upper and lower left-hand corners slightly rounded, indicating that the leaf once formed part of a volume in 4o. The alignment of the paper shows that it cannot be a cut-out from the typographic broadside from the press of Jakob Wolff, as this is printed on a chancery half-sheet. Removed in the earlier twentieth century from an unidentified volume, where it is said to have been pasted inside the upper board.

refs. Ehrman, ‘The Earliest Dated Woodcut Bookplate’.

Binding: Kept in a brown cloth-covered portfolio made for the Broxbourne Library, inscribed ‘ex libris telamonius limberger 1498’.

Provenance: Albert Ehrman (1890–1969); armorial book-plate; purchased from A. L. van Gendt, Amsterdam, in 1955 (cat. no. 93) for £25; ledger no. ‘R 1365’. Presented in 1978 by John Ehrman.

shelfmark: Broxb. 95.28.