Item #4321 An illustrated calligraphic manuscript. Hans Rudolf GUJER.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
An illustrated calligraphic manuscript.
Volk art

An illustrated calligraphic manuscript. Wermatswil, Switzerland, 1750.

Folio (335 x 210 mm). [37] leaves, complete. Calligraphic manuscript on paper, in German, written on rectos only, in landscape format, in variously colored inks and watercolor, with occasional use of gouache, including seven large original drawings, of which one in pen-and-ink and six in ink and watercolor; three pages of alphabets (fols. [1], [35] and [36]), most pages with 3 compartments including ornately decorated capital initials, floral, figurative and abstract ornamental borders and infills throughout, one page with music (a hymn in 4 parts), and one with micrography. Watermark of shield framed by fleur-de-lis containing the initial J or I (134 x 105 mm.). Condition: 2 leaves with drawings smudged by waterstaining, marginal fraying, about 10 leaves with short closed mostly marginal tears, a few small internal tears or holes from acidic black ink, small adhesions at edge of fol. [8] (Samson drawings), 4 leaves with old patches on versos (fol. [1]v patched with a 19th- or early 20th-century newspaper fragment), some chipping to edges, occasional spotting & fingersoiling. Bound in contemporary laminated boards covered with two different floral wallpapers, except for a portion of front cover, showing old speckled calf or roan, one of the papers used for turn-ins, edges untrimmed, 3 blank flyleaves (including free endleaf) at front and back; covers very rubbed. Provenance: full-page colophon of the calligrapher on last leaf: Von Mir geschriben / Hans Rudolf guier / Zu Wermet-schweil: / 1750, with marginal calligraphic addition noting his age at the time of writing: mein alter war 20 Jahr.***

A colorful, inventive and masterfully executed calligraphic display book by a 20-year old artist from rural Switzerland, combining striking layouts with an imaginative use of letterforms and whimsical and delicately colored drawings.

Exuberantly naive, this captivating folk art manuscript was signed and dated by the artist-calligrapher, Hans Rudolf Gujer, of Wetterswill (approx. 20 km east of Zürich). Gujer was a relative, perhaps a son,  of the celebrated “philosopher farmer” Jacob Gujer, who became famous for successfully applying modern agricultural discoveries to rescue an indebted family farm. He was portrayed in 1761 as the archetypal wise peasant in Die Wirtschaft eines philosophischen Bauer by the Zürich city physician Hans Caspar Hirzel. Although Jacob welcomed the likes of Goethe, Lavater, and Mirabeau, the Gujers were a peasant family, although a well-off one (Dictionnaire Historique de Suisse, art. “Gujer”), and they remained farmers for a few more generations.

The German texts of the album are religious: biblical quotations, prayers, and other devotional texts. The spelling varies and does not always reflect modern usage. Other than the opening leaf, containing two simple ornamental alphabets in ink, and fol. [11], containing text only, every page is filled with color and unbridled (though carefully planned) ornamentation. 24 pages have a similar layout, with the main text in a large compartment filling the right-hand side of the page, and a large ornamental Fraktur initial at top left (or, in fol. [5], a drawing), usually with dense pen-and-ink work, and a small compartment containing a prayer at bottom left. Within this layout the styles and colors of the initials and the borders vary widely. The ornamental borders include stylized plants, animals, angels, and abstract motifs. One page is entirely in red, and one in red and black, while the others use multiple colors. For the main texts Gujer used a chancery cursive (Kanzleischrift), a neat Kurrentschrift or a rounded gothic script, with the first or first and second lines in flourished or ornamented gothic or Fraktur lettering. There are several instances of literally fractured letters, in which different parts of the letters are drawn with a different vertical axis, creating a step-like pattern.

Besides the leaves with drawings, treated below, the other leaves include: f. [12], in which the ornamental initial occupies the full height of the page; f. [15], containing 5 texts in 5 compartments; fol. [18], a puzzle in variously arrayed and interlocking red capitals (probably “Als Hoechst in der Welt”); fol. [22], a prayer written within a large circular compartment framed in ornamental borders with a line of circular text, flanked by angels, above a roof with two small pennants; fol. [30], a tabernacle-like design containing at center a spiral of micrographic script; and fol. [35], an ornate flourished Fraktur alphabet in red ink, set out in checkerboard style, flanking a central text in four compartments.

Drawings:
In fol. [5] the large initial contains a pen-and-ink drawing of the Fall: flanking a column-like apple tree is Adam, sporting an oddly long and prominent phallus, and a full-bellied Eve, who plucks an apple while the snake (shaped rather like a carrot) looks on impassively.

Fol. [8] is divided into two equal compartments outlined in red and yellow with drawings in pen-and-ink and watercolor (yellow, red and green) showing scenes from the life of Samson: on the left, Samson killing the lion (Judges 14.5-6), and on the right, Samson carrying away the gates of Gaza (Judges 16.3). At top are two lines of explanatory text (not from the Luther Bible); the compartments containing the drawings are flanked by columnar ornaments each topped by a heart and smiling woman’s head.

Fol. [18] follows a similar format, and the same colors are used. Both drawings relate to prophecies. The drawing on the left shows the prophet Joel, with the Temple(?) in the background. On the right is Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, (Daniel, Book 7), signifying his revelation of the four kingdoms (as the German caption puts it).

Fol. [33] displays the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) in a colorful double ogival arch-window on the left; on the right is shown the violation of the Fourth Commandment, with the Golden Calf, shown on a pedastal, and Moses breaking the tablets (at the foot of the drawing is a quotation from Exodus 32.19, in slightly garbled Latin: “Projecit de manu Tabulaus Aconfregitas ad radicem montis,” and German). The drawing is partly obscured by a dampstain.

Fol. [34] is in two compartments: on the left are the music and words for a psalm, in four compartments, one for each voice, Discantius, Altus, Tennorus and Bassus (apparently each sang solo in turn); incipit: “Ich war der kleinste meiner Brüder...” On the right is a large drawing of the Archangel Michael holding a spear in his right hand and (presumably) scale in his left hand, shown in a marvelous geometrically drawn tunic and armor(?) in pen-and-ink and gray wash; to his left is a man in yellow outlined in red (his face smudged), holding a large plant in one hand and a slingshot in the other. The right side of the drawing, which may be unfinished, is soiled and the man’s face is smudged.

Item #4321

Price: $30,000.00