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Das Mittelalter

Perspektiven mediävistischer Forschung

Ed. by Präsidium des Mediävistenverbandes

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Volume 23, Issue 1


Naturmaß, künstlerisches Maß und die Maßlosigkeit ihrer Anwendung. Simplicia in zwei ‚Tractatus de herbis‘-Handschriften des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts

Theresa Holler
  • Corresponding author
  • Universität Bern, Hodlerstr. 8, CH-3012 BernUniversität Bern3012 BernSwitzerland
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Published Online: 2018-06-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mial-2018-0006


On the cusp of the 14th century, a new means of visualizing plants arose in the herbal manuscript tradition of South Italy. Unlike the previous medieval tradition’s stylized plant representations or antique manuscripts with their lifelike representations, these new images are characterized by their similarity to nature and pressed herbs. Based on two ‘Tractatus de herbis’ manuscripts, namely the MS lat. 6823 in Paris and the MS Egerton 747 in London, this article examines such a new form of nature as a measurement for art. The images themselves alternate between naturalistic impressions, fantastic creations, and pure aesthetic pleasure for the beholder. Together with the accompanying medical treatise they address the boundaries between measurements and excessiveness pertaining not only to artifice but also the body, which has come out of the balance of the four humors and therefore has lost its right measure.

Keywords: art; nature; herbal manuscripts; measurement; medicine

About the article

Published Online: 2018-06-19

Published in Print: 2018-06-12

Citation Information: Das Mittelalter, Volume 23, Issue 1, Pages 67–91, ISSN (Online) 2196-6869, ISSN (Print) 0949-0345, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mial-2018-0006.

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