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the book of the end of the world
Il Bulino, Modena, 1999 - Bibliteca Estense Universitaria alfa.D.5.22
The book of the End of the World
The codex is known as the Estense Apocalypse. It is a xylographic book, printed in brown ink, circa 1460, from the Dutch or Rhine region. The images are all hand coloured and therefore the codex is considered to be unique. It consists of 48 sheets, of which 44 are divided into two scenes while 4 show single scenes. Each plate is edged by a line that serves as both a frame and a border separating the scenes. The images are printed and coloured on the recto of the sheet while the verso is blank. In the 19th century the plates were detached, trimmed and glued to 22 × 29 cm sheets. The order of the plates, for the first time in this kind of codex, respects the biblical text and so increases the originality of the work. The block-cut Latin writing, in medium-large letters, is arranged in scrolls or freely outlines the figures, blending together with them perfectly, almost anticipating modern comics.
The apocalyptic imagery
The suggestive imagery of the Apocalypse was always an inviting source of inspiration for predication, astrology and for artists such as Memling, Albrecht Dürer and the medieval illuminators of the Beatus of Liébana. Our Apocalypse appears similar in style to the Bibliae Pauperum realized in the German area in the same period, and not too distant from the teachings of the Flemish school of the early 1400s; at the same time it seems to project itself towards models and moments of religious life still in gestation. In many scenes the engraver-painter shows neither respect nor pity for the faults of the clergy, a kind of prelude to the reformed rebellions that were to shake the Germanic world and the whole of Europe.
The unabridged edition of the Estense Apocalypse, presented by Arturo Carlo Quintavalle at the Estense Library, has been realized according to Il Bulino’s qualitative principles with the aim of producing a perfect facsimile of the original. The worn out 1900s binding in half leather and cardboard has now been substituted by a calfskin binding, especially made for the restoration of the original and this edition. The 96 page Italian commentary by Ernesto Milano is half leather bound. This world exclusive edition is limited to 999 certified copies numbered from 1 to 980 and I to XIX. Codex, commentary and certificate of authenticity are boxed together.