Eighteenth-Century German Devotional Manuscript with Engravings
Matthias Joseph Gerzabeck (fl. 1775).
Himlischer Weeg-Weiser oder Auserlösene krafftig und anmüthige Gebetter.
1775. Manuscript on paper with calligraphic flourishes, signed and dated 1 October 1775 by Matthias Joseph Gerzabeck, with engraved frontispiece and 12 engraved devotional plates by Franz Heissig. (BRMS 167)
This German-language prayer book is elegantly enhanced with highly ornamented gothic calligraphy in black and gold ink and thirteen plates by the Augsburg engraver Franz Heissig (fl. ca. 1750–1800). The text includes prayers for various hours of the day and prayers to several saints; meditations on the ceremonies of Mass, Communion, and Confession; and other religious exercises. Nearly all of the texts are in a cursive hand in brown ink while the title page, following leaf with colophon, headings, initials, tailpieces, and final page are luxuriously presented in gold.
The engravings by Heissig include a frontispiece (on display) portraying St. Joseph of Cupertino levitating among angels and a dozen additional plates bound into the volume facing relevant sections of text. Each with a biblical caption, the twelve illustrations show the Trinity, four scenes from the Passion, the Annunciation, the Nativity, and Saints Joseph, Anne, Barbara, Apollonia, and Catharine. The plates are numbered, although not in sequence, but the original source publication has not been identified. The engravings may have been issued as elements in one or more suites of plates, rather than illustrations for a single printed book.