Royal associations were an undoubted bonus for a calligraphic manuscript on vellum and paper of Martin Luther’s 16th century German translation of the Psalter offered in a recent sale.
Sold at £28,000 by Gorringe’s (21% buyer’s premium) of Lewes, East Sussex, it was made in Oldenburg in 1634 by the painter and calligrapher Johannes Kirchring the Younger and bears a dedication to Princess Juliana of Hesse- Darmstadt, the wife of Count Ulrich II of East Fresia.
Over its 112 leaves it displays various Fraktur scripts in black, silver and gold within a variety of elaborate borders, along with micrographic text, mirror writing, verses in a maze-like composition and all manner of other decorative work.
The contemporary binding is one of velvet-covered wooden boards with silver clasps. On a later, 19th century flyleaf, it also bears the signature of Princess Victoria Adelaide, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and wife of Frederick III of Prussia.
Kirchring’s father, Johannes the Elder, born in Riga, is regarded as one of the finer calligraphic artists of the age.
In 2010 at Christie’s an example of his earlier work on the same text that also featured summaries and prayers by Nicolaus Selneccer, a leading figure in the Lutheran Church, sold for £125,000.
Beautifully illuminated, sumptuously bound and billed as a masterpiece of calligraphy and micrography, it would seem to have been a manuscript with which the elder Kirchring first secured the valuable patronage of Johann VII of Oldenburg.