It is especially fortunate that soon after he began to collect books, Prince Elector Augustus employed the best German bookbinder of the Renaissance, Jakob Krause (1526/27-1585). Born in Zwickau in Saxony, Krause apparently continued his training in Wittenberg and then in France, after completing his bookbinding apprenticeship. He worked several years for the famous Fugger merchant family in Augsburg, then moved to Dresden in 1566. There he created -- in just a few years -- more than 1,000 sumptuous bindings in vellum, pigskin, or calf, distinguished by careful workmanship and rich ornamentation. His bindings were basically of a German (Wittenberg) style, but showed Italian, French and oriental influences, which Krause fused into a style of his own.
As apprentice and successor to Krause, Capar Meuser (1550-1593) worked in the court bindery. He continued to use his master's panels, but developed his own style, typified by vines covering the surfaces. An especially beautiful example of Meuser's skill is the heart-shaped prayer book for Princess Anne, the wife of Prince Elector Augustus.
Saxony was home to accomplished bookbinders other than the court binders, Krause and Meuser. One was Urban Köblitz, from whose shop the Library has a colorful and richly ornamented volume dating to 1574.
Binding by Jakob Krause, with Electoral coat of arms
Shortly after Elector Augustus began collecting books, he hired Jakob Krause, one of the best Renaissance bookbinders. Krause (1526/27-1585) was born in Zwickau. After completing his apprenticeship, he studied in Wittenberg and France, then served as a binder to the house of Fugger in Augsburg. In 1566 he came to Dresden, where he produced more than 1,000 magnificent bindings and purchased books for the Elector at trade fairs in Frankfurt and Leipzig. Krause's bindings are distinguished by meticulous workmanship and rich decorations which incorporate French, Italian, and oriental motifs.
Author unknown Division Tables Ca. 1570, part 2, cover Gilt-embossed leather (70)
Binding by Urban Köblitz
With the richly ornamental and colorful binding of this volume, Urban Köblitz demonstrates that he was among the outstanding bookbinders in Saxony, along with Jakob Krause and Caspar Meuser. We only know that he worked in Dresden and later in Leipzig.
Simon Paul Postilla Magdeburg, 1572, cover Painted, gilt-embossed leather (71)
Deluxe edition bound by Jacob Krause, with the coat of arms of the Elector of Saxony
This binding is by Jakob Krause, 1582. Dark brown calfskin over paper boards features gilt Moorish floral decoration and the electoral arms in the mandorla.
Caspar Peucer Das fünfte Buch der Chronica Carionis (The Fifth Book of the Chronicles of Carion) Dresden, 1576, cover Gilt-embossed calfskin (73)
An unusual heart-shaped binding by Caspar Meuser
Caspar Meuser (1550-1593) was an apprentice of Jakob Krause, serving from 1574 as his successor in the court bindery. He used the panels and stamps designed by Krause, but evolved his own style, characterized by profuse vinework. This heart-shaped prayer book, designed for Anna, the wife of Elector Augustus, is a particularly fine example of his artistry.
Betbüchlein ür allerlei Anliegen (Small Prayer Book for All Occasions) Ca. 1580, cover Gilt-embossed leather (74)
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