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Two manuscripts added to list of Flemish Masterworks

Two early modern manuscripts from the collection of the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library have been added to the register of official Flemish Masterworks (‘topstukkenlijst’). The Minister for Culture recognizes the importance of these books for Flemish cultural history.

Manuscript emblem book by Guilielmus Hesius

The Antwerp Jesuit Guilielmus Hesius (Willem van Hees, 1601-1690) was a key figure in the culture of the Low Countries in the late seventeenth century. He was one of the last representatives of the uomo universale type, like Leonardo da Vinci or Athanasius Kircher. He was active as an architect, mathematician and astronomer, as administrator of several departments of his order, and also as a poet and draughtsman.

Emblemata or emblem books were a very very popular genre in the seventeenth century. They consist of text and images, a combination of a motto, an allegorical drawing and a poem that invites the reader to reflect. In the case of Hesius' emblem book, all subjects revolve around the theme of “Faith, Hope and Love”. Handwritten emblem books are extremely rare: most were distributed as printed books, and often became very popular. Hesius also had his emblem book printed in 1636, twelve years after he had started his manuscript.

Discover the emblem book by Guilielmus Hesius online

The History of the Bishops of Antwerp by Petrus Henricus Goos

Like Hesius, Peter Henricus Goos (+ 1725) was a clergyman. He was attached to the Cathedral of Our Lady as a canon, and at the end of the seventeenth century began a manuscript on the history of the city and the diocese of Antwerp, titled Encronologium episcoporum, decanorum et canonicorum Cathedralis Basilicae Marianae Antverpiensis. With its exceptional size (58 by 44 cm in two volumes), hand-drawn illustrations and coloured maps, it is an impressive manuscript. The Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library was able to acquire this remarkable work in 2017 thanks to the mediation of Bernaerts Auctioneers and the financial support of the Maria-Elisabeth Belpaire Foundation.

Both volumes of the Encronologium have been digitized: volume 1 and volume 2.