Journey from Venice to Palestine, Mount Sinai and Egypt (ca. 1467)

Selected images from a beautifully illustrated account of a journey made from Italy to the Middle East. Although this book (known as Egerton 1900) was purported to reflect a journey made in 1465 by Gabriel Muffel, third son of the Nuremburg patrician Nicholas Muffel, the travelogue is, however, merely a German translation of an account of a journey made more than a century earlier. This actual journey was undertaken by the Franciscan friar Niccolo da Poggibonsi who visited the Holy Land in 1346-50, and wrote up his travels in the Italian book Libro d’oltramare. The work remained untranslated until Muffel got hold of it, also supplying it with 147 miniatures, a selection of which are presented below. The confusion doesn't stop there. Muffel's account was then translated back into Italian, printed at Bologna in 1500. Originally the author was ‘anonymous’ but the account was, in due course, recognised to be that of Niccolo da Poggibonsi, though it was not realised that it was in fact a translation of Muffel's translation of the original. This Bologna 1500 printing enjoyed a huge success with 26 editions being published before 1600. For more on this latter manuscript and how it relates to Egerton 1900 see this page on the British Library site.

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Erik Kwakkel

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