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A Spiritual Shield. The Munich Prayer Book of the Chancellor of Lithuania Albertus Gastold

22 June–16 September 2022
Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Exhibition Patrons  
Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania ​Ingrida Šimonytė
Minister-President of the Free State of Bavaria Dr. Markus Söder
 
Prayer Book owner 
University Library of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
 
Exhibition organisers
National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania (Vilnius)
University Library of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (Bavaria, Germany)
 
Exhibition Partners 
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the Federal Republic of Germany
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Lithuania

 

This exhibition features a single masterpiece – the prayer book commissioned by the Lithuanian Chancellor Albertus Gastold and created by the Krakow master Stanislaus Claratumbensis in 1528, written in Polish and with a preface in Latin.

The person who commissioned this prayer book was one of the most famous and influential statesmen of Lithuania of all time, a long-serving head of the government of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and a staunch defender of state independence, the Lithuanian Grand Chancellor and Palatine of Vilnius, Albertus Gastold (ca 1480–1539). It was a long-held belief, albeit erroneous, that the owner of the prayer book could have been the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund the Old (1467–1548). When the Gastold line ended, the prayer book could have indeed ended up with the rulers of Poland and Lithuania, the Jagiellons and Vasas. The prayer book may have found its way to Bavaria as part of the rich dowry of the duchess of Poland and Lithuania, Anna Catherine Constance Vasa, when she married the Count Palatine of Neuburg Philip William Wittelsbach. Today, the prayer book of the Lithuanian Chancellor Albertus Gastold, one of the most valuable manuscript books still existing, is kept in the Rare Prints Department of the University Library of the Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich.

The prayer book of the Lithuanian Chancellor Albertus Gastold was created by one of the most famous Polish artists of the first half of the 16th century, Stanislaus Claratumbensis (Pol. Stanisław Samostrzelnik, ca 1480–1541), a monk from the Cistercian Mogiła Abbey. The prayer book was written on high-quality sheets of parchment and features 16 masterfully executed miniatures, each covering an entire page, created based on the engravings of the most eminent artists of the day (e.g., Lucas Cranach the Elder, Albrecht Altdorfer). The decorations in the prayer book created by the master Stanislaus Claratumbensis and his assistants reveals a harmony of stylistic elements taken from the Gothic and the burgeoning Renaissance. The commissioner Albertus Gastold is depicted twice in the prayer book, while the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund the Old appears but once.

The prayer book of the Lithuanian Chancellor Albertus Gastold is a genuine historic relic, one of the most unique Lithuania-related treasures to have been preserved for around 500 years, one that dates back to the age of prosperity of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and evokes one of the most famous Lithuanian statesmen. This highly valuable manuscript book is certainly worthy of a one-masterpiece exhibition, in terms of its historic and artistic significance. The exhibition is dedicated to mark the 700th anniversary of the city of Vilnius, as Albertus Gastold was a long-serving Palatine of Vilnius – the second most important figure in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the ruler.

Exhibition curators 
Doc dr. Vydas Dolinskas, dr. Sven Kuttner
 

The exhibition commemorates the 700th anniversary of Vilnius.