Johannes Simon Holtzbecker (1610-20 - 1671), Gottorfer Codex, 1649-1659
What is the Gottorfer Codex?
The Gottorfer Codex consists of four large books filled with flower paintings. Each volume has around one hundred pages with approx. three paintings on each page. So there are around 1200 flower paintings in all.
The paintings are of a very high quality and seem to a very large extent to have been based on real flowers. Their details are so realistic that botanists in most cases have been able to identify every plant precisely.
A precious work
The Gottorfer Codex is a very precious work. Today of course, it’s priceless, but even when it was produced in the 17th century it was very precious. Only very wealthy princes could afford such a comprehensive and precious work.
Gottorp Castle in Slesvig
The Gottorfer Codex originates from the library at Gottorp Castle in Slesvig, hence the name. Codex is merely the old, latin word for a book. The flower paintings documented the duke of Gottorp’s famous flower garden right outside the castle. In the 17th century it was the most famous of its kind in Northern Germany.
How did the Gottorfer Codex end up in the Royal Collection of Graphic Art?
The books were part of the spoil of war after the Great Northern War in the beginning of the 18th century. Danish troops occupied the duchy Gottorp in 1713 and after the peace in 1720, Gottorp was included in the Danish kingdom. Both the famous cabinet of curiosities on Gottorp Castle as well as the comprehensive library (of which the Gottorper Codex was a part) were sent to Copenhagen. The Gottorper Codex became part of the Royal Library. When the Royal Collection of Graphic Art was separated from the Royal Library in the 19th century, the Gottorper Codex came with it.