Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear. Object Recognition and Automatic Comparison of the Sachsenspiegel Codices

The stylistic and semantic changes of four dependent illumination cycles are analysed by automatic mapping and art historic interpretation.

Cultural heritage consists not only of innovations but also of their reproductions and variations. Therefore it is crucial to evaluate the quality of these reproductions of art as well as their stylistic and semantic changes. Especially the manuscript culture of the Middle Ages flourished through manual reproductions. A prominent example is the frequently reproduced codex of Eike von Repgow’s Sachsenspiegel, which has been composed between 1220-1235 in eastern Saxony. It constitutes an outstanding piece of medieval cultural history. Eike von Repgow’s text is one of the oldest prose works written in German and the earliest German vernacular law book and thus one of the most important monuments in the history of German law.

Only four illustrated versions of the text have been preserved, these Codices picturati from the 14th century are named after their present location in Heidelberg (H), Dresden (D), Wolfenbüttel (W), and Oldenburg (0). The focus of the project is to introduce a computer-based methodology for measuring and analyzing the variability between compositions of complete scenes and individual objects of these different manuscripts.

Ministry of Science, Research and Art (MWK), Baden-Württemberg.

Link to project website.

Name and contact of project responsible(s):

Prof. B. Ommer (Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing, Heidelberg University)


Peter Bell, Joseph Schlecht, and Björn Ommer,
Nonverbal Communication in Medieval Illustrations Revisited by Computer Vision and Art History, Visual Resources Journal (Special Issue on Digital Art History) 29(1):26-­‐37, Taylor and Francis, 2013

Antonio Monroy, Peter Bell, and Björn Ommer,
Shaping Art with Art: Morphological Analysis for Investigating Artistic Reproductions, in: ECCV’12 (VISART), Springer, 2012.