Saturday, 17 April 2021

The Provenance of a 14th-century Apocalypse in French (BL, Yates Thompson MS 10)


In 2010 I contributed the provenance section to a commentary volume that accompanies a facsimile of London, BL, Yates Thompson MS 10, a  illuminated Apocalypse manuscript written in French with 70 miniatures, datable to about 1360-80, of which one is shown above. [1]

The purpose of this blogpost is to summarise very briefly the provenance as I was able to establish it; to make one correction; and to make one addition.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Illuminated Leaves and Cuttings From the Collection of Rodolphe Kann

The only complete list of the leaves and cuttings in the collection is:

Édouard Rahir, Catalogue of the Rodolphe Kann Collection, Objets d’art, I: Middle Age and Renaissance (Paris, 1907), nos. 74-87

For this reason, the items are listed below in order of the Rahir catalogue, using its numbering.

The only art-historical study of a large part the collection is:

W. Suida, ‘Italian Miniature Paintings from the Rodolphe Kann Collection’, Art in America: An Illustrated Quarterly, 35 (1947), 19–33

The vast majority were exhibited at the LA County Museum in 1953-54:

Los Angeles: Mediaeval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts: A Loan Exhibition, November 25, 1953–January 9, 1954, Los Angeles County Museum (Los Angeles, 1953)

One miniature and one initial were bought in 1963 by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where they remain.

Several initials were bought by Denys Sutton in 1963, and sold from his collection at Christie's, 4 June 2008, lots 30-34.

The residue of the collection was bought by Norton Simon in 1965, of which a few were donated elsewhere, a few have been kept; the rest were sold at Sotheby's, 8 July 1974, lots 18-24.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

The Dispersal of the Collection of Rodolphe Kann [III]: The Illuminations

In a post a few week ago we saw that Rodolphe Kann's art collection was inherited by his son, Edouard, and then sold in 1907 to a partnership of Duveen Brothers and Nathan Wildenstein (whose business partner was René Gimpel, discussed here). Rodolphe Kann's illuminated codices may be the subject of a future blogpost (several are now at the Morgan Library), but for now I am interested in the single leaves and cuttings. 

These illuminations were sold en bloc to Arabella Huntington, the fabulously wealthy widow of the railway magnate Collis P. Huntington (d. 1900) and future wife of Collis's nephew, Henry E. Huntington. When she died in 1924, they were inherited by her son, Archer Huntington, who in 1930 sold them back to Duveen Brothers. 

Saturday, 27 March 2021

An Avignon Collective Indulgence of the 1330s?

This week I thought I would expand upon a recent series of tweets on Twitter, as it relates to several of my interests, including copies/forgeries and the examination of physical evidence.

In November last year, Jean-Luc Deuffic tweeted about a forthcoming auction:

He provided a link to the auction site, which shows the full document (though the image resolution is not as high as I would like):

I replied that I thought it had to be a modern copy, and gave a couple of reasons:

Saturday, 13 March 2021

One More Montbaston Bible Historiale Cutting


In previous posts (especially here, but also here, and here) I have discussed cuttings from a 14th-century Bible historiale with miniatures attributed to Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, who who worked in Paris in the second quarter of the 14th century. At least two or three of them were previously owned by Robert Forrer.

In this post I observed that a significant number of items in the 1921 sale of the collection of Rudolf Busch of Mainz had previously belonged to Forrer. Looking at the Busch catalogue again I noticed the cutting shown above.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

A Byzantine Miniature on a Leaf from the Forrer Collection

A forthcoming Koller sale has a leaf from a copy of the Gospels in Greek, with the above miniature (24 March, lot 503). 

As the catalogue description expains, the parent manuscript is now Chicago, University Library, MS 129 (de Ricci, Census, I, p. 568). It preserves one miniature, and a colophon from which we know that it was written by Nikolas of Edessa in 1133. 

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Catalogues of Old Master Drawings


I have always enjoyed trawling auction catalogues for medieval manuscripts. Sometimes an entire catalogue is dedicated to medieval manuscripts, but more commonly a few medieval items are are listed together with later manuscripts, and/or printed books; sometimes there is only a single medieval leaf or cutting among hundreds of other items. The same applies to medieval manuscripts in the catalogues of rare book dealers; there are very few dealers in any generation who devote entire catalogues to medieval manuscripts.

When you find a medieval item in a catalogue that is mostly filled with other things, one of two situations typically applies. The most common situation is that the item is something very uninteresting, such as a leaf from a mediocre Book of Hours or choirbook. In a tiny minority of cases, however, you can find somethign much more interesting, and because it is hidden among lots of non-medieval material, it is likely to have been overlooked by most other medievalists. It is these discoveries that makes the hours of fruitless page-turning worthwhile.

It was only relatively late -- about four or five years ago -- that I realised how often medieval illuminated leaves and cuttings can also be found in auction and dealer catalogues of Old Master Drawings  -- a type of catalogue that I had previously ignored. This post provides a few examples.