Saturday, 4 December 2021

More Leaves from the Hastière Bible

I recently bought some books about Bohemian illuminated manuscripts, and illuminated cuttings in Bohemian collections, including one about the illuminated leaves, cuttings, and fragments at the National Gallery in Prague, shown above [1]. A few items caught my eye in particular.

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Celotti or Ottley? The Source of the Lomax-Wade Collection [II]

Before accepting any argument as true, even -- or especially -- if my initial inclination is to believe it, my first reaction is always to consider if the opposite argument is tenable. One way of doing this is to think about what sort of evidence would be required to either (i) disprove the argument, or (ii) prove the opposite argument, and then look to see if either sort of evidence exists. [1]

In the present case [discussed in the preceding two blogposts], if we were to take as our working hypothesis that the Lomax-Wade collection consisted exclusively and entirely of cuttings bought by Webster at the Celotti sale (rather than acquisitions from elsewhere, such as the Ottley sale), I can envisage three main ways of disproving this hypothesis. 

One is to find a Celotti-Webster item that was definitely not in the Lomax-Wade collection, but proving a negative is often impossible, and in this case there are too many ambiguous descriptions in both catalogues to state with certainty that an item in former was not in the latter. A second approach would be to identify one or more items in the Lomax-Wade collections that were definitely not in the Celotti sale; but this would be very difficult to prove for similar reasons. A third, much easier approach, which avoids the problem that we do not know the subjects depicted in all the initials in the Celotti sale, is to see whether the number of items bought by Webster at the Celotti sale matches the number in the Lomax-Wade collection.

Saturday, 13 November 2021

Celotti or Ottley? The Source of the Lomax-Wade Collection [I]

Lomax-Wade collection, fol. 17

We saw last week that there are several reasons to believe that the collection of cuttings bound in 1838 into a copy of Henry Shaw, Illuminated Ornaments Selected from Manuscripts of the Middle Ages (1833), and later owned by John Lomax and W.O. Wade, may have been bought at the 1838 Ottley sale. But I also noted that Anne-Marie Eze had potentially traced some of the cuttings to the 1825 Celotti sale, so we should test these two competing hypotheses.

We also saw that strong support for Anne-Marie’s position comes from the fact that the initial depicting Dominic Loricatus scourging himself – a very rare subject – can potentially be identified in the Celotti catalogue, but not in the Ottley catalogue. She found several other potential matches, and while they are not individually conclusive they are collectively compelling.

Saturday, 6 November 2021

The Provenance of a Lombard Cutting [II]: The Lomax-Wade Collection

Last week we saw how an illuminated cutting from Lombardy could be traced to a Collectors' Corner catalogue issued in Spring 1961 by the Folio Society. As is so often the case, if we can establish the recent history of a medieval manuscript, this enables us to trace its provenance back much further.

The entry of our cutting (it was item 99e) in the 1961 catalogue appeared under this general heading:

This states that the whole group 
"are from service books illuminated on vellum for the Olivetan Order and which belonged to the Monastery of St. Victor at Milan. [...] The immediate provenance is the great Dyson Perrins Collection".

Saturday, 30 October 2021

The Provenance of a Lombard Cutting [I]



A few weeks ago the two items above were sold as a single lot at a provincial English auction, with an estimate of £80-120. The portrait miniature on the right was catalogued as "an over-painted print of a duckling" (I assume "duckling" must be some sort of spellcheck error for "duke"!). The illuminated cutting on the left was described as "A small framed and glazed illuminated manuscript extract". Together they cost the buyer £280 plus fees.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Otto Ege's Armenian Lectionary Dated "1121"


I cannot read languages written in non-Latin alphabets, such as Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, and Armenian, so I will only attempt to catalogue them if I have help from a specialist. I do, however, enounter them periodically. Ethiopian codices are fairly popular with private collectors, for example, because a complete codex (usually 19th-century, but still medieval in character) can be bought for the price of a single medieval Western illuminated leaf, and because the wood boards of the bindings are often not covered, leaving the spine and sewing structure clearly visible: they therefore make very good teaching tools.

I encounter with some frequency (in person or online) leaves from an Armenian Lectionary dispersed by Otto Ege (as shown above). Leaves of it were not included in his famous portfolio of Fifty Original Leaves, but they were in three of his earlier portfolios: Original Leaves from Famous Bibles: Nine centuries, 1121 A.D. - 1935 A.D., 'Series A' issued in 1936, in an edition of 200, and 'Series B' issued in 1938, in an edition of 100; and Fifteen Original Oriental Leaves of Six Centuries issued in [1952] in an edition of 40 copies [1]. If you meet with a leaf of an Armenian manuscript on paper, written in two columns of 33 lines, there is a good chance that it comes from this manuscipt.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

A Contemporary Opinion of the Ottley Collection of Illuminations

In the English journal The Athenæum, founded in 1828 [Wikipedia], is a contemporary account of the  items offered for sale in the 1838 Ottley auction of illuminated cuttings.