Wednesday 31 December 2014

A Cryptic Circular Colophon

I don't use Twitter, but browsing the site recently I came across a tweet from Jesse D. Hurlbut, asking if anyone could solve this colophon:

The text in the middle circle reads:
¶ Les
lettres de ci environ
¶ Si font le non & le surnon
¶ Qui bien les saroit a droit
metre ¶ Et curieux de l'entre
metre ¶ De celui qui cest livre
fist ¶ Et du clerc qui son songe
escripst ¶ Qui la prophecie a
moustre ¶ U cercle des-
sus est nomme ¶ Qui
le livre a fait &

Saturday 27 December 2014

de Ricci On Cutting Up Manuscripts

Much attention has been given in recent years to the activities of Otto Ege and his defence of book-breaking in his article "I am a Biblioclast", and the whole subject was covered in some detail by Christopher de Hamel in his Cutting Up Manuscripts for Pleasure and Profit (Charlottesville, 1993).

But one surprising defender of the practice has, as far as I am aware, been overlooked in these discussions: Seymour de Ricci (1881–1942), probably best known for his Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (1935–37). In addition to this vast union catalogue, de Ricci also catalogued a few private collections, such as the books and manuscripts of the first Lord Amherst of Hackney (1835–1909) in 1906, and in 1913 an exhibition catalogue of miniatures belonging to the Parisian art historian and dealer Léonce Rosenberg (1879–1947):

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Pietro Ursuleo of Capua: A New Attribution

In a previous post about the Psalter and Passion Sequences written by Pietro Ursuleo, I used images of a Psalter in Baltimore (Walters Art Museum, MS W.330) to suggest what two features of the missing leaves might look like.

What I did not mention is that the Baltimore manuscript appears to me also to have been written by Ursuleo, an observation that has apparently not previously been made.[1]
Baltimore, Walters MS W.330

Saturday 20 December 2014

"BRAUNSCHWEIG", The Ashburnham Price-Code

One price-code missing from the excellent The Price-Codes of the Book-Trade: A Preliminary Guide, by "Exhumation" [i.e. Ian Jackson] (Berkeley, 2010),
and thus apparently unrecorded, is that of the man who, besides Sir Thomas Phillipps, formed the largest and most important private collection of medieval manuscripts in 19th-century England, namely, Bertram, 4th Earl of Ashburnham (1797–1878).

Wednesday 17 December 2014

More About the Bible of Louis de Harcourt, Vol.II

I recently visited Houghton Library at Harvard and was able to see MS Typ 239, discussed in a previous post. I am now able to show colour images of features which I could previously only show in black and white, or not at all. First, here is the ownership inscription of Louis de Harcourt:
Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Houghton Library,
Harvard University, MS. Typ 239, fol. 335v

Saturday 13 December 2014

The Vassar Leo X Cuttings (Part III): The Parent Volume

Having demonstrated in a previous post that the Vassar (and related) cuttings come from a manuscript closely related to the Preparatio ad missam manuscript of Pope Leo X, now at the Morgan Library, we can now consider what else can be deduced about the appearance of the volume from which the cuttings came.

Part of the evidence comes from the text visible on the backs of the cuttings:

Saturday 6 December 2014

A 13th-Century Bible From Beauvais at Smith College

On a recent visit to Smith College, Massachusetts, I saw a 13th-century Bible (MS 241) with unusual clues to its provenance.

Saturday 29 November 2014

The Vassar Leo X Cuttings, Part II

In a previous post I mentioned that the the newly-recognised cuttings from a Missal of Pope Leo X have a "companion" in New York.

At the Morgan Library and Museum is a Preparatio ad missam manuscript (MS H. 6) with a full-page frontispiece depicting Pope Leo X:

Wednesday 26 November 2014

A Triple Trompe-L'Œil (Midweek Miscellany 4)

Browsing photographs of manuscripts at the Houghton Library, Harvard, I found this unusual example of a trompe-l'œil fly, on a trompe-l'œil face, formed of the edge of a trompe-l'œil piece of parchment:
Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, Houghton Library, 
Harvard University, MS Typ 219, fol. 484r

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Another Leo X Cutting

I have just returned from a three-week trip to the USA (where I collected lots of material for future blog posts) which is why I missed my regular Saturday post this past weekend. Until I have time to write another full post, here is a small snippet to fill the gap.

The Morgan Library in New York has a Preparatio ad Missam manuscript closely related to the newly-identified cuttings from a Missal of Pope Leo X that were the subject of a previous post. In the Morgan's files is a note of another cutting, offered for sale in 1993 by the London art dealer Antiquus, which clearly comes from the same set:

Sunday 16 November 2014

Another Soranzo MS, now in Philadelphia

Browsing images of manuscripts at the Free Library, Philadelphia, I recently came across another unrecognised manuscript (Lewis E 219) formerly owned by Giacomo (alias Jacopo) Soranzo, with the distinctive foliation described in a previous post:

Saturday 8 November 2014

Alan Thomas and the Gabárty-Brandeis Manuscripts

In a previous post I discussed a cutting from the Bible of Pedro of Pamplona that was owned by Eugene Gabárty. I mentioned that he had sold it, with an Italian illuminated leaf, but somehow re-acquired them, and gave them both Brandeis University.

Since writing that post, I have acquired some auction catalogues, including a few that were owned by the bookseller Alan G. Thomas (1911–1992), who traded as Commin's, in Bournemouth (there is an online obituary and a appreciation on the website of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association).

Saturday 1 November 2014

New Cuttings From a Missal of Leo X, Illuminated by Attavante c.1520 [Part I]

In preparation for a visit to manuscript repositories within a few hours drive of New York city, I contacted Vassar College Library's Special Collections. They have a online listing of their leaves and cuttings, which included this tantalizing description:

I enquired about this and other items, and was kindly sent images by Ronald D. Patkus, Head of Special Collections and Adjunct Associate Professor of History, and Dean Rogers, Special Collections Assistant. I was not at all prepared for what I received:

Wednesday 29 October 2014

The Colbert Libraries (Midweek Miscellany 3)

The "Histoire de la Bibliophilie" blog has recently posted about the libraries of the various members of the Colbert family, including a family tree; portraits of, and biographical information about, the key individuals; discussions of their auction catalogues; and images of their binding-stamps, including these:
The JBC monogram of Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–83)

Saturday 25 October 2014

Yet More About the Cuttings From the Bible of Pedro of Pamplona

In a recent post I discussed some of the missing cuttings of the Bible of Pedro of Pamplona, known only from old photographs.

Within a few days of that post Bill Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at Houghton Library, Harvard, identified for me the present whereabouts of one of the initials I had discussed; and just a few days after that Geneviève Mariéthoz sent me news that two more cuttings have been acquired by the Bibliothèque municipale in Angers.

Saturday 18 October 2014

Long-Lost Miniatures from the Sigmaringen Psalter

Looking at the Lost Art website in connection with this blog post, I encountered this image:
The accompanying text states that this leaf was auctioned in Berlin in 1936, in a forced liquidation sale of 500 objects owned by the Jewish art dealer A.S. Drey:

Wednesday 15 October 2014

A Parchment Hole Used by an Artist (Midweek Miscellany 2)

This really has nothing to do with provenance, but it's too good not to share.

This drawing ...
Detail, recto
... appears in the lower margin of the huge (c.530×370mm) Clumber Bible (France, c.1395):
Full-page view
Detail, verso
The most detailed published description of the manuscript is: Sam Fogg, Illuminated Manuscripts: An Exhibition at the Blumka Gallery, New York (London, 1999), no.12 pp.44–49.

Saturday 11 October 2014

The 1524 "Hildesheim" Prayerbook

Many American and private collections have one or more leaves of an easily-recognisable prayerbook dated 1524 and attributed to Hildesheim.

A Google Images search for hildesheim leaf 1524 produces lots of hits:

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Midweek miscellany I

In addition to my regular Saturday posts, I have decided to do occasional posts midweek, when I have some small observation or discovery.

Having posted twice about the dismembered Pietro Ursuleo manuscript, I thought it would be worth putting side-by-side the miniatures of the Evangelist Matthew. It is interesting how remarkably similar they are, despite being by different illuminators: the leaf in South Carolina is attributed to Cola Rapicano, while the Cambridge volume is attributed to Matteo Felice.

Saturday 4 October 2014

More on the Psalter and Passion Sequences written by Pietro Ursuleo of Capua

In a previous post I wrote about the dismembered Psalter and Passion Sequences written by the humanistic scribe Pietro Ursuleo of Capua.

I have recently found a description of the book when it was still intact.

Saturday 27 September 2014

More Initials from the Bible of Pedro of Pamplona

A year ago I wrote a blog post about cuttings from the Bible of Pedro of Pamplona, all but one of which I believed to be in institutional collections. In correspondence with Geneviève Marièthoz, who is actively working on the Bible, I subsequently learned that six more initials are in a private collection in France.

By pure luck I recently found reproductions of four more previously-unrecognised initials on two consecutive days. The first was in the collection of Adolf von Brekerath of Berlin, sold by Lepke in Berlin, 17–21 November 1916, lot 12:

Saturday 20 September 2014

The Restitution of a Charter Dated 1199

Earlier this year I was looking at a collection of leaves and documents and came across one that looked particularly appealing, being written in a very elegant script and having a large intact seal:

Saturday 13 September 2014

The Ferrell Roman de la Rose: a Budé, Bourré, and Pérussis Puzzle

After reading the blog post about a manuscript in Liège with the arms of Jean(?) Budé, Dominique Vanwijnsberghe kindly told me about a late 18th-century illuminated leaf, added to a late 14th-century manuscript in the Morgan Library, New York (MS G.32, of which there are images and a description online), which also has the Budé arms half-way down the right border.

Visiting me in London a few weeks later Dominique very kindly gave me a copy of his excellent book, “Moult bons et notables”: L’enluminure tournaisienne à l’époque de Robert Campin (1380–1430) (Leuven, 2007), in which the image below is fig.285.
New York, Morgan Library, MS G.32, fol.1r
Detail of right border

Saturday 6 September 2014

The Bible of Louis de Harcourt (d.1479), Patriarch of Jerusalem and Bishop of Bayeux

In a few weeks' time a well-known dealer will open an exhibition of manuscripts at his gallery in central London. He tasked me to check and revise the existing descriptions, and I undertook to amplify them with new research where possible. This led to some satisfying discoveries, some of which I may post about in the coming weeks.

One of them arose from my recent investigations for this blog of the manuscripts in the 1926 Brölemann-Mallet auction catalogue, several of which were bought by Messrs William Permain for William Randolph Hearst.

Saturday 30 August 2014

English Book Sale Catalogues 1801–1900: A Preliminary Version

Just a few days after publishing the previous post I happened, by pure chance, to discover that a preliminary draft of the long-awaited continuation of Munby and Coral's work has very recently been made available online thanks to Annette Fern. It had been on the website of the Bibliographical Society of America for less than a week, and there has not yet been a formal announcement.

It consists of a chronological list of about 17,500 different catalogues of sales from January 1801 to December 1900, and locations of extant copies of those catalogues in about 150 libraries in the UK and USA.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Catalogues of English Book Sales, 1676–1900

One of the most useful tools for provenance research on medieval manuscripts has been made available for online consultation and download:
List of Catalogues of English Book Sales, 1676–1900, Now in the British Museum (London, 1915)

Saturday 16 August 2014

A Companion Volume of the Jean Budé Liège Prayerbook

By coincidence, this week I came across what appears to be a companion volume to the Prayerbook discussed in a recent post.
[Throughout this blog you can click images to get larger versions]

Saturday 9 August 2014

Hearst's Other Brölemann-Mallet Manuscripts

As related in the previous post, the Beauvais Missal was bought at the Brölemann-Mallet sale in 1926 by Permain on behalf of William Randolph Hearst. Lest there be any doubt that Permain was acting for Hearst, we can look at the other manuscripts bought by Permain at the Brölemann-Mallet sale, and find that they all later belonged to Hearst, and were all listed in the 1941 Gimbel-Saks-Hammer catalogue.

Even where the attributions to a country or century are incorrect, or absent, positive identifications can be made based on other features such as the dimensions and numbers of leaves:

Saturday 2 August 2014

The Beauvais Missal: A New Piece of the Provenance

Of all the manuscripts said to have been cut up by Otto Ege and now scattered around the world, none is as instantly recognisable as the Beauvais Missal, and perhaps none was as valuable when still intact. And yet, despite the lively interest in Ege and his manuscripts in recent decades, no one seems to have found out where he got it from.

Saturday 26 July 2014

Another Manuscript Commissioned by Jean(?) Budé

The University of Liège has recently digitized some of its most important illuminated manuscripts. Among them is a very unusual volume, MS Wittert 39:

Saturday 19 July 2014

A Miniature from the Loredan Hours in Los Angeles

LACMA exterior (from Google streetview)
A recent visit to LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) led to some nice surprises. One was the discovery of another of the missing miniatures from the so-called Loredan Hours, about which I wrote previously.

It has a pope, cardinal, king, and layman kneeling before God in heaven, and illustrates a suffrage for Peace:
Los Angeles, LACMA, 58.62.1, verso

Saturday 12 July 2014

Saturday 5 July 2014

The Wildenstein Cuttings and Leaves

Ten years ago I made a concordance of the numbering systems used for referring to the cuttings and leaves in the Wildenstein Collection at the Musée Marmottan, Paris. The web now gives me an easy way to share it, so I have uploaded it to

While updating it today I found an image online of Georges Wildensten, who formed the collection, taken by Paris Match in 1963, the year of his death:

Saturday 28 June 2014

Jougla De Morenas, Grand armorial de France, available for download

I have just discovered that Henri Jougla de Morenas (continued by Raoul de Warren), Grand armorial de France: Catalogue général des armoiries des familles nobles de France ... (1934–1952) including the Supplément,  is available via the web as a series of PDFs.

Get them before the links break!

  • 1: van der AA – Bataillon
  • 2: de la Batardie – Coëtlogat de Clegrio
  • 3: de Coëtlogon – de Fieubert
  • 4: des Fieux – de Martimprey
  • 5: Martin – de Richaud
  • 6: Richaudeau – Zylof de Steenbourg et de Wynde (followed by Sources and bibliography)
  • 7: Supplément
For volumes 2–7 just change the numeral in the URL.

Here, for example, is the entry for the Hurault family, discussed in a recent post:

A few other books are available from the same website:

There is also a link to a very large heraldic bibliography, with links to digitized books, here.

Saturday 21 June 2014

A Dismembered Italian Ferial Psalter

Those of you who subscribe to the Manuscripts on My Mind (MoMM) Newsletter (and if you don't, I recommend that you do) will know about St Louis University, MSS 55a and 55b; Susan L'Engle brought attention to these two leaves in MoMM issue 8 (PDF here):

Saturday 14 June 2014

Archinto Catalogue Online

Some time ago I was pleased to discover that Google Books included an 1863 auction catalogue of books from the library of Count Carlo Archinto of Milan, as I had encountered important medieval manuscripts from this library at the Bodleian and Getty Museum.

Those I have seen are in distinctive green vellum-covered bindings. Two of the three Archinto MSS in Digital Scriptorium have such a binding, for example:
Typical Archinto binding
San Francisco, State of California, Sutro Collection MS 7

Saturday 7 June 2014

Unidentified Hurault? Arms in a French Book of Hours

I am currently trying to identify some arms that appear twice in a Book of Hours, made in Paris(?) in the first half of the 16th century. They appear filling a half-page space at the end of the Extracts from the Four Gospels:
and again, rather cropped, in the lower border at the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin:

Sunday 1 June 2014

A Manuale from the Augustinian Convent of Sts James and Christopher, Steterburg (Lower Saxony)

Having discussed one of Occidental College's two medieval codices in a previous post, we can turn to the other: a fascinating German nuns' book – a manuale – whose origin can be deduced from its textual contents.
But before turning to its origin, what can we tell about its more recent provenance?

Saturday 24 May 2014

A Thérouanne Book of Hours at Occidental

Occidental College has a very interesting and unusual Book of Hours, one of whose features is a unique(?) image of its patron saying the rosary.
 I provide a fairly detailed textual and iconographic descriptions below, but first the known details of its provenance.

Saturday 17 May 2014

A Dispersed Copy of John of Wales's Communiloquium

Leaves of a fine copy of the Communiloquium or Summa Collationum of John of Wales (alias John Waleys / Joahnnes G[u]allensis) are to be found in a wide variety of collections, and they occasionally appear on the market.

One framed leaf, at Occidental College, provides information about their provenance, otherwise unavailable.

On the back of the frame is an old typescript label:

Saturday 10 May 2014

A Leaf of Pietro Ursuleo's Psalter-Passion Sequences in Eagle Rock

The small collection of medieval leaves in Special Collections in the Library at Occidental College in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles has yet more interesting items to offer.

Among them is a leaf from a Psalter with Passion Sequences, written by the humanistic scribe Pietro Ursuleo of Capua (d.1483).

The recto contains the text of Psalms 58:11-18:
and the verso continues with the last two words of Psalm 58; a long titulus to Psalm 59; and the text of Psalm 59:1-10:

Sunday 4 May 2014

A Leaf from a Fine English Psalter, c.1200

Occidental College has an extremely appealing leaf of an English Psalter of circa 1200, containing Psalms 20:1-21:6:

The fact that the Psalm 21 initial is enlarged (three lines in height, instead of Psalm 20's two-line height) suggests a Benedictine connection: Psalm 21 was one of the Benedictine divisions of the Psalms, being the first Psalm said at Matins on Sundays.

The leaf recognisably comes from a very handsome but somewhat defective volume of 129 leaves offered by Maggs Bros., Catalogue 1262: Illuminated Leaves and Historical Documents  (Christmas, 1998), item 7, and again in European Bulletin, no.23: Illuminated Miniatures, Manuscripts, and Single Leaves 1000-1900 A.D., Catalogue 1366 [December, 2004], item 1, with a colour reproduction:

The Maggs description reports that it was previously Christie's, 2 July 1975, lot 290, when it had "140 leaves (including one replacement leaf at the beginning)".

Of the leaves that had been removed from the volume between 1975 and 1998 were:
  • Maggs Bros., Bulletin 12, no. 25
  • Maggs Bros., Bulletin 13 (July 1986), nos. 32, 33
  • Maggs Bros., Bulletin 15 / Catalogue 1103, no. 55
  • Maggs Bros., Bulletin 22 / Catalogue 1249 [April 1998] no. 4, with reproduction. Pss.17:39-18:7
  • Sotheby's, 17 June 1997, lot 20 (a)
EDIT 25 April 2014
I have just noticed that the volume was sold at Sotheby's, 23 June 1998, lot 45, with a description listing several single leaves that had been extracted since 1975.