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:

An oddity of the text, presumably simply a scribal error, are the opening lines on the recto, which insert two words:
"... [suscep]tor meus misericordia eius. Deus ostendit ..."
and also omit six other words of the normal biblical text, presumably due to eye-skip from the first "Deus" to the second:
... susceptor meus. Deus meus voluntas eius praeveniet me. Deus ostendit ...
The parent manuscript presumably had a miniature at the beginning of each of the four gospel passages, of which that for Matthew is now in the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina (RBSC MS. 68; identified by Scott Gwara in A Census of Medieval Manuscripts in South Carolina Collections, 2007):
recto source
verso source
The miniature for Luke is known from reproductions:

In the listing of known leaves published by Margaret Manion et al., Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections (Melbourne, 1989), no.89, pp.100-1 and fig.164, the Occidental leaf is doubtless the one described as containing "Psalms 58:18-60?: the cataloguer mistook the verso for the recto and assumed that the text on the other side continued into Psalm 60. They record its most recent known provenance as "Maggs, Bulletin 11 (November 1982), no.68", which I have not yet been able to consult.

Scans of the four leaves now in Dunedin are available online herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I recently recognised another  untraced leaf from the book (not recorded by Manion et al.) in the collection at Huis Bergh, Holland, in time to have the identification included in Anne S. Korteweg, Catalogue of Medieval Manuscripts and Incunabula at Huis Bergh Castle in 's-Heerenbergh, 2013, p.71 no.21 ( / fr.52); it contains Psalms 46:10-47:11 on the recto:
 and Psalms 47:11-48:8 on the verso:

Two others not known to Manion et al. are in the V&A Museum:

A leaf with Matthew 26:61-68 was sold at Sotheby's in 2009:

Thus, some additions to the Manion et al. listing are:
  • Pss.46:10–48:8 (Huis Bergh)
  • Pss.48:8–49:7 (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Lat. liturg. e. 46; bought from Maggs, Bulletin 10 no.21a) 
  • Pss.53:3–54:15 (V&A Museum, 154-1936)
  • Pss.58:11–59:10 (Occidental College, formerly Maggs)
  • Pss.59:10–61:9 (formerly Sotheby's, 3 July 1984, part of lot 8; bought by Maggs)
  • Pss.68:38–70:11, bought by A.C. de la Mare from Maggs, European Bulletin 10, no.21 (photocopy at Bodleian)
  • Pss.97:1-98:7 (olim Maggs; see below)
  • Pss.118:90–115 (V&A Museum, 153-1936)
  • Pss.119:7-122:4 (University of Vermont Libraries [Added 23 May 2014])
  • Pss.146:8–148:9 (Sotheby's, 29 November 1990, lot 21, bought by Maggs)
  • Litany, single leaf witten in two columns including Eleucadius, Gaudentius, Mercuralis, and Paternianus (formerly Sotheby's, 3 July 1984, part of lot 8; bought by Maggs)
  • Matthew 26:61-68 (Sotheby's, 8 December 2009, lot 4(a)) [Edit 19 May 2014: This leaf is now at the Rare Book School, Charlottesville, Virginia, as Scott Gwara kindly informs me]
  • Matthew 27:35–52 (Maggs, Catalogue 1172, 1994, no.105; European Bulletin 20, 1995, no.52)
  • 1 leaf of the Canticles, owned by Dr. George Salt (photocopy at Bodleian)
  • Luke 23:8–26, bought by Clifford Maggs for his private collection from Charles Ede in 1967 (photocopy at Bodleian)
  • John 18:36–42, with the colophon (photocopy at Bodleian)
Although the combination of Psalter with Passion Sequences is unusual, there is a twin manuscript of these texts, also written by Pietro Ursuleo, now in Cambridge, Trinity College, MS. O.7.46 described here. It is discussed most recently in the Cambridge Illuminations exhibition catalogue, no.99.

[EDIT, 19 May 2014:]
Scott Gwara has kindly brought to my attention a leaf with an historiated initial, formerly owned by Maggs, illustrating the usual Psalter division at Psalm 97:

Bill Stoneman of the Houghton Library also contacted me, writing:
"The NZ catalogue includes the delightful story that the leaves there were ascribed to Pietro Ursuleo in 1972 by Albina de la Mare and she was proven correct a decade later when she found the colophon leaf in the collection in Canberra. Digital Scriptorium reveals another manuscript by Ursuleo is in the library at Columbia University in New York; presumably the ascription to Ursuleo is also the work of the now legendary Professor de la Mare."
The Columbia manuscript in Digital Scriptorium to which he refers is online here.


  1. Another folio at University of Vermont:

  2. Pietro Ursuleo appears to have died not in 1483 but in '84: see Tammaro De Marinis, La biblioteca napoletana dei Re aragonesi, vol. I, pp. 16-17. He had started copying by 1442 and continued doing so until the very end of his life. I am trying to track down the development of his script. If anyone can date this fragmentary psalter, or any other manuscript copied by Pietro that is not mentioned by De Marinis, please let me know.


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