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:

I had encountered it a few weeks earlier: as the 1936 catalogue states, it had been sold anonymously in Berlin by Ball & Graupe as part of "Eine Wiener Sammlung" (i.e. the Czeczowitzka collection), on 12 May 1930, also in Berlin, by Ball & Graupe:

Lots 1 and 6 [the latter is now at the Getty Museum]
The catalogue has a Foreword by M.J. Friedländer, who presumably did the cataloguing.

The leaf was also published in the year of the Drey liquidation sale, along with three others, by Hanns Swarzenski, Die lateinischen illuminierten Handschriften des XIII. Jahrhunderts in den Ländern an Rhein, Main und Donau (2 Bd., Berlin, 1936), pp.49 and 121 no.39 figs.496-499, as follows:
  1. Annunciation, Visitation, Shepherds, Nativity (Location unknown)
  2. Magi, Baptism (Jacques Rosenthal, Munich)
  3. Entry into Jerusalem, Last Supper (A.S. Drey, Munich)
  4. Carrying the Cross, Crucifixion (Robert Forrer, Strassbourg)

Of these four, No.2 had been offered for sale by Jacques Rosental in his catalogue Mittelalterliche Miniaturen, issued in June 1931:

It has since turned up in the Liberna Foundation (now part of the Draiflessen Collection), to which it has belonged since 1942, and it was published recently in the exhibition catalogueVon der Schönheit der Präzision: Faszination Buchkunst und Grafik mit der Liberna Collection. Ausstellungskatalog (2012), no.016:
In the catalogue entry, Christopher de Hamel did not know where Nos.1 or 4 are, but he records that Swarzenski's No.3 (the Drey leaf) was in the collection of Kurt Arnold (1887–1951) of Dresden, and was sold at Sotheby's on 23 June 1992, lot 9:

While planning for my upcoming trip to Philadelphia I was browsing the website of the Barnes Collection, and realised that one of their leaves is a previously unknown miniature from the same series:

The two main differences between this newly-recognised miniature and the four that were previous known, are that (i) it is the only one that depicts Old Testament events, and (ii) it is to be read from top to bottom, as normal, unlike the other four, which have to be read from from bottom to top. These differences cast some doubt on whether it came from the same manuscript: it might be by the same illuminator, but from a different book.

Any doubts were dispelled, however, when Judy Donovan of the Barnes Foundation kindly informed me that their leaf had been bought from Jacques Rosenthal of Munich on 11 December 1930, and sent me an image that shows that its blank upper and lower margins have been folded backwards, in exactly the same way as the Liberna Foundation leaf, and they have the same script and decorated initals:
In subsequent correspondence with the Barnes Foundation I obtained images of the very few medieval manuscript leaves that were not already on the website, and was delighted to find that they also own Swarzenski No.1, whose whereabouts have been unknown since before he published his book in 1936:

It is possible that there were only ever five such miniatures that survived from the Middle Ages until 1930, but the chances are that strong others await discovery, especially now that we have established that the series included at least one Old Testament leaf. I will of course be interested to hear from any readers who know of any further miniatures from the set. The only one of the four published in 1936 that has not been seen recently is No.4:

Swarzenski suggested that the leaves came from an imperfect Psalter in the Hohenzollern Court Library at Sigmaringen; it was described very briefly by W. Wattenbach, "Beschreibung einiger Handschriften der fürstlich hohenzollern'schen Bibliothek in Sigmaringen", Anzeiger für Kunde der deutschen Vorzeit, N.14 (1867), cols.235–39 at col.236:
and in more detail by F.A. von Lehner, Fürstlich Hohenzollernsches Museum zu Sigmaringen: Verzeichnis der Handschriften (Sigmaringen, 1872), p.17 no.10, as follows:
And by Swarzenski himself:

It was sold by W.S. Kundig, Très précieux manuscrits enluminés et incunables provenant de la bibliothèque privée de feu M. Léo-S. Olschki et d'une collection princière: livres anciens des XVIe, XVIIe, XVIIIe siècles et du début du XIXe siècle, Geneva, 23 June 1948, lot 3, and entered the Liberna Collection in the same year.

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