Wednesday 30 December 2015

(Lots) More Libri Catalogues

Almost three years ago I did a post about some Guglielmo Libri catalogues of manuscripts that were available online.

Ten days ago the 'Histoire de la Bibliophilie' blog had a long post about a much larger number of catalogues of manuscripts described and/or sold by him (although many of them do not include medieval manuscripts):

Saturday 26 December 2015

William Ablard and the Shaftesbury Psalter

In October 2012, when complete digitisation of the Shaftesbury Psalter (BL, Lansdowne MS 383) had been put online, the provenance included this:
"William Ablard, 1612: inscription 'Wm Ablardi De Scendlebi [or Skendleby (?), Lincolnshire] ? 1612' (f. 2r)."
I suspect that this was taken directly from the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts:

Here is the inscription:

Wednesday 23 December 2015

An Unrecognised Book of Hours Made for Philip the Good [II] - An Addendum

Bodleian Library, MS. Laud Misc. 751, back pastedown (detail)

Anne Korteweg kindly emailed me about my most recent post, and with her permission I am sharing her observations (slightly edited):

Saturday 19 December 2015

An Unrecognised Book of Hours Made for Philip the Good [II]

In the previous post I suggested that a Book of Hours now at Smith College was written for Philip the Good. If he did indeed own it, it did not remain in the ducal collection for very long. There is an inscription that suggests another owner before the end of the 15th century.

On the back pastedown in a fine formal bâtarde script (also, significantly in the present context, known as lettre bourguignon) is an inscription that reads "C'est a moy Vaillant":
Northampton, MA, Smith College, MS. 288, back pastedown 
[All images of this manuscript are from Digital Scriptorium]
Looking for a person of this name with a connection to the Dukes of Burgundy, I find that Léon le Vaillant (d. 1520) was knighted by Charles the Bold (son of Philip the Good).

Saturday 12 December 2015

An Unrecognised Book of Hours Made for Philip the Good [Part I]

Northampton, MA, Smith College, MS. 288, fol.45r
[All images of this manuscript are from Digital Scriptorium]
In a previous post I mentioned that ten medieval manuscripts belonging to Smith College have been put online via Digital Scriptorium; they include one that I did not see when I visited the College a year ago.

Skimming through the Digital Scriptorium images this summer my interest was piqued by MS 288, a Book of Hours whose first text (after the calendar) has a rubric which mentions the Duke of Burgundy and provides the scribe's name, Dominic of Burgundy:
Northampton, MA, Smith College, MS. 288, fol.14r
[Source - All images from Digital Scriptorium]

Saturday 5 December 2015

Another Leaf from the Buckland Missal

In a previous post I mentioned that I have an interest in manuscripts from the Throckmorton library. This interest dates from the late 1990s, when I catalogued the Bodleian Library's Buckland Missal (MS. Don. b. 5; description below), which they had owned, and included a selection of images of it on what was, at the time, a fairly early example of a considerable body of digitized manuscript images online. You may, without being aware of it, be familiar with the Missal's only remaining historiated initial: it depicts the blessing of salt and water, and is used on the homepage of Chadwyck Healey's Patrologia Latina:

The volume has had an interesting history, and its provenance can be traced in part from inscriptions added to the calendar, including the dedication of the church at Buckland, from which it takes its name:
'Dedicacio eccl(esi)e de Buc[la]nd'

Sunday 15 November 2015

A Greek Manuscript Used as a Hiding-Place?

Having twice found evidence of pairs of medieval(?) spectacles left between the leaves of medieval manuscripts (described in the blog posts here and here) I now have a comparable, but somewhat different, situation to share.

In the previous posts I suggested that if a person only needed glasses for reading, it made perfect sense for him/her to leave the glasses in the book, both to act as a book-mark, and to make sure that they could be found when next needed.

Oxford, Corpus Christi College, MS 76, fol.1r
(By permission of the President and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Oxford)

Saturday 24 October 2015

An Unrecognised York Breviary in New York

Earlier this year I catalogued a Missal of the Use of York, one of only a dozen known to survive, with an interesting provenance, owned by someone who wanted to sell it to a public institution. Maggs handled the deal and everyone involved is happy with the result: it is now at Lambeth Palace Library.

In the process of cataloguing it I became familiar with the features that distinguish the Use of York calendar from the much more common Use of Sarum, as outlined by Richard Pfaff, The Liturgy in Medieval England: a History, 2009, pp.445–62.

While browsing Digital Scriptorium (from which all the images below are taken) in advance of a recent visit to the Grolier Club, New York, I noticed that their MS 3 has most of these features.

Saturday 17 October 2015

The Litany of the Psalter and Passion Sequences Written by Pietro Ursuleo

I have written a few times before about an interesting manuscript written by the scribe Pietro Ursuleo. Today I found a reproduction of a leaf that I had not seen before, from its litany of saints [1]:

Thursday 15 October 2015

Erik Drigsdahl's site,

Over the past several weeks some people have contacted me to ask about Erik's site,, which seems to be down again.

I've put a copy of it, for the time being, on my own webspace: it can be found at

I'm unusually busy at present, but hope to resume normal blogging soon ...

Friday 2 October 2015

Evidence of Another Pair of Medieval Reading-Glasses, in Brooklyn

On a recent visit to New York I looked at some of the manuscripts at the Brooklyn Museum. Among the more interesting ones is MS 19.74, with decorative motifs free-floating in the margins, in the manner of manuscripts illuminated by the Master of the David Scenes [1], such as these, accompanying the gospel extracts at the beginning of the volume:

Tuesday 18 August 2015

A 12th-century Cistercian Missal Formerly Owned by Otto Ege

Leaves from one of the manuscripts dispersed by Otto Ege which are most easily recognised are from a Cistercian Missal, long thought to be French or Spanish. A group of four including this leaf, for example:
was attributed in Sotheby's, 25 April 1983, lot 16, to "probably France (possibly Spain)":

Saturday 8 August 2015

The Duprat Bible [Part II]

The previous post left the Duprat Bible in the 1724 catalogue of the Château d'Anet.

Whoever bought the Bible divided each volume into two and rebound them in the present 18th-century bindings, for an unidentified owner, with a gilt “P L” (? or "L P" ?) monogram stamp in each corner:

Saturday 1 August 2015

The Duprat Bible [Part I]

The so-called "du Prat atelier" of 13th-century Parisian illuminators was named by Robert Branner after a luxurious large (c.440×320mm) Bible that is now in Boston Public Library (MS. f. Med. 104):
Boston, Public Library, MS. f. Med. 104, vol.IV, fols.434v-435r
Parts of its recent provenance are well known, but thanks to images taken by Lisa Fagin Davis I have been able to fill in much of the gap between the 16th century and 1830.

Saturday 25 July 2015

A Characteristic Quaritch Marking

Several years ago I began to put images of provenance marks on a website, which has rarely been updated since, except the page about the Duke of Sussex's library.

One page on that site concerns the price-codes of Bernard Quaritch Ltd. a business that is still going strong in London, despite several changes of premises since being founded by Bernard Quaritch himself in London in 1847.

Looking at images on Harvard University's Houghton Library website recently, I found a few images that all illustrate a particular type of Quaritch annotation, that can be useful in identifying manuscripts they sold in the early decades of the 20th century.

Once you've seen a few, they are easily recognisable, so it seemed worth putting them one after another here:
Houghton MS Typ 201 [source]

Sunday 19 July 2015

Ormesby Manuscripts from Norwich Cathedral

The name "Ormesby" immediately suggests to any manuscripts specialist the Bodleian Library's wonderful Ormesby Psalter (MS. Douce 366), apparently given to Norwich cathedral by Robert de Ormesby in the first half of the 14th century. But there were at least two other men named Ormesby, and there are at least two other manuscripts inscribed with that name, that belonged to Norwich cathedral in the same century.

One is reasonably well known: Cambridge, University Library, MS Kk.4.3, is a 13th-century volume containing several glossed Old Testament books. It has a Norwich Cathedral press-mark "G.xxxiij" and an inscription recording its gift by W. de Ormesby, rector of St Mary in the Marsh, Norwich:
"Liber comunitatis monachor[um] Ecc[lesi]e s[an]c[t]e Trinitatis Nor-
wyci. de dono d[omi]ni .W. de Ormesby Recoris s[an]c[t]e Marie
de Marisco.
In hoc uolumine contine[n]tur. Josue. Iudicum. Ruht [sic].
Regum. Paralipomenon. Esdras. Neemias. glosati."

Saturday 11 July 2015

A French 13th-Century Psalter at Smith College

Smith College, Northampton, MA, MS. 291, p.13
[All images from Digital Scriptorium]
Smith College, Massachusetts, is the most recent institution to join the Digital Scriptorium consortium. It has digitized 10 medieval manuscripts in their entirety and added them to the site.

I visited Smith for the first time last November, and wrote one post as a result, but have always intended to do more. Here I return to my notes on MS 291, a mid 13th-century Psalter.

Saturday 4 July 2015

The Herbert Bier Archive at the Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection in London is, among other things, a centre for the study of provenance, with a regular evening seminar on the History of Collecting, but until recently I had never used the Library, which owns the archive of the Jewish art dealer Herbert Bier (1905–1981), who emigrated from Germany to London in 1938.

The Archive consists of five main types of document:
  • Stock cards
  • Stock books
  • Photographs
  • Correspondence
  • Account books
Numerous medieval leaves and miniatures passed through Bier's hands, often part-owned with other dealers. As an example of how the Archive can be used to elucidate the recent provenance of such items, I give two examples below, leaves from the same manuscript.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Katherina Mast, Cistercian Scriptrix

I was recently asked on Twitter about the curious decoration in a few images of a Ferial Psalter at Penn (MS. Codex 655), which had been catalogued when it was acquired in 1965 as 14th-century, and French.

The style of decoration looked unusual, and I didn't know what to say, so I looked at more images, available at SIMS.

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Phillipps MSS Catalogue Online

Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum in Bibliotheca D. Thomæ Phillipps, Bart., A.D. 1837 (Impressus Typis Medio-Montanis, 1837[–1871]).
I have a copy of the Orskey-Johnson reprint (2001) of the Phillipps catalogue. In the introduction A.N.L. Munby states that he knows of only about fifteen complete, or substantially complete, copies of the catalogue, of which only seven are available for consultation in public institutions, at the BL, London; Bodleian, Oxford; UL, Cambridge; BnF, Paris; KB, The Hague; Harvard, Cambridge (MA); and Newberry, Chicago. The reprint is a copy of one formerly owned by David Lew Feldman, New York.

[Any reader who does not know what an extraordinary book the Phillipps catalogue is, should consult the first volume of Munby's Phillipps Studies (1951), or this very brief summary]

In connection with an enquiry from a reader a couple of days ago I tried Googling a phrase from the catalogue, hoping that it might lead me to the present whereabouts of one of the manuscripts, but it took me instead to an online copy of the catalogue itself, of which I was unaware.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Antwerp Auction Catalogues Online

I recently taught a two-day course on 'Codicology and Cataloguing' at the London International Palaeography Summer School (as a change to my usual one-day Introduction to Provenance Research). As part of the course I had the students examine a fine Netherlandish Bible, MS 292 in the Senate House Library collection; it was described by Ker in MMBL, I, pp.367–8, who did not have much to say about the provenance:
but some gaps can be filled thanks to catalogues now available online.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

The Cotterell-Throckmorton Hours

Looking through the Dreweatt-Bloomsbury catalogue mentioned in a previous post, I noticed a reproduction of leaf of an English Book of Hours (lot 23) that I recognise:

Sunday 14 June 2015

Miniatures From a Franciscan Prayerbook?

After a hiatus of a few weeks I have re-commenced blogging; my last couple of posts have been about items in the forthcoming London July auction sales of medieval manuscripts. There will be more to come.

Regular readers will know that I enjoy virtually reuniting separated cuttings, leaves, and volumes, of dispersed manuscripts. Just now I had one of those "Aha!" moments when I recognised such a connection.

The first miniature below will be Sotheby's, 7 July 2915, lot 56, and the other one was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1958.

The different lighting conditions, etc., of the photographs make them appear superficially rather different, but the style appears to be the same, as do the dimensions: the Sotheby's catalogue reports its leaf to be 164×102mm, while the Philly one is reported to be 165×100mm (perhaps rounded to the nearest 5mm).

If the parent manuscript had only one image of St Francis, one would assume the image originally faced a suffrage to the saint in a Book of Hours (the Sotheby's description is careful to say "probably", not certainly, from a Book of Hours), but as he apparently appeared twice, the second time with St Clare, one of his first followers, this suggests not only that the book had a strong Franciscan element, but also that it may have been some sort of prayerbook, rather than a standard Book of Hours.

Saturday 13 June 2015

A Lavishly Illuminated 13th-Century Psalter-Hours Made for a Nun [II]

In a previous post I discussed a fascinating Psalter-Hours whose origin in uncertain. A leaf with five historiated initials is among the offerings in Sotheby's July medieval manuscripts sale:

Friday 12 June 2015

A Leaf from the Sigmaringen Psalter Re-Emerges

The catalogue of the forthcoming Sotheby's summer sale of medieval and renaissance manuscripts (available online) includes, as lot 16, a leaf with a miniature in two compartments that I discussed in a previous post:
[click image for larger version]
The zoomable online image allows one to study details of the wonderful painting as never before:

Thursday 21 May 2015 is offline

EDIT 16 June 2015: Someone has apparently paid to extend the registration for another 12 months, and the site is active again.


Erik Drigsdahl's registration of his domain,, has expired.

The details on the Danish whois site read:

I downloaded a copy of the site recently using wget, and copies are archived at's Wayback Machine. This should suffice for the time being.

I will be visiting Copenhagen in July to meet with Erik's Executor, and anticipate being able to obtain his original files, and make the entire site available again, although perhaps not at the address.

Saturday 2 May 2015

Erik Drigsdahl (1942–2015)

There can hardly be a student of illuminated manuscripts that does not know, and has not benefited from, the website of Erik Drigsdahl at His online tools and guides for identifying the liturgical Use of Books of Hours has perhaps contributed more to the accurate localisation of manuscripts, and thus their earliest provenance, than any other resource.

Erik Drigsdahl, London, 2009

A Fourth Leo X Cutting

I'm too busy to do proper blog-posts at the moment, but here's a recent find, relating to the previous posts here, here, and here.

From Maggs, European Miniatures and Illumination: Bulletin No.6 (London, n.d. [between 1966 and 1971]), no.44

Sunday 19 April 2015

A Cutting Attributed to Jacquemart de Hesdin in Los Angeles

A series of cutting of calendar scenes attributed to Jacquemart de Hesdin was recently sold at Christie's.

They had previously been sold as part of the collection of Daniel Burckhardt-Wildt (1759–1819), at Sotheby's, 25 April 1983, lot 100, together with three larger miniatures (lot 99), doubtless from the same parent volume:

Saturday 11 April 2015

Robert de Ormesby, sub-prior of Norwich?

The Bishop of Norwich and Robert de Ormesby (?)
(Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 366, fol.9v (Beatus page, detail).
The Ormesby Psalter, one of the greatest treasures of English manuscript illumination, is so-called because of its flyleaf inscription stating that it was the Psalter of brother Robert de Ormesby, monk of Norwich, assigned by him to the choir of the church of the Holy Trinity, Norwich [i.e. the cathedral] to lie before the sub-prior in perpetuity:
"[P]salterium fratris Roberti de Or-
mesby monachi Norwyc[ensis] per eunde[m]
assignatu[m] choro eccl[es]ie s[an]c[t]e Trinitatis
Norwici ad iacendu[m] coram Supp[ri]ore
qui pro tempore fuerit in p[er]petuum"
It has always been a puzzle why Robert gave the manuscript to the sub-prior: if he gave the magnificent manuscript to the cathedral in order to gain favour and recognition, why not give it instead to the bishop or prior?

Saturday 4 April 2015

"BRYANSTOLE": Henry Yates Thompson's Price-Code

I was recently made aware of a digitized manuscript at Princeton from the collection of Henry Yates Thompson, which has his characteristic "Ex Musæo" label inscribed with his manuscript number, price in code, source and date of acquisition:


As I have been discussing price-codes in recent posts, I thought it might be worth correcting an error that has appeared in print at least four times.[1]

Saturday 28 March 2015

Arthur Feldman Cuttings Awaiting Restitution

In a previous post I described the restitution of a charter to Germany, from where it had gone missing during the War. Its safe return is recounted on the blog of the Westfalen-Lippe archives. 

I show above and below images of two other items in the LostArt database, both from the collection of Arthur Feldman. According to an old Sotheby's press release (PDF here):