Saturday, 5 October 2019

A Bible in Philadelphia, Attributed to the Grusch Atelier [I]

I have always struggled to understand the fundamental book about 13th-century Parisian illumination: Robert Branner, Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis: A Study of Styles (University of California Press, 1977).

I have had to grapple with it again in earnest during the past couple of years, while cataloguing leaves in the McCarthy Collection, several of which have been attributed (wrongly, in my opinion) to artists and ateliers defined and named by Branner, including "The Dominican Painter", "The Leber Group", "The Atelier of the Vienna Moralized Bibles", and "The Johannes Grusch Atelier".

The latter atelier has been the subject of an extended exchange on Twitter this week, and in the course of trying to understand Branner's definition of the style(s), I went looking for digitized versions of the manuscripts he cites. One of them is a Bible at the Free Library, Philadelphia (MS Lewis E 242), recently digitized as part of the Bibliophilly project.

Here are a few of the initials, attributed to the Grusch Atelier by Branner:
I won't talk about the attributional problems and the Grusch Atelier today, but will instead look at a few aspects of its provenance.
Johannes Patou, Cambrai? (Johannes Patou written five times in various hands on the flyleaf verso; fol. 204v, at the end of the Psalms: Joannes patou me ex urbe opule[n]tissima (trecis?) Cameracum (Cambrai) transtulit; signature, fol. 445v); Diego Alphonso, Spain (fourteenth or fifteenth century, signature, fol. 445v) ; purchased by the Free Library from Harry Levinson (Beverly Hills, California), 1969; several other early inscriptions on f. 445v and rear pastedown"
As the online description (above) tells us, a man (otherwise unidentified) named Johannes Patou wrote his name in the Bible several times:
including in a blank space before the beginning of Proverbs:
"Ioannes Patou me ex urbe opule(n)tis/sima Trecis Cameracum tra(n)stu/lit" (i.e. Jean took the book from Troyes to Cambrai).
There is a two-line inscription on the first flyleaf, above the first Johannes Patou inscription:
"Huc ego sum lector Trecis devectus ab urbe
Urbs opibus dives, dives et ingeniis"
We have already seen that Patou moved to Cambrai from Troyes, so this is presumably also by him.

This inscription allows us to identify the manuscript as a Bible sold in 1877 from the collection of Charles Edmond Henri de Coussemaker (1805-1876) [Wikipedia]:
as lot 1076:
"Cette Bible a appartenu à Jean Patou, probablement chanoine de Cambray, qui l'avait apporté de Troies, comme nous apprennent ... ce distique écrit sur la garde:
             Huc ego sum lector Trecis devectus ab urbe
             Urbs opibus dives, dives et ingeniis"
The same distich allows us to trace the provenance of the Bible back even further.

There is an the 1848 catalogue of the manuscripts at the Bibliothèque municipale, Lille:
and because many of the Lille manuscripts came, after the Revolution, from the Cistercian abbey at Loos [Wikipedia], a short distance to the south-west of Lille
there is an appendix, with an extract from the writings of Ignace Delfosse, who became abbot of Loos in 1704 and died in 1727:
The extract describes two manuscript Bibles; although there is not much description, and no mention of Patou, we can surely identify the second of them, because it has the inscription found in the Philadelphia Bible:

I will save for a second post some comments about the earlier medieval provenance.

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