Saturday, 11 January 2020

The Illuminated Cuttings and Leaves of Eugène Rodrigues (1853-1928)


I recently catalogued for a Sotheby's sale, on 3 December 2019, lot 1, the cutting above. It belongs to a group in which I have had an interest for many years.

Two members of the series were sold by Helbing, Munich, 24-25 November 1933, lots 86 and 87:
Two are in the Barnes Collection, Philadelphia:
And one is at Princeton University Art Museum:


All of them come from a collection formed by Eugène Rodrigues (1853-1928), a Parisan lawyer and connoisseur of drawings, sold by Frederik Muller & Cie, Catalogue d’une vente importante de dessins anciens: collection R..., de Paris, principalement des écoles des Pays-Bas et de l’Allemagne ... miniatures sur velin, etc. (2 vols) 12 July 1921 [1], lot 244:
[As usual, click images to enlarge; details below]
(Detail: top rows, with the Sotheby's cutting, lower right)
(Detail: middle rows, with the two ex-Helbing cuttings, upper right and centre; and the Princeton cutting, below the latter)
(Detail: lower rows, with the two Barnes cuttings, right)

Frits Lugt tells us that in 1920 Rodrigues sold his collection en bloc for 500,000 fr. to Frederik Muller et Cie, Amsterdam, who resold it to Mr. A. W. Volz, a collector in The Hague; but he changed his mind and sent them back to Muller to be auctioned, through the 1921 catalogue under discussion. [2].

There are a lots of other interesting manuscripts in the 1921 catalogue. Lot 226 is a miniature, presumably from a Book of Hours, depicting Gilette de Coëtivy (d. 1510), wife of Antoine de Luxembourg, at prayer, accompanied by Sts Giles and Anthony (name-saints of herself and her husband), with their arms:

This drawing, lot 227 in the Rodrigues sale:
had previously been sold by Boerner, Leipzig, 4 December 1911, lot 45, and is now at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede (inv.no. 8; cat.no. 9):
It seems to be one of the earliest representations of an iconography variously described as a "scala salutis" or "chain of intercession", in which the soul of the dying person (in this case female) appeals to the Virgin, who exposes one breast and appeals to her son on the Cross, who points to the wound in his own breast and in turn appeals to God the Judge (enthroned, top left); flanked by other figures including a devil (at the right-hand edge, cropped). [3]

Lot 223 was these four initials, apparently from an alphabet pattern-book:
The top two are now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC:
and the other two are now at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard:
All four, and one other at the Ashmolean Museum, are discussed by Francesca Manzari in the catalogue of the 2016 Beyond Words exhibition (no. 62 pp. 87-88).

Six cuttings from a copy of Sigismund Meisterlin's Augsburg Chronik, written (and illuminated?) by Conrad Vaihinger, c.1490, were lot 421:
They were later in the Robert von Hirsch collection, sold at Sotheby's, 20 June 1978, lot 7 (and later in H.P.Kraus, Catalogue 159 (1981), no. 24):
About 25 cuttings from the same manuscript are known; one was sold at Christie's, 26 June 1996, lot 5:
Unknown ones still surface occasionally; one, for example, appeared at Sotheby's, 5 December 2017, lot 18:

Lot 243 is not reproduced in the catalogue, but from the description it can be identified as a leaf later in the Robert von Hirsch and Bernard Breslauer collections, and now at the Getty Museum:
[Source]
Lot 282 is a series of fourteen miniatures on twelve cuttings from a copy of the Roman de Mélusine:
They are now at Upton House, a National Trust property:
[Source]
[Source]

Lot 281 is described as a fragment of a roll, with three round miniatures:
One of the miniatures is reproduced, which allows it to be identified as coming from the same roll as a series of membranes now dispersed between Yale, Dartmouth College, and the Centre Jean d'Arc, Orléans (the latter two sections are described and analyzed as parts of "Manuscript X" in Lisa Fagin Davis, La chronique anonyme universelle: Reading and Writing History in Fifteenth-Century France (2014), esp. pp. 112-14):


I am always interested to see how collections of cuttings and leaves were framed and displayed, and am therefore glad that the Rodrigues catalogue includes this image:
As the Introduction to the catalogue states about the collection:
"Il est superflu d'en relever ici l'importance et la beauté: les reproductions de notre catalogue le prouvent suffisamment, mais nous ne suarions trop nous arrêter sur la beauté et la rareté des encadrements. Le collectionneur a eu la passion du cadre. ... Pour qu'on puisse se rendre compte de l'importance que présentent ces cadres, nous avons ajouté une planche spéciale qui en reproduit un bon nombre"
Among the leaves that are not otherwise reproduced in the catalogue, the above image includes this one (third row from the top, right of centre), showing lot 239 ("Maitre miniaturiste de l'Allemagne du sud, vers 1470. Feuille de missel avec l'initiale O dans laquelle est la crucifixion. A droite, au bord de la feuille, l'empereur Henri. ... Haut. 45, larg. 32 cent."):
It was resold by Reiss, 27 October 2009:
The overall appearance (layout, script, musical notation, decoration), and especially the unusual placement of a figure in the fore-edge margin, suggests that it comes from the same manuscript as this leaf:
[Image from Lisa Fagin Davis's blog here]
which was owned by Otto Ege, and is now at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia:
[Source]

EDIT, 26 Jan 2020
Jim Marrow has contacted me to point out that the Rodrigues-Reiss choirbook leaf shown above apparently comes from the same manuscript as two leaves made in the early 16th century for use in the monastery of St. Cornelius (Crutched Friars / Kruisheren / Kreuzherren) at Roermond, that he published in part in the exhibition catalogue, Leaves of Gold: Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2001), pp. 157-161, no. 53:
[Source]

[Source]


Notes
[1] Text volume here, plates volume here.

[2] Having sold his first collection, Rodrigues formed a second, part of which he sold to Gustav Nebehay (the subject of an old post) in 1926, and the rest of which was sold after his death in 1928 (28-29 November 1928 and 25-26 February 1929). The latter sales including only a small number of badly-described manuscripts, e.g. "École Flamande XVe siècle. Lettre J ornée de chaque côté d'un grand sujet religieux. Enluminure polychrome et or."

[3] For a recent discussion and survey of the iconography, see Didier Jugan, "La 'Bonne Mort': Iconographie du Jugement Particulier du XVe au XVIIe siècle", XVe Congrès international d'études sur les Danses macabres et l'art macabre en général (Chartres, 2012), available on Academia.edu here.

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