Sunday 25 October 2020


Charles Fairfax Murray (1849–1919)
Self-portrait [Source]

The previous post discussed some cuttings from a French vernacular prose romance, three of which were almost certainly in the 1838 Ottley sale, because they were later in the Holford Album, which was apparently formed entirely of items from the Ottley sale. Another two, apparently from the same parent manuscript, are at the V&A Museum.

In today's post I will look more closely at the provenance of the V&A cuttings, to see what it might tell us, not only about these French cuttings, but also about the other cuttings acquired as part of the same acquisition.

Saturday 17 October 2020

Cuttings from a Prose Romance in French

In the blogpost two weeks ago I reproduced a miniature from a 14th-century French manuscript, shown above, without saying much about it. It was one of a group of three, sold as lot 2 in the Holford sale, 12 July 1927; here are the other two:

I already knew of two sister-cuttings, and by coincidence, I think I found three more this week.

Saturday 10 October 2020

The Date of a Worcester Psalter (Magdalen College, MS 100)

I visited Magdalen College Library for the first time a year or two ago, to look at an early 13th-century Psalter [1]. It has been discussed in some detail by Nigel Morgan [2], thanks to its high quality illuminated initials, one of which is shown above.

He attributes it to Worcester, based partly on the iconography of the historiated initials (two of which are closely paralleled in the mid-13th-century Evesham Psalter -- Evesham is less than 15 miles south-east of Worcester), and especially the fact that "the Calendar and Litany are for the use of Benedictine Priory of the Cathedral of Worcester". The date is a trickier issue.

Sunday 4 October 2020

Felix Joubert (1872-1953) [II]: Collector?

Felix Joubert dressed as a medieval soldier

In last week's blogpost we met Felix Joubert, the amazingly talented restorer and copyist of artworks and artefacts in various media. It is probably fair to also label him as a "forger", as he cannot have been unaware that some of his works were intended to deceive: they were either being sold as originals, or used as substitutes for works that were obtained illicitly.

We started our enquiry from the fact that he (or more likely one of his many employees) made a new frame for an illuminated cutting, probably soon after it was sold in the Holford sale in 1927. What I did not mention last week, is that he was also himself the buyer of several lots at that sale. The official  price-list, printed and distributed to catalogue subscribers after the sale, records that he bought lots 1, 2, 9, 14, 25, and 33, for a (substantial) total of nearly £2,200 [1]:

Before I found out who he was, I always assumed that Joubert was a dealer, buying these lots either on behalf of clients, or for stock. This may indeed be true, but I suspect that he was buying at least some items for his own collection, for two reasons.