Sunday, 20 December 2020

The Hoe Album, I: Frate Nebridio


Following my blogpost in September in which I virtually reunited a cutting of an illuminated border at Harvard, with an historiated initial at the Fitzwilliam Museum illuminated by the Master of the Murano Gradual, I had  a series of email exchanges with Bill Stoneman, which have now borne unexpected but very satisfying fruit.

The Murano border is one of a series of illuminated cuttings at Harvard with consecutive shelfmarks and a common recent provenance, described in detail below. A few of these cuttings have previously been associated with William Young Ottley (especially those with "from the Cathedral of Como" inscriptions, like those discussed in this post), but I can now show that all of them come from the 1838 Ottley sale.

As I mentioned in the post about the Murano Gradual border, it was one of a large group given to the Fogg Art Museum in 1916 by William Augustus White, having previously been in the collection of Robert Hoe. In an addendum to that post (thanks to Bill) I provided the relevant entry in the Hoe auction catalogue, by The Anderson Auction Company, New York, Part IV, 11 November 1912:


Bill also directed me to A.W. White's accession register, which records the purchase and donation of this album across the top of a double-page spread (click images to enlarge):
[Source]

Taking the parts in turn from left to right we read:
"1913 | Jan'y 3  Vol. of 46 Miniatures 14th-15th-16th centuries, from chorals, missals, &c."
"Lot 2361 4th pt. Hoe sale, of Quaritch (who pd. $900 but would have gone higher) $1200"

(In fact, the printed results of the Hoe sale suggest that Quaritch paid $700, not $900, but perhaps they were including various expenses in this figure).

"March 24th 1916 | given [to] Fogg Art Museum, Harvard"
Having fully established the details of the provenance from the November 1912 Hoe sale, to White's purchase from Quaritch in January 1913, and his donation in March 1916 to Harvard, we can now begin to lay out the evidence for Ottley's earlier ownership.

The clearest link between any of the cuttings and Ottley is the one shown at the top of this post. The vertical shaft of the initial "R", to the left of Christ's hand, is signed by the documented artist, Frate Nebridio da Cremona [OxfordArtOnline]: 
"NEB | RIDI' | ME .P."

There can be little doubt that this is the first item in lot 172 in the Ottley sale:
"172  Two—Christ risen from the Dead, Nebrid. Pinx.; and the Transfiguration"
The second item in this lot can also be identified at Harvard. In the 1970's, when the Hoe-White cuttings were still at the Fogg Art Museum, the signed initial with the Christ Resurrected was still stuck to the same sheet as an initial depicting the Transfiguration (they have since been transferred to the Houghton Library and separated):

(Image from Sandra Bandera, ‘Persistenze tardogotiche a Cremona: Frate Nebridio e altri episodi’, Paragone, 28 no.323 (1977), 34–72, pls. 1–31, pl. 21).

Here is a colour image of the Transfiguration cutting:

In the next few posts I will show how almsot all of the other cuttings from the Hoe Album can be identified in the Ottley sale catalogue.

EDIT, 10 January 2021

I was apparently wrong to suggest, above, that the Resurrection and Ascension cuttings were formerly attached to the same sheet, which I based on the reproduction in Bandera's article: an image in Giordana Mariani Canova, ‘Manoscritti Miniati Veneti Nelle Biblioteche Di Cambridge e Boston (Mass.)’, Arte Veneta, 29 (1975), 97–104, shows a different configuration:


I now think that both images are deceptive; we can be sure that the border with the Lion of St Mark, of Venice, shown immediately above, was never mounted horizontallly, as it is too wide:

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