Saturday 30 January 2021

Cuttings Supposedly From the Certosa at Pavia and the Cathedral of Como: A Previously Unnoticed Sale

The famous Celotti auction at Christie's in 1825 consisted largely of very late 15th-century and 16th-century papal illuminations from the sacristy of the Sistine Chapel. The sale has received a lot of attention in recent decades, reaching a cresecendo about a decade ago: in the late 2000s Anne-Marie Eze catalogued the cuttings now at the British Library (and traced sister-cuttings in other collections) and submitted her PhD thesis on Celotti in 2010; in the same year Elena De Laurentiis covered some of the same ground in the exhibition The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel. Each of them, and others, have also published articles on various aspects of the Sistine manuscripts and their fates. [1]

It is partly because the Celotti cuttings have already been so well studied that my own focus has been the other great 19th-century sale of illuminated cuttings, that of W.Y. Ottley, in 1838, as regular readers will be well aware. I do, however, think I have one small contribution to make concerning Celotti.

Saturday 23 January 2021

More ex-Hachette Illuminations at Yale University Art Gallery

As it turned out, there was only one day when Oxford libraries reopened after the Christmas and New Year break, before they had to close again due to new Covid restrictions. Fortunately, I had booked a slot on that day, and was therefore able to work through a list of things that I wanted to check. One of these was Charles Seymour's 1970 catalogue of Yale Art Gallery's early Italian paintings, which I had been unable to consult when writing this blog post.

For the sake of completeness, it seems worth providing a full list of the Lehman illuminations now at Yale, whose Hachette provenance has been unknown since 1954. I can now tabulate the Yale items with their respective numbers in the catalogues by Seymour [1], Pia Palladino [2], and the 1953 Hachette auction [3].

Saturday 16 January 2021

Contemporary Descriptions of Ottley's Portfolios

Samuel Rogers (1763-1855) [Source]

A little while ago I was very pleased to find a contemporary description of Ottley's portfolio of medieval illuminated manuscript cuttings, and in light of the recent posts about the sheets on which he mounted his cuttings, later bound into an album owned by Hoe and now at Harvard, it seemed worth sharing it now.

The story concerns Samuel Rogers [Wikipedia], one of the most celebrated English poets of his day (until his fame was eclipsed by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron), who was able to lead a life of leisure and art-collecting after inheriting a large share of his father's banking business. Of several possible portraits I have selected the one above because it gives a sense of his beady eyes, for reasons that will become apparent below.

Saturday 9 January 2021

The Hoe Album IV: More Ottley Identifications

In previous posts we have seen that five groups of cuttings from the Hoe Album, now at the Houghton Library, Harvard, can be confidently identified with five lots in the 1838 Ottley sale catalogue.

The first piece of evidence was the presence of a cutting signed by its illuminator, Frate Nebridio. From that firm foundation we found that other lots could be identified by a combination of features: their style, subject-matter, traces of erased pencil lot numbers, and the fact that they had all been bought by Payne.

Using the same kinds evidence, several more Harvard cuttings can be identified as coming from lots in the Ottley sale catalogue, and today we'll look at two of them.

Saturday 2 January 2021

The Hoe Album, III: Payne

My primary interest in the Hoe Album, until recently, was not Nebridio: it was the border cutting from the Murano Gradual, discussed here. But now that we have established that many or all of Hoe's Nebridio cuttings came from the Ottley sale, we can ask another queston: did Ottley also own the Murano cutting?