Wednesday 28 December 2022

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair VI: The Backstory

Anyone who has read my Part IV "Accusations" blogpost may have wondered about this paragraph, quoting from an email I wrote:

"I was previously unable to find your email address, so I have sent a series of messages to [ name removed ] who contacted me in August, and to the general address at, to which Noemi De Santis responded."

Perhaps it looks as if I might be hiding something, so in the interests of transparency I'll provide the backstory.

Tuesday 27 December 2022

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair IV: My "Accusations"

Continuing from this morning's post, the second part of the PDF recently uploaded to Prof. Rossi's page is titled: "Response to Mr Kidd's accusations on his blog".

If I fail to adequately address her claims below, please let me know. Again, I follow her numbering:

"1. In his blog post, Peter Kidd quotes two passages from the introductory part of your book that are very similar to passages from his blog. How do you explain this similarity?"

[Answer:] "We are both quoting Sotheby's 2017 sale catalogue"

First, it is notable that Rossi admits that in her book she is "quoting" the Sotheby's catalogue. And yet she does not cite it as a source.

Second, the Sotheby's description ends: "More than 20 of the miniatures are reproduced online as 'The Courtanvaux-Elmhirst Hours'": this refers to my page here, titled "The Courtanvaux-Elmhirst Hours", as would be immediately obvious to anyone who attempted to Google it. So although the Sotheby's description does not name me, it does allow "credit where credit is due".

Third, one reason that I am not named in the Sotheby's description, is because I wrote it. I thought it would be immodest to implicitly praise my own work by explicitly citing myself as its author.

"2. Did you consult Mr Kidd's blog during your research?"

This question does not get its own answer, but is covered by the answer to the next question:

"3. In a journal article on the same manuscript (TCLA 6/1, Aug. 2022, p. 25), you mention the blogger and his work in relation to the Roucy manuscript. Why is the reference to the blog missing in the book?"


"Simply because the blog was brought to my attention when the drafts of the book were closed, but I mentioned it in the Journal. However, I must honestly say that as the blog did not add anything new or original to what was already being gleaned from the auction catalogues, I did not feel, in the Journal, to quote it on a particular issue. I regret that my secretary succumbed to Kidd's insistent and unpleasant e-mails, which left no room for dialogue, and responded rudely without questioning me. The whole thing happened while I was travelling for the Christmas holidays and she had permission to answer my mail. We never imagined that such squalor could happen."

I leave readers to make up their own minds about whether they find this credible.

Let's look at the second part of that statement: "I regret that my secretary succumbed to Kidd's insistent and unpleasant e-mails, which left no room for dialogue, and responded rudely without questioning me. The whole thing happened while I was travelling for the Christmas holidays and she had permission to answer my mail."

To provide some context, I will explain that in the days before Christmas, I tried to contact Prof. Rossi using the general RECEPTIO email address,, pointing out some apparent examples of text and images being re-used from my blog in her book. Someone claiming to be "Noemi De Santis" responded, and I exchanged a few messages with her. On 23 December I wrote to as follows:

"Dear Prof. Rossi,

I was previously unable to find your email address, so I have sent a series of messages to [ name removed ] who contacted me in August, and to the general address at, to which Noemi De Santis responded.

Since I have not been able to contact you directly, I wanted to make sure that you are aware of the correspondence being conducted by Ms De Santis on behalf of Receptio, since she makes a number of legal threats and tells a number of untruths. 

Best wishes,

Peter Kidd"

Even using this email address I got a response from "Noemi":

"Dear Mr Kidd,

Please note: I am Professor Rossi's secretary, who is not aware of our correspondence. I manage this mail account.



Questions 4 and 5 do not concern "accusations" of mine, except insofar as I have already addressed the issue of Swiss funding.

"6. Peter Kidd states on his blog that he was the only one to include a colour scan and publication permission for a section of the manuscript ("miniature depicting St Mark"). He says you originally published this image in its coloured version (fol. 5r)."

[Answer begins:] "I obtained a bw image of St. Mark's miniature from the German dealer Hartung and not from Kidd’s blog.

I did NOT get a colour picture from Hartung, but we first worked with the publisher's graphic designer to colourise the black and white pictures using the "Colorize picture" application, as you can see on page 253 of my edition."

It is true that RECEPTIO had a black & white image of the leaf from the German auction house Hartung (as did I: I put it on my website several years ago, and it is still there). But I also later added a colour version of the image.

Does any reader really believe that a "Colorize picture" application can correctly guess all the colours -- including the figure's clothes, the areas of blank background, and the plumage of the bird in the border -- in an image like this?:

to produce this:

so accurately matching the original, which looks like this:

Personally, I think it stretches credibility beyond breaking point, especially as Rossi has now admitted that (despite earlier denials), she was aware of my blog site.

Monday 26 December 2022

The RECEPTIO-Rossi Affair, Part II: The Premises

[This post has been removed by Google twice now, doubtless at the request of you-know-who, but both times Google reinstated it after checking that it does not break any of their rules]

This can be read independently of Part I. If you have an interest in medieval manuscripts, academic publishing, copyright and "fair use", etc., I suggest you read the original blogpost (which has now been updated) as well.

MANY people on Twitter have provided various kinds of expertise and sleuthing skills, but I think I was the first person to notice, before 8am on Christmas Day, something curious about the London address of RECEPTIO:

Here are the individual images I attached to that tweet:


Most of the images used on the RECEPTIO website are either fake or deliberately misleading. Here for example, is their business sign (the filename is "fotocasaeditrice_JPG", Italian for 'publishing house photo'):

But this is just an edited version of a stock photo; here are other variants:

Other bloggers then found much more. The address is used by some disreputable companies who appeared in the so-called Paradise Papers [Wikipedia]. Not every company that used this address was doing anything illegal, but it is probably safe to suggest that most of them wanted to hide behind a fake/misleading London address which they could use for registering their company and receiving "official government mail". As the owning company website states, using such an address allows you to avoid appearing "small-time or amateur". In other words, to represent yourself as something else if you are, in fact, small-time or amateur.

As far as I can determine from the website, it is not possible to actually run a business at this address. Meeting rooms are available at £35 per hour, although they are "currently unavailable due to Covid-19".

Here is the front door on Google Streetview:
It seems to consist of a reception area on the ground floor, below five floors of apartments:

I was just about to add some misleading images from RECEPTIO's website showing their London Headquarters, but they seem to have been removed in the last few minutes. I'll add them here if they reappear ...

Ah! Here's one I had saved:
It's pretty different from the Meeting Rooms described above:

Saturday 24 December 2022

"Nobody cares about your blog!"

[Edit, 26 Dec. 2022, 9am: For anyone reading this for the first time, please note that a lot happened yesterday (Christmas Day) on Twitter, with many people contributing new information and insights concerning RECEPTIO. I will try to update the blog below later today [Edit: I have now done this], and will also aim to write another blog to document the reflect new revelations]

The title of my blog today is a quotation from an email I received yesterday from Noemi De Santis of RECEPTIO, the Research Centre for European Philological Tradition (website here).

It comes at a very opportune moment, because this week marked the 10th anniversary of the week I started blogging fairly regularly: since December 2012 I have posted an average of about 45 blogs per year, and I was wondering how to mark this milestone. I hope that the following blog will provide some entertainment for the Christmas holidays!

Saturday 10 December 2022

Another Leaf from the MdM and AdM Hours Found

Regular readers will know that I have been trying to trace leaves from a late 15th-century Book of Hours with unusual initials "MdM" and "AdM" in some of the margins (see here, here, and here).

One that has so far eluded me was reproduced in Maggs Bros., Catalogue 437: Books of Art and Allied Subjects (1923), no. 1159 plate LXI (of which a detail is shown above):

Saturday 3 December 2022

A Breviary Written at Lucca in 1464

For a few years I have been aware of leaves of a Breviary (of which an example is shown above) which had a colophon with the name of the scribe, and the place and date of completion: Lucca on 22 December 1464. But searches for the terms BreviaryLucca, and 1464 produce surprisingly few hits for institutional websites: most of the search results are for online dealer listings. I hope this blogpost will make the manuscript better known and lead to new identifications.

Saturday 26 November 2022

An Anonymous Auction in Paris in 1934

In a previous blogpost about "Another Hachette-Lehman-Yale Cutting" (here) I referred to the catalogue of an auction held in Paris in 1934, to which I did not have access at that time. I have now seen a copy, and it adds to the group of cuttings discussed in that blogpost.

Catalogue des dessins, aquarelles,
gouaches, anciens et modernes, ...
enluminures des XIVe et XVe siècles,
appartenant à Madame X ...
15 décembre 1934

Sunday 20 November 2022

The Office of the Dead and the Iken Psalter

The Office of the Dead is a text whose overall format is pretty consistent, but whose details vary significantly, according to different liturgical "Uses". The Office can be found in several types of liturgical and devotional manuscripts, often appearing at or near the end of a Psalter, for example, and it is a standard feature of Books of Hours. It can be particularly helpful in establishing where a book was made (or at least where it was intended to be used) when the Hours of the Virgin are missing, incomplete, or correspond to a very widespread Use such as the Use of Paris or Rome. One might find, for example, a Book of Hours illuminated by Parisian artists, with a Parisian Use for the Hours of the Virgin, but an Office of the Dead for the Use of Troyes: a sure clue to the area where the patron lived.

Sunday 6 November 2022

The Source of the Composition of a Fake Drawing

I am helping to catalogue the collection of leaves and fragments owned by the late Marvin Colker, which will be sold at Christie's in about a month's time. The collection contains lots of interest, and I have at least one more blogpost in preparation about items from it. Today I provide a very brief one, concerning the drawing above.

Saturday 22 October 2022

Two More Leaves of the MdM and AdM Hours

In May I wrote a blogpost about two leaves from a Book of Hours which has the initials "MdM" and "AdM" -- presumably of its husband and wife owners -- in the borders; they are at Montreal and Rochester, NY. By chance I found another leaf from the same manuscript while in the US in July, in Toledo, Ohio, and wrote another blogpost about them after my return. In the second of these posts I reproduced a page from a 1923 Maggs Bros catalogue, in which four leaves of the manuscript are described, including the Toledo one. 

I have now found two more leaves, at least one of which is described in the Maggs catalogue. The two new leaves do not have the telltale initials "MdM" and "AdM" in their borders, but I am confident -- based on the style of script and decoration, and the number of lines per page -- that they come from the same manuscript.

Saturday 15 October 2022

A New Leaf of the Quadripartite Miniatures Series (Paris, c.1340)

Perhaps the most exciting discovery of my summer trip to various collections in NY, OH, and Toronto was a wealth of unknown or little-known material at the Royal Ontario Museum. Among many interesting illuminated cuttings and text leaves is the quadripartite miniature shown above, a previously unrecognised member of a group of miniatures now scattered between private and institutional collections including the Lilly, Bodleian, and British Libraries, Fitzwilliam Museum, and Art Institute of Chicago.

Sunday 9 October 2022

Otto Ege's Limoges Missal (HL38)

The early 20th-century provenance of Otto Ege's Limoges Missal, leaves of which were no. 38 in his posthumous portfolio of Fifty Original Leaves, is already well established. Scott Gwara (Otto Ege's Manuscripts, 2013, HL38) records sales at Sotheby's, 26 March 1917, lot 799; American Art/Anderson Galleries, 20 January 1925, lot 288; and American Art/Anderson Galleries, 8 February 1926, lot 288.

Sunday 2 October 2022

Another Leaf of the Arrivabene Eusebius

Thanks to the kindness of Steven Galbraith of the Rochester Institute of Technology, I have just received images of some of the leaves I was unable to see in person while in Rochester this summer. They have all sorts of interesting items, but one in particular caught my attention, a detail of which is shown above.

A few years ago wrote a blogpost about "An Unnoticed Arrivabene Leaf at the Newberry Library" (here); it concerns one of two leaves formerly owned by Ernst F. Detterer (1888-1947) of Chicago, friend of Otto Ege, and now at the Newberry. I was unable to locate the second leaf, but I think it must be the one now at Rochester.

Saturday 17 September 2022

The Source of the Idea for the Lomax-Wade Collection?

 A very short post today, as I need to finish preparing my talk for next week's CULTIVATE MSS conference.

Regular readers may remember a series of posts about the "Lomax-Wade" collection of cuttings (here and following weeks): a collection of 120 illuminations (one of which is shown above) mounted on card and bound into a copy of Henry Shaw, Illuminated Ornaments Selected from Manuscripts of the Middle Ages (London, 1833):

"Henry Shaw, Illuminated Ornaments Selected from Manuscripts of the Middle Ages, extra-illustrated with one hundred and twenty cuttings from manuscripts [...]"

Although the book was published in 1833, this copy was in a binding signed by the noted London binder Charles Lewis, dated 1838.

I have recently discovered that in his catalogue for 1834, just a few years before the Lomax-Wade volume was bound, the London bookseller William Pickering offered some Italian illuminated cuttings for sale (doubtless from the Celotti collection, largely dispersed during the previous decade), recommending that they might be bound into a copy of Shaw's book!

"These original specimens would make an admirable addition to a copy of Mr. Shaw's Illuminated Ornaments."

Saturday 10 September 2022

More Ege Acquisitions from Dawson's Book Shop

Last week we looked at a manuscript sold by Dawson's Book Shop of Los Angeles, and broken up by Otto Ege (or perhaps Philip Duschnes). Today we'll look at a few more.

For the catalogue of French manuscripts in the collection of Bob McCarthy I traced eleven leaves with historiated initials from a Parisian Bible of about the 1330s  (of which a detail is shown above), and about sixteen more without historiated initials:

Saturday 3 September 2022

Dawson's of Los Angeles and Otto Ege's Aquinas (HL40)

[Photo by Mildred Budney]

One of the better-known and easily recognised ex-Ege manuscripts was a copy of Thomas Aquinas's Commentary on Peter Lombard's Sentences, Book I, of which a leaf is shown above. Leaves from the manuscript are included as no. 40 in Ege's most famous portfolio: Fifty Original Leaves of Medieval Manuscripts, issued by his widow two years after his death in 1951.

Although Philip Duschnes of New York was apparently the first dealer to offer single leaves of the manuscript, it is likely that Ege was responsible for breaking it up: not only did he have enough leaves to include in his 1942(?) portfolio of Original Leaves from Famous Books, Nine Centuries as well as the posthumous Fifty Original Leaves portfolios, but a cache of 32 leaves from his collection was sold by his heirs at Sotheby's in 1985. The finest leaf of the manuscript was retained by the Ege heirs as part of the "Family Album", acquired by the Beinecke Library several years ago; if Duschnes had broken up the volume, he would doubtless have sold this leaf.

I wrote a blogpost about the provenance of the manuscript last year. We know that the volume was still intact in 1925-26 when offered for sale by the bookselling firm of Davis & Orioli, based in Florence and London. It was also still intact when owned by an "Unidentified American bookseller", but was broken by 1941, when Duschnes offered leaves in his Catalogue 48.

Saturday 27 August 2022

An Unnoticed 1834 Auction Catalogue

Yesterday I discovered an apparently unrecorded catalogue for an auction held at Dulwich, south London, by "Mr Shuttleworth". The front page of the 4-leaf catalogue is shown above; it mentions:

"several very beautiful 'MISSAL DRAWINGS' [...] from the Papal Sacristy [...] by the celebrated Miniaturist, Buonfratelli [...]"

Following the descriptions of lots 38-43 is the note that they:

"were spoils from the Papal Sacristy of the Vatican, at the last entry of the French into Rome, and were brought to England by the Abbate Celotti"

Saturday 20 August 2022

Manuscripts from the Collection of W. Charles Fewtrell

A couple of years ago (in this post) we looked at some of the illuminated cuttings, since dispersed, from an intersting album, and we later (in this one) identified the owner as W. Charles Fewtrell of Liverpool.

He also owned at least two albums of material relating to medieval manuscripts compiled by John Bradley, the author of important 19th-century works including A Dictionary of Miniaturists, Illuminators, Calligraphers and Copyists, with Reference to Their Works and Notices of Their Patrons ... (3 vols., 1887-89).

Saturday 13 August 2022

More Leaves from the MdM and AdM Hours

During my recent trip to the US I visited the Memorial Art Gallery of the Univeristy of Rochester (NY), and was able to examine the leaf of the Book of Hours which has the initials MdM and AdM in the borders, about which I wrote in this post

Saturday 6 August 2022

Initials from the Murano Gradual, Now at Reims

I have just found a clutch of a dozen more foliate minor initials from the Murano Gradual (about which I wrote in March, here) at the Musée Saint-Remi, Reims. It is notable that some of them are cropped right to the edges of the illumination, as in the example above; all twelve are shown below.

Saturday 4 June 2022

More About the Regensburg "GERWIRCH" Antiphonary

NYC, Morgan Library, MS M.870.2 [Source]

About four years ago I wrote a post in which I reproduced most of the leaves of a broken-up Antiphonary, and shared my discovery of a 1945 description of the intact volume, telling us more about it before its dismemberment.

I have now found an even earlier description of the complete volume, which supplies a few extra details.

Saturday 28 May 2022

Leaves from Cicero, De oratore, written in 1453

University of Rochester, D.460 1353-001 [Source]

In preparation for a manuscripts safari this summer, I am combing through online library catalogues of collections in New York state for manuscripts of interest. The Rush Rhees Library of the University of Rochester has an online handlist of its medieval and early modern manuscripts, for example, and one that particularly caught my eye is this:

The precise date "1353", suggests that the cataloguer knew something about the parent manuscript, and reminded me of Otto Ege's Dominican Missal dated 1353. As luck would have it, this is one of only two medieval manuscripts for which images are available online, so I was able to have a look; a whole-page view is shown above. 

Sunday 22 May 2022

MdM and AdM


Occasionally a provenance clue consists of the initials of the the forenames of the owner and his/her spouse, joined by a so-called "love-knot".

I recently noticed an example that has not two, but three initials, "M", "d", and "M", as above; here is the full page:

McGill University, MS 104

The presence of three initials struck me as odd, but I didn't give it any more thought.

Saturday 14 May 2022

Frederic Madden's Journal: The Rogers Sale

I have mentioned at least twice before the potential importance of distinguishing between the first day of a multi-day auction (which is how people usually cite auctions), and the day on which a particular manuscript was actually sold, as the latter could be several weeks later. One situation in which we may need to know the day on which a manuscript sold, is when we are trying to find references to it in things like personal diaries and journals, or newspaper reports. 

Many people are aware of the value of Sydney Cockerell's diaries (now at the BL) for finding out about auctions of the first half of the 20th century, but it seems that too few people use the journals of Frederic Madden for information about 19th-centuy sales.

Sunday 8 May 2022

"The School of Giotto"

One of the challenges of provenance research is interpreting catalogue descriptions when there is no accompanying image to verify the identity of a manuscript. The task would be simpler if catalogue descriptions were always accurate, but they sometimes contain typographical errors; sometimes written statements are open to different interpretations and are therefore ambiguous; sometimes cataloguers get things wrong in good faith; and they often get things wrong by being overly optimistic in their attributions.

Saturday 30 April 2022

Buyers and Prices at the Rogers Sale in 1856


I have written several times about the need to locate multiple annotated copies of auction catalogues, because the annotations in any one copy cannot be trusted as reliable. And I have written (e.g. here) about the need to distinguish between the date on which a manuscript was sold and the date on which the auction commenced, because these are often not the same. In looking at the famous 1856 sale at Christie's of the collection of the poet Samuel Rogers (mentioned e.g. here), both these principles are exemplified, as will be discussed today and in next weekend's post.