BIBLE, Cistercian

A MONUMENTAL 12TH-CENTURY CISTERCIAN LATIN BIBLE

BOOKS OF ISAIAH, JEREMIAH, EZEKIEL, DANIEL, EPISTLES, ACTS, APOCALYPSE AND GOSPELS. Illuminated manuscript on vellum.

Italy, Lombardy, circa 1170-1190.

£240,000

460 x 310 mm, 251 leaves on parchment, substantially complete: I8-1 (i excised, probably blank), II-XIII8, XIV8+2 (bifolium added between vi and vii), XV-XVII8 (iii and vi as singletons), XVIII-XXXI8), wanting a quire after VIII (fol. 63), two after XXIV (fol. 194), and quire XXXII but for fol. 251, Catchwords at lower margin of last verso of quires; paper flyleaf and conjoint pastedown at beginning and end. 325 x 204 (93, 21, 90) mm; ruled for two columns and 34 lines of text in lead point, pricking at upper and lower margins and fore-edge (from recto), additional vertical line between the bounders dividing the two columns. North-Italian transitional caroline script (Littera carolina) in brown, corrections and additions in black throughout and text on additional leaves 110-111 provided by a second contemporary North-Italian Cistercian hand (Littera protogothica textualis); marginal notes referring to readings in the refectory in the Gospels: “Hic dimittatur legere in refectorio” (fols 201r,  215r, 239r) and “Hic incipiatur legere” (fols 217v, 242r); marginal chapter references in an Italian hand in grey ink throughout, c.1400. Rubrics, often with notes in small hand (littera glossularis), in lower (occasionally upper) margin as on fol. 109v, providing guidance to the rubricator, chapter numbers and marginal numbering of the biblical readings (Lc .I. , Lc .II. etc) in red throughout; running titles by rubricator in red at beginning and end of gatherings up to fol. 103r, otherwise in dark brown or grey ink by different hands to the end of the Epistles (fol. 166v). Two large initials (9-15 lines), the first in blue, the second blue and red, both with penwork decoration in red, blue and green and followed by first words of text in red capitals touched in blue (fols 2r and 35v); one large 7 line initial in blue with reserved blank and penwork decoration in red and yellow (fol. 95v); similar large initials (6-13 lines) in red, occasionally extending into the margin, at beginning of texts (fols 119v-242v); minor initials (2-4 lines) in red, green and red (fol. 15v) or blue and red (fol. 107v) throughout. Three large initials (16-25 lines) in red with reserved red and black penwork decoration supplied to the additional text on fols 110r, 111r and 111v. Strong Italian parchment, with a number of natural flaws and some cuts with medieval repairs (see fol. 20); fol. 119 with a long horizontal cut, but complete; lower margin of fols 232-233 and 237 and fore-edge of fol. 238 cut away; overall in good condition. In later brown sheepskin over unbevelled wooden boards, some scuffmarks, sewn on four double-split spine bands of alum-tawed skin, two endbands on parchment core with yellow sewing thread, now loose, and title “Quat. [?] Proph. mai / et / Plus [?].Lib.N.Test.” on spine, shelfmark “229” in black ink on upper pastedown; shelfmarks “35” and “67” on spine, all 17th/18th century.

This splendid volume was produced in Northern Italy in the second half of the twelfth century for the use of a monastery of the Cistercian order, established in 1098 by Robert of Molesme at Cîteaux. The unusual order of the biblical texts (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel; Epistles, Acts and Apocalypse; the Gospels), reflects a programme of reading in the Night Office carried out in Cistercian communities from Advent to Epiphany, Lent, and Easter to Pentecost (ordo librorum ad legendum; Reilly 2005, pp. 169-170). The Cistercians included the reading of the four Gospels into the refectory element of their annual cycle, but excluded the Passion narratives as highlighted in the manuscript by the marginal notes “Hic dimittatur legere in refectorio” (fols 201r,  215r, 239r) (Webber 2010, pp. 20 n. 47, 32). The large size of the volume, the two-column layout, well-spaced lettering and use of red minor initials throughout were designed to assure legibility for reading aloud. The additional punctuation supplied by the second hand in a darker ink in accordance with the Cistercian practice of indicating short, medium and long pauses in the reading, supplied further helpful guidance (Parkes 1992, pp. 195, 197). The textual corrections by this second hand testify to the attention paid to the correctness of biblical texts in accordance with St Bernard of Clairvaux’s wishes.

The sober yet elegant decoration of the initials also follows the Cistercian practice of austerity, including restrained decoration in their manuscripts. The initials to Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel are similar in style to those found in a 12th-century manuscript Bible now in the Biblioteca Civica “Angelo Mai” at Bergamo, MA 600 (olim Alpha V 17; see Zizzo), with an almost certain Cistercian origin. The three initials in red with reserved and red and black penwork decoration on leaves 110r-111v are consistent with the decoration of Cistercian manuscripts produced in Italy, as in two 12th-century codices; an Office lectionary at Harvard, Houghton Library, Typ 223 online at http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/collections/early_manuscripts/bibliographies/Typ.cfm, from the Abbey of Morimondo (Ferrari 1993, p. 299) and from Acquafredda Abbey (see Ferrari 1993, p. 295) a 12th century Commentary on The Old Testament-Pentateuch by Isidore of Seville and Hugh of St Victor’s Rex Salomon, now at Berkeley, Bancroft Library, MS UCB 16.

Both these manuscripts have covers almost identical to the present, and bear similar titles on the second spine compartment, also found on Jerome’s Commentary on the Minor Prophets, now Milan, Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, Gerli MS 12, identified by Ferrari (Ferrari 1999, pp. 36, 41-42, 44) as one of the manuscripts mentioned in the twelfth-century book list from the Abbey of Morimondo found on the last verso of the Abbey’s Office lectionary mentioned above (Houghton Library, Typ 223).

The present manuscript shares the same 18th-century provenance, if not origin, as those three manuscripts now at Milan, Berkeley and Cambridge. From the beginning of the eighteenth century many manuscripts from Cistercian abbeys in Lombardy were collected at the monastery of S. Ambrogio in Milan to support the programme of cultural reform promoted by the Congregation of St Bernard in Italy and the Austrian government. On arrival at S. Ambrogio, they may have been supplied with new covers and a manuscript title on the spine. The present manuscript must have arrived about the same time, when the influx increased exponentially with the suppressions of the monasteries in the last quarter of the century; many of these codices were then dispersed onto the open market. A good number were acquired by the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, but many entered private collections, such as those of the marchesi Trivulzio of Milan, Count Francesco Giovio (1796 – 1873) of Como, and Matteo Luigi Canonici (1727 – 1805), Jesuit and antiquarian of Venice, further dispersed through later sales.

A twentieth-century note in English pencilled on the upper flyleaf suggests that this manuscript may have passed through the hands of the bookseller Giuseppe (Joseph) Martini of Lugano between 1913 and 1942, though it is not mentioned by Ferrari in her list of Cistercian manuscripts described in Martini’s catalogues (Ferrari 1999, pp. 34-35). It was Martini who probably invented the myth of provenance from the library of the celebrated humanist Paolo Giovio (1483 – 1552) still recorded in the literature of some Italian Cistercian manuscripts (see Berkeley, University of California, Bancroft Library, MS UCB 16, in Digital Scriptorium).

K56

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BIBLE

A COMPLETE EARLY-THIRTEENTH CENTURY PORTABLE PARISIAN BIBLE

Illuminated manuscript on vellum

France, Paris or Amiens, 13th century (2nd quarter).

£150,000

146 x 95 mm, 656 leaves on parchment: I12, II-XII24, XIII26, XIV-XVII24, XVIII18, with no catchwords or leaf signatures; flyleaves at the beginning and end, the first and last used as pastedowns; modern foliation in pencil “1-655” repeating no. 521 (followed here). Justification 98 x 66/67 (30/31 x 5/6 x 30/31) mm ruled in lead point with two vertical bounding lines for two columns and 42 horizontal lines for 41 lines of text, with two extra horizontal lines; pricking holes for vertical bounders showing occasionally in the lower margins; two extra horizontal lines (3 mm apart) at circa 9-11 mm from upper ruled horizontal line and circa 15-19 mm from lower. Very small Gothic French bookhand (Textualis) deriving from glossing script, often called ‘pearl script’ (Perlschrift), in dark brown ink; less formal small Gothic hand influenced by documentary script for the added index of liturgical readings at end (fols. 653v-656v) (apparently unfinished); headings and highlighting of capitals in red, running-titles and chapter numbers in alternating red and blue capitals, versal initials in Psalms (fols 276r-303v) and Interpretationes (fols. 591r-653v; capitals not executed and dedicated space left blank from letter E onwards), chapter initials (2-15 lines high) in alternating red and blue with contrasting pen-flourished decoration throughout, 66 large puzzle initials (3-39 lines high, mostly 4-6 lines) in red and blue with pen-flourished decoration in red or red and blue, 78 large illuminated initials (from 3-line to column high, mostly 7-9 lines), in designs of spiralling foliage, occasionally inhabited by small dragons or other grotesque animals, in colours (blue, red, pink, green and white) and shell-gold. A few marginal 15th-century notes in light brown ink (see fols 248v, 425r and 425v, the latter by a Northern continental hand) and manicula in red (fol. 144v). Parchment (?) tabs marking the beginning of books removed. Thin parchment of good quality, with slight cockling, and a short cut at the fore-edge of some leaves caused by the removal of parchment tabs marking the beginning of books. Running titles occasionally cropped by the binder. C. 1500 binding, probably Flemish, light brown calf over bevelled wooden boards, sewn on four raised double-split spine bands, covers tooled in blind to a panel design, outer panel filled with a blind tooled heads-in-medallion roll, second panel with blind fleuron, rosette and leaves tools, and central panel semé with blind-tooled fleurons, with two long decorated brass catches at fore-edge of upper cover, and two stubs of calf-leather straps for fastening clasps (missing) secured at fore-edge of lower cover by two brass plaquettes; spine, edges and corners restored. 18th-century shelf marks on verso of third upper flyleaf and corner of lower pastedown; 19th century shelf mark “105/ 100_9 [or 1] i” in pencil at lower edge of upper pastedown. Preserved in wooden book box.

This charming and prettily decorated portable Bible is an untouched and unspoiled early example of the Parisian Bible of the 13th century. It was copied and decorated in the second quarter of the century, shortly after university theologians completed the standardization of the biblical texts. The new Vulgate had been created to facilitate university teachers and members of the preaching orders, who often travelled between universities, monasteries and church congregations in different parts of the country. It was therefore conceived as a text that could be copied in volumes of diminutive format, written on very fine parchment in the tiny formal Gothic script mostly used until then for marginal glosses. The new biblical vulgate started circulating in its final form about 1230. The present manuscript is therefore an early representative of the Parisian Vulgate. The text is complete and all the canonical prologues, each rubricated in full and decorated with an illuminated or a pen-flourished initial.

The initials are elegantly decorated with twirling rinceaux in colour and gold, and sometime include small dragons or other grotesque winged animals intertwined with the scrolling foliage. The puzzle initials, formed of interlocked scalloped segments in red and blue separated by a thin white line, are filled with curling pen-work decoration dotted in blue. A similarly curling and dotted decoration surrounds them and elongates into the margins in elegant pen strokes of red and blue. The style of the painted decoration resembles closely to works of the Parisian workshop known as the “Vie de saint Denis Atelier” (active 1230-1250) for the Benedictines of the Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs in Paris and the Cistercians of Clairvaux Abbey (see Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de france, MS latin 233). It also closely recalls the style of manuscripts produced at the same time in Amiens, Northern France for the Benedictine Abbeys of Anchin, and Marchiennes (see Douai, Bibliothèque Municipale, MSS 18, 20 and 21). The small codicological feature of parchment tabs marking the beginning of books, now removed from the present manuscript, adds a further link to manuscript Bibles produced at Amiens for monastic use (see R. Branner, Manuscript Paintings in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis; a Study of Styles, Berkeley, 1977, cat. 210, pl. X).

In the 13th century the manuscript was used in a monastic or ecclesiastical institution as indicated by the index of liturgical readings added at the end of the volume by a 13th-century hand which was more used to writing monastic cartularies or ecclesiastical deeds than liturgical books. The prominence given to the feast of St Vincent of Saragossa (22 January) at the beginning of the readings for the Proper of the Saints, suggests a particular devotion to the saint.  St Vincent is the patron saint of Macon and Viviers in France, Berne in Switzerland and Soignies in Belgium. A particular veneration for St Vincent and the probable Flemish origin of the fifteenth century binding combine to point to the collegiate church of St Vincent at Soignies as the probable 13th-century owner. St Vincent’s was built as the church of the Benedictine Abbey founded by St Vincent Madelgarius (d. 677), a Flemish nobleman. Soignies Abbey was dissolved and transformed in secular Chapter in the 11th century.

In the 17th century the book was in Prussia, in the possession of Johann Friedrich Bessel, a philologist of Tilsit, respondent and praeses at the Universities of Wittenberg and Helmstedt between 1654 and 1667. Left after Bessel’s death with others of his book to Christopher Horch Senior, possibly the father of the German physician Christopher Horch (1667-1754) of Berlin, it was given by Horch to an unidentifed individual on 13 February 1682 (“Hac Biblia manuscripta donata / mihi fuit à Dn. Christophero / Horch Sen. ex libris relictis / B. Dn. M. Besselj / Anno 1682 .d. 13 Febr.” on upper pastedown). The unnamed recipient of the book was probably either Heinrich Bartsch (1627-1702), councillor, treasurer and vice-mayor of Könisberg, who gave his collection to Könisberg Stadtbibliothek, or his son Heinrich Bartsch Jr (1667-1728), a jurist at the University of Wittenberg. In 1718 the library was opened to the public by Bartsch Junior, who donated his collection of Bibles.

In the 19th century the book was stamped “Stadtbibliothek Koenigsberg” twice in the lower margin of fol. 1 recto. The Bible is mentioned in the library catalogue A. Seraphim, Handschriften-Katalog der Stadtbibliothek Königsberg i.Pr., Königsberg i.Pr., 1909, p. 300. The library was destroyed by a bomb in August 1944. Since 1946 Königsberg has been part of Russia.

K36

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CZECH LAWS, Renewed Land Orders of 1627


Obnovené právo a Zrízení zemské dedicného království Ceského.

Prague, 1627.

£13,500

Folio. (iii) 238 (v) ll. unsigned and unpaginated. Binding 22 x 30.3cm, text block 13 x 24cm , approx. 32 lines per page. Black ink in a cursive Czech hand, sidenotes in Gothic and addenda in a German Gothic hand. contemp ms. herbal remedies on ffeps. larger headings, sidenotes, and an index, title with elaborate ink flourishes. Some age yellowing, a very good, clean copy, all edges black. In black calf over wooden boards, spine with raised bands, lacking clasps. Ownership inscription of Jana Vacsl. Rozumasky, 1884, on fly.

A very rare, elegantly written manuscript in Czech of the entire legal resettlement of Bohemia carried out by Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II (1578-1637). After his victory at the Battle of White Mountain (1620) over Frederick V, Elector Palatine, Ferdinand determined to eliminate any Protestant threat to his power and consolidate Hapsburg control over Bohemia. The ordinances contained here overturn Rudolph II’s 1609 Letter of Majesty that codified religious tolerance, and forbid all confessions except Catholicism and Judaism. They abolish the elective monarchy, destroying the balance of power between estates and consolidating all power in the Emperor, while restoring the once disenfranchised Catholic clergy to the first estate. Legislative power is confined entirely to Ferdinand, and his role in hearing appeals from the courts equally strengthened. The oath of allegiance is revised; once sworn to the commonwealth, it is now to the king alone and the continuing possession of public office, position, and estates depended on this oath being taken. In addition, patents to the nobility become entirely at the discretion of the King, who in turn sidestepped the tradition of appointing only Bohemian natives and moved the court from Prague to Vienna. The changes introduced here resulted in the reassignment of over one-half of all estates in Bohemia, much of the primarily Protestant nobility was effectively dispossessed, fled as rebels or faced execution.

Consistent with this policy of ‘Hapsburgisation’ these ordinances also elevated the German language to the same official status as Czech, although by 1627 it was already the language spoken at Court. A German edition of these ordinances was printed in 1627 as Verneuerte Landesordnung des Erbkönigreichs Böhaimb, with an incomplete Czech edition including only articles up to F.1 (about a third of the book). No Czech edition was printed until 1888, in Leipzig, edited by the legal historian Hermenegild Jire_k. This complete contemporary Czech translation, matching the German even to the “Index or Ordering of the Titles of the Renewed Land Order” after the text, is a rare and vitally important work in the legal and constitutional history of the Czech people.

The Strahov Monastery owns the only other complete copy we have found, although without the additional six and a half pages in German Gothic hand included here, after the index. These pages contain a transcription of a letter dated 11 September 1654 that summarises the contents of the Land Order, addressed to Primate Graf Jaroslav von Bubna, quite possibly for whose use the manuscript was written. The quality of production indicates a commission for a client of importance. Despite the predominance of German at the highest levels of government, accurate and complete Czech translations would have been necessary to ensure enforcement and consistency between both essential.

Sayer, “The Coasts of Bohemia”, 45. Evans, “Making of the Hapsburg Monarchy”, 198-200.

L1005

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TRIO OF MUSICIANS

A FINELY-PAINTED INITIAL FOR A XVTH CENTURY ITALIAN CARTHUSIAN MONASTERY

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Historiated initial C, from an ILLUMINATED CHOIRBOOK ON VELLUM.

Lombardy Emilia, 1460-70.

£5,750

92x100mm. A MONK IN WHITE SERGE SWINGS THE CLAPPERS OF TWO BELLS inside a pointroofed tower flanked by a foreshortened building, ACCOMPANIED BY A PIPER wearing a blue hat AND A LUTE PLAYER in a yellow and red dress, against a landscape of a green hill and a blue-nuanced sky pointed by floating golden clouds. The stave of light green with white tracery is adorned by fleshy acanthus leaves in crimson and pink highlighted in white and with curled up terminations, a blue pearl enriches the decoration, on a burnished gold ground outlined in black. Framed, in very good condition (not examined on reverse).

This initial probably opened the introit ‘Cantate Domino canticum novum’ on the fourth Sunday after Easter. One of the musicians is a tonsured monk in white hooded serge; it is likely the choirbook from which the leaf came was for a Carthusian monastery. The Carthusians were widely spread in the XVth century in Northern and Central Italy.

This is a very beautiful and accomplished miniature; its palette of bright colours, the curled up foliage of the stave highlighted in white, the little clouds and soft brush strokes are reminiscent of the stylistic characteristics of the late works of Belbello of Pavia, after the Missale of Barbara of Brandenburg (F. Lollini, Giovanni Belbello da Pavia in Dizionario bibliografico dei miniatori italiani, a cura di Milvia Bollati, Milano 2004, pp. 273-6).

PROVENANCE: The Holford Collection (sold at Sotheby’s, 12 July 1927, lot 13).
Reference: Dorchester House catalogue, Oxford 1927, vol. 1, n. 24(b) p.22, Plate XXIV.

L914

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RESURRECTION

A BEAUTIFUL IMAGE OF RISING CHRIST IN A MINIATURE FROM THE MEDIEVAL CENTRAL ITALY

Historiated initial ‘E’, cut from an illuminated choirbook on vellum.

Central Italy, first half of 14th century.

£3,750

(164×125 mm.) Half-length rising Christ wrapped in a red cloth and showing his wounds in the upper compartment and two angels either side of the tomb with an open book in the lower compartment, on light pink ground, within an initial E with acanthus staves in blue and red, on blue adorned with white tracery and large gold bezants and outlined in black. On the right edge traces of four-line red staves and text. On the reverse lines of text and 4-line red staves. (Framed; a couple of waterstains touching the initial on the right side, a sign of folding in the middle; otherwise good).

This initial might have introduced the Easter antiphon “Et respicientes”, as the representation of the Resurrection suggests.

The strength and beauty of this work is due to its fresh simplicity. The style, essential and genuine, with its palette of colour is evocative of 14th century illumination from the central regions of Italy, perhaps Tuscany.

L840

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FIVE HISTORIATED INITIALS

FIVE INITIALS FROM A LAVISHLY ILLUSTRATED GRADUAL OF THE BEGINNING OF THE 16TH CENTURY: AN EXCEPTIONALLY RICH PROJECT OF DECORATION

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ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, from a Gradual, in Latin.

Beginning of 16th century.

£7,750

(71x67mm.) THE CHRIST CHILD sitting on the grass and HOLDING A GLOBE against a short brown wall, beyond the wall a far landscape with high mountains and clouds, WITHIN AN orange INITIAL K with staves of acanthus leaves and jewels, highlighted in white, on a light pink ground of scattered flowers outlined in black. On the right trace of a four-line stave ruled in red.

(71x57mm.) A BOY CLUBBING A DOG in a mountainous landscape WITHIN AN INITIAL I of pale pink and blue acanthus leaves including a grotesque face, on a ground of liquid gold. On the left trace of a four-line stave in red and text.

(71x66mm.) AN ASCENDING SOUL helped by an angel ABOVE A LONG-HORNED STAG SWIMMING, in a large landscape, WITHIN AN INITIAL S of green, mauve, and orange acanthus staves, touched in white, on a yellow ground.

(75x71mm.) A MAN FROM BEHIND KNEELING IN PRAYER TO CHRIST, seated on a rainbow amongst the clouds of the sky (as at the Last Judgement), in a deep landscape, WITHIN AN INITIAL R with acanthus blue staves highlighted in white, on a green ground adorned with acanthus leaves and outlined in black. On the right fragment of a red four-line stave.

(67x68mm.) A MAN KNEELING BEFORE A PRIEST ADMINISTERING COMMUNION, on the back an altar with two women, jointing their hands in prayer and watching the scene, and an altarpiece of the Crucifixion, WITHIN AN INITIAL Q with blue acanthus leaves highlighted in white and adorned with pearls, on a green ground patterned with curling hairline tendrils and outlined by a double black fillet. On the right faint trace of a red four-line stave.

Framed all together; on the reverses remains of text and 4-line red staves; slight rubbing in a couple of places, else in very good condition.

According to the textual and musical fragments on the reverse of a couple of our cuttings, the five capitals come from a Gradual. Indeed, the K probably opened the Kyrie eleison (since there are remains of the Gloria on the reverse of the letter); the Q marked the Communion for Corpus Christi. The iconography also contributes to the identification.

The sophisticate acanthus staves are typical of early sixteenth century German initials in both illuminated and printed books. The illuminator of our initials, however, was aware of the rules and the power of the Renaissance painting, known in Germany trough the masterpieces of Dürer, Cranach and Altdorfer. The atmospheric landscapes characterized by distant silverblue shapes of mountains, the effect of the movement in the water, the smooth brush, the attention paid to details such as the subtle termination of the stave curled around Christ’s tiny foot or the costumes in the Communion scene (the woman’s one indicating a date around 1520) make this artist and accomplished painter of the early Renaissance.

The Gradual from which our initials came seems to have been lavishly adorned with historiated initials, not just for the introits. This rich project was exceptional and certainly reserved for very important books.

PROVENANCE: W.M. Voelkle and R.S. Wieck, The Bernard Breslauer Collection of Manuscript Illuminations, Cat. of the exhibition, New York, The Pierpont Morgan Library, 9 December 1992 – 4 April 1993, New York 1992, nos. 50-54.

L832

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CARACCIOLO, Marino II, Prince of Avellino


Highly decorative and unusually large law degree certificate.

Naples, 8 June 1627.

£3,750

Manuscript in brown ink on fine vellum (56 x 76 cm), 42 lines including ornamental heading gilt, ornate floral decorations in blue, magenta and orange, in a legible humanist minuscule, several words in gilt capitals, outer and upper margins with wide ornamental borders in five colours and gilt, incorporating two coats-of arms, two portrait medallions in corners and one medallion depicting the Virgin consoling Christ on the Cross; small hole in lower margin and semi-circular from lower edge slightly, affecting ornamental border (perhaps due to loss of seal). A very good copy, lightly spotted in places; mounted, framed and glazed.

This splendid late humanist document conferring a law degree from Naples University to the 21-year old Giovanni Tomaso Compara (of the Neapolitan family now known as Acampora, or D’Acampora) was issued under the auspices of Marino Caracciolo, member of one of the most powerful Neapolitan patrician families. Marino II was Lord High Chancellor of the kingdom, and as such had the right to grant the doctor’s cap or laurea. As Prince of Avellino (1617-30) his Southern Italian town grew considerably and developed into a regional cultural centre. The court attracted artists and writers, such as Giambattista Basile, renowned for one of the earliest collections of fairy tales in Europe, the Neapolitan Cunto delli cunti.

Campora passed his degree of canon and civil law ‘summo cum honore, maximisque laudibus’ and this certificate, intended for display, entitles him to ‘lecture on both laws, interpret, comment and practice it’. One of the coat-of-arms is that of Caracciolo, it contains a depiction of the golden fleece of the Imperial order of which he was a knight. The other is most likely the Compara family. In the upper corners are portraits of Saint Francis Xavier, the co-founder of the Society of Jesus, depicted as usual with his hands crossed in front of his chest. The other, fictitious, is that of Thomas Aquinas, one of the most notable alumni of the University of Naples.

Manuscripts of this type are not uncommon but the dimensions, richness, and quality of the decoration of this example are exceptional.

CJS3

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ANTHROPOMORPHIC INITIAL I

Illuminated Manuscript in Latin on a leaf from an Antiphonal.

Central Italy, mid-14th century.

£1,850

Folio (475 x 340 mm). On recto seven four-line staves in red, music in square notation alternating with seven line text in brown ink in a gothic bookhand; a couple of initials with pen-work flourishing, in red with blue, in blue with red; numbered 291 on upper margin. INITIAL I (body: 145 x 25 mm) composed wholly of a human figure with hat, dressed in light blue and red, on a blue background with white tracery; leafy extensions in light pink and blue developing from the hat and the feet into the inner and upper margins. On verso seven four-line staves in red, music in square notation alternating with seven line text written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand; red pen-work initial with blue flourishing. Slightly worn in the lower part with loss of a few letters, otherwise good.

TWO VERY APPEALING LEAVES FROM A MID-14TH CENTURY ANTIPHONAL DECORATED BY A CENTRAL ITALIAN ARTIST. The initial I opens the response ‘In montem Oliveti oravi ad patrem pater si fieri potest’ on Holy Thursday. According to the Catholic liturgical year, these two leaves marked, in the same Antiphonal, the beginning and the end of Lent (from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday).

Two early attractive, unsophisticated leaves; the characteristic foliate extensions, the palette of delicate colours and the style indicate a Central Italian origin (possibly Tuscany), from the mid-14th century.

L876

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CATHOLIC CHURCH, CURIA

A RENAISSANCE TREASURE STYLE BINDING


Bullae et statuta officii septem sedis apostolicae potonotariorum in Curia Romana participandum.

Rome, not before 1556, 1621-1661 and 1825.

£49,500

Manuscript on Vellum. Large 4to. pages 191/2cm x 27cm; 4 ruled and blank ll., 69 numbered pages of text, further 45 ll ruled and blank. Pp. 1-43 in elegant brown C16th cancellaresca formata, headings in red., 43-56 in C17th humanistic hand with separated letters, pp. 57-64 in more ornate vernacular variant, last in C19 copperplate, on uniform high quality vellum. In a stunning unrestored Roman binding, probably last quarter of the C16 in purple velvet over wooden boards, 8 large rectangular gilt metal corner pieces depicting scenes from the life of Christ, large central gilt oval on upper cover depicting a protonotary vested formally with quill and book within carved and chiselled floral surround, oval with similar border on lower ‘VII VIRORUM PROTONOTAR. BULLAE AC. STATUTA’ inscribed on central ornamental panel. Four richly carved gilt metal clasps, one loosening, catches lacking, velvet worn on spine and edges.

An exceptional manuscript copy of the papal bulls and statutes setting out the duties powers and privileges of the Apostolic Protonotaries of the Roman Church from the 1560’s until the early C19. This was the, or an official copy used either by the Protonotarial office or by one of their number, perhaps the figure depicted in the gilt oval on the upper cover. The papal Bulls forming and reforming the office from Callistus to Adrian VI occupy the first 21 pages, the relevant statutes pp. 23-43 and further Bulls of Urban VIII and Alexander VII from pp 43-59. Pp. 60-64 comprise the agreement of the protonotaries drafted 21st September 1661 concerning the division of their emoluments, signed by each of them and formally attested by the Curial pro-secretary Giovani Manfroni and the final pages the reforms of Gregory XVI.

The Protonotaries Apostolic were members of the highest college of prelates of the Roman Curia, deriving their office from the seven regional notaries of Rome in late antiquity, and the senior lawyer-administrators of the C16 Catholic church charged with the issue of Papal Bulls and other legislative or quasi legislative Papal documents. On the further development of Papal administration, secular and religious, they remained the supreme palace notaries of the Papal Chancery and in the middle ages were very high ranking officials. Sixtus V increased their number to 12, though ‘honories’ were also appointed, Gregory XVI re-established the college of real protonotaries with seven members in 1838. The pronotarial office is of particular interest as at the same time the precursor of the modern state bureaucracy and a functional link with the ancient world.

This remarkably beautiful almost ‘treasure’ binding is an extremely scarce survivor of a binding style typical of de luxe presentation copies from the mid C15 to mid C17 centuries . Unfortunately plush velvet is not a durable material and gilt ornaments tended to part company with their binding at the first opportunity. It is of the utmost rarity to find one on the market intact with all its ornaments in place. The eight corner pieces (approximately 4 x 4 1/2” including frame) recount sequentially the events of the Passion from the Garden of Gethsemane to Burial in the Tomb. The representations are life like, the action vivid and the relief and general condition is excellent. They were probably made for and are certainly contemporary with the binding. They are almost certainly Roman (cf Rossi Placchette 65-151) and may derive from the frescos of Sebastiano del Piombo in the church of San Pietro in Montorio in Rome, at least one of which according to Vasari is according to designs given him by Michelangelo. The four clasps are likely to form part of the same set.

The two central ornaments are somewhat lighter in style and of sharper execution on finer metal, the work of a gem carver or expert goldsmith. The designer was clearly influenced by Renaissance Mannerism but the approach of the baroque is sensible. The upper cover figure may well be modelled on a monumental sculpture of the period whilst the lower suggests a copy of a sculptural stemma, perhaps from the wall of the Protonotarial office itself. The feeling for the monumental and architectural combined with a fineness of detail points towards the body of work generally attributed to Guglielmo de la Porta 1490-1577. There is stylistic similarity too between the corner pieces and certain of De la Porta’s known work e.g. the silver plaque of the flagellation now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Interestingly De La Porta also worked under the influence of Michelangelo and his workshop specialised in the manufacture of bronzes of contemporary art.

L1159

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ADORNO, Agostino

Manuscript Letter.

Genoa, 1496.

£1,450

One sheet, 20.5 x 29.5cm, paper, autograph letter signed 30 March 1496, 16 lines (plus signature), Latin in a very neat, humanistic italic, brown ink, paper wafer seal and docket to verso, some spotting and light browning from seal, watermark of a bird encircled from Ferrera, probably early C15 (Briquet 12.118).

The letter is addressed by Adorno to the ‘Brothers and Friends of the Antiani of Genoa’. The Antiani had been instituted in Italian cities since the 13th century as representatives of the plebian class, an updated version of Roman tribunes. Adorno asks that the Antiani grant pardon to Thomas Beti, whose ‘excellence’ Adorno hopes to ‘make well known to strangers’ as well as ‘brothers and friends’; Beti is described as a ‘ready speaker, eloquent in persuading’ and powerful in negotiation.

Agostino Adorno was appointed governor of Genoa in 1488 by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, who gained control of the city that year. Although the Adorni were one of the most powerful merchant families, Agostino’s appointment began a period of crisis for the former republic. Sforza used Genoa to bolster his own forces in the first of the Italian Wars (1494-98) against Venice, and by encouraging Charles VIII of France to invade Italy set the groundwork for an alliance that would result in the invasion of Milan.

The year this letter was written, Sforza’s overthrow was already well under way, and with it the Adorni’s exile. Since the 14th century, there had been a struggle for power between Genoese aristocrats and the rising mercantile class, which Adorno obliquely refers to in this letter when he speaks of a ‘stirred up republic’ (republica versatus) that has distracted attention from Thomas Beti’s cause. Gian Luigi Fiesco, a prominant Genoese aristocrat, encouraged French invasion. In 1498, Louis XII invaded and captured Milan, and when his forces entered Genoa no resistance could be mounted because Adorno had diverted his forces to Milan at Sforza’s command. When Adorno withdrew from Genoa, Fiesco took over and for the first time since 1339 the aristocracy was back in charge.

Malleson, Studies from Genoese History. Coles, “The Crisis of Renaissance Society Genoa 1488-1507, 17-47.

L1002

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