CHOIR PSALTER.

EXTENSIVE MUSIC

Dominican Use, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[southern Germany, 1476]

£39,500

Sm 4to, 160 by 120mm, 197 leaves (plus 3 paper at each end), complete. Collation: i-xvii10, xviii9 (viii a cancelled blank), xix10, xx8, single column of 18 lines in a professional late gothic German bookhand, extensive music in square notation on 4-line red staves, a few capitals touched in red. Simple red or dark blue initials throughout, larger initials often with human faces skilfully picked out in penwork, one very large ornately decorated initial in blue heightened with white penwork on burnished gold grounds opening the first Psalm, borders of delicately scrolling coloured foliage terminating in pointed flowerheads. The remaining Psalms with similar sized initials in red or blue with contrasting geometric penwork, some with drollery animals (often with dog-like faces) left in blank parchment within their bodies, or in blue or pink on burnished gold with pink tessellated squares or coloured foliage within their bodies and acanthus leaf sprays in margin. Occasionally annotated by a sixteenth-century hand giving German names for festivals and holidays, markers at numerous leaf edges in form of simple folded tags to allow easy finding of certain readings, occasional flaking, in robust and good condition, on good and heavy vellum. In sixteenth-century German binding of ornately tooled calf over wooden boards, probably by Thomas Drechsler of Frankfurt, scuffed and bumps in places, a few small holes to boards and losses to spine, wanting one brass clasp, in folding box.

Provenance:

  1. 1.Most probably written for use by a Dominican from southern Germany, with SS. Dominic and Catherine of Siena repeated in the Litany, and Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor and his wife Cunigunde pointing towards Bamberg, Sebald towards Nuremburg and Elizabeth of Hungary or of Thuringia towards Marburg. The volume is dated boldly in red medieval Arabic numerals “1476” at foot of text on last leaf.
  2. 2. As with many portable-sized Dominican books the volume seems to have travelled with an itinerant preacher, and by the mid-sixteenth century was in Frankfurt, where it was rebound with toolmarks of repeating rolls of saints above cartouches holding the text “Tu es Petrus et” (Matthew 16:18), “Apparuit benignitas” (Titus, 3:4), “Ecce Agnus Dei” (John 1:29) and “Data est mihi o[mnis]” (Matthew 28:18) identical to those on an Avicenna owned by Adam Lonicer bound by the Frankfurt master-binder Thomas Drechsler in or after 1560 (now Sibbald Library, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; see also article on this binding in Journal of the Royal College of Physicians, 41, 2011, pp. 278-80) and a Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum published in Frankfurt by the heirs of Christian Egenhoff in 1582 (Princeton, RA775 .xR4 1582). It was likely in the possession of a Dominican of that city, and part of the library of the Dominikanerkloster there. That house was founded in 1233, and by the fourteenth century was the largest ecclesiastical presence in the city, serving as the site for royal coronations in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. It was significantly expanded in the fifteenth century with the construction of an enclosed cloister. It was suppressed in 1803, and its goods and library dispersed by the city authorities over the next decade or so. The remaining medieval structures were destroyed by bombing in 1944.
  3. 3.The present volume seems to have remained in ecclesiastical use until at least the eighteenth century (when a small slip with a liturgical reading in a hand of that date was inserted, and with contemporary ex libris marks of “101” and “H” added to its front endleaves). It was in English-speaking private hands by the early twentienth century (it includes a typed description in English on a slipped in card of that date).

Text and decoration:

The volume comprises: Prayers, including the Our Father, Hail Mary and Credo, and doxologies and invitatories (fols. 1r-4r); a Psalter (fols. 4r-167v), with noted responses, verses and antiphons, ff. 4-167v; the Ferial canticles (including Benedicite, Te Deum and Benedictus) and a Litany (fols. 167v-186r); a set of 9 oration prayers (fols. 186r-187r); and hymns and antiphons (fols. 184v-197r).

The wealth and variety of decoration here, as well as the charming motif of leaving grotesque drolleries suspended in blank vellum within the bodies of the initials are Germanic monastic features of the fourteenth and fifteenth century, seen also in a dispersed Austrian antiphoner once in the collection of Jakob Heinrich von Hefner-Alteneck (1811-1903; see Semenzato auction, 25 April 2003, lot 197, and more recently Bloomsbury Auctions, 2 July 2019, lot 57) and another Dominican Psalter probably from Nuremberg (sold in Bloomsbury Auctions, 8 July 2015, lot 87, £28,000 hammer).

A handsome and particularly charmingly decorated monastic choir book of the later Middle Ages.

L3407

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BOOK OF HOURS.

Book of Hours, Use of Autun, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum

France (probably Besançon), c. 1430

£37,500

8vo, 165 by 105mm,152 leaves (plus original singleton at front, and original endleaf formed from final leaf of last gathering), wanting a leaf from end of Compline, the Office of the Dead, and the opening leaf of the Hours of the Cross. Catchwords, collation: i-iii6, iv-x8, xi7 (wants last), xii-xviii8, xix3 (wants at least one), xx8, xxi2, single column of 13 lines per page in late gothic bookhand, rubrics in red, line fillers in red and blue designs, capitals touched in pale yellow wash, small initials in red or dark blue (some with contrasting penwork), larger initials in same colours with elaborate scrolling penwork, initials opening major text breaks in blue or faded pink with white penwork, on burnished gold grounds and enclosing coloured twists of foliage. SEVEN THREE-QUARTER PAGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES edged with thin gold frames, with full borders of single-line foliage with gold and coloured foliage and flowerbuds enclosing sprays of coloured acanthus leaves, some spaces left for miniatures in suffrages, a few near-contemporary additions in Latin and French. Small spots and marks, a little flaking from a few miniatures or decorated borders, on fine vellum with wide and clean margins. In contemporary panel-stamped dark brown leather with flower-heads and fleur-de-lys set within frames of chevrons and foliage, some small scuffs, bumps and a few wormholes, loss at head of spine, eighteenth-century paper label “heures” on spine, leaves from later fifteenth-century Book of Hours reused as pastedowns, overall solid and in good condition.

Provenance:

  1. Most probably written and illuminated in Besançon for a male patron: the liturgical usage is either Autun or Besançon, while the Calendar is firmly the latter, with the local saint, Pierre de Bellevaux (also known as St. Peter of Tarentaise, 8 May), founder of the Cistercian abbey of Bellevaux where his relics were kept throughout the Middle Ages, as well as saint-bishops of Besançon: Claudius (early sixth century; 5 June) and Antidus the martyr (d. c. 407; 17 June). That said, St. Symphorianus, patron of Autun, appears in the Litany and so there may be some liturgical crossover between these two regions in the commission of this volume for an individual patron. The prayer, Obsecro te, appears on fol. 94 in the male form.
  2. C16 ms inscription on fly “Orants. Oudot La Verne”. La Verne is a village about 30 km from Besançon. “Oudot” was a popular medieval Christian name in the region and later also a surname. Oudot La Verne, a merchant tanner, married in 1582 and a little later Alexandre Oudot was curé of Verne.
  3. Almost certainly lost or disposed of following the suppression of religious life during the Revolution.
  4. Re-emerged recently in France

Text:

Principally Latin with some French. The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); Readings from the Gospels (fol. 14r); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol. 20r), Lauds (fol. 34r), Prime (fol. 48r), Terce (fol. 55r), Sext (fol. 60r), Nones (fol. 64r), Vespers (fol. 68r), and Compline (fol. 76r); Hours of the Cross (fol. 83r); Hours of the Holy Spirit (fol. 87v); the Obsecro te and O intemerata (fol. 91v), followed by the Sept joies de la Vierge, Dulcissime domine and the Sept joies again in Latin; Penitential Psalms (fol. 103v) followed by a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 127v); and Suffrages to the Saints (fol. 144r).

Illumination:

The miniatures here with their distinctively stout bodied figures and split eyes identify this as the work of a Besançon artist working in the second quarter of the fifteenth century (cf. F. Avril and Reynaux, Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, 1993, no. 109). Our artist has been attributed to the painter of another Book of Hours, Use of Autun, now BnF., NAL. 3118, a follower of the artist of BnF., lat. 1186 (Book of Hours, Use of Langres) and New York, Morgan Library, M. 293 (Book of Hours, Use of Besançon).

The miniatures are: (i) fol. 20r, the Annunciation to the Virgin within a richly decorated interior with a burnished gold background; (ii) fol. 87v, Pentecost, with a gold and coloured tessellated background; (iii) fol. 103v, Judgement Day with Christ seated on a rainbow resting his feet on an orb, all before a dark blue night sky; (iv) fol. 127v, a funeral with hooded and tonsured monks standing before a covered coffin, all before a gold and coloured tessellated background; (v) fol. 144r, Archangel Michael striking a demon, before a gold and coloured tessellated background; (vi) fol. 146r, St. Anne and the Virgin Mary at the Golden Gate; (vii), fol. 151v, St. Nicholas.

An attractive and unusually early bourgeois Book of Hours, remarkably preserving its original decorative binding.

L3364

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BOOK OF HOURS

IN THE STYLE OF THE MAÎTRE OF COËTIVY

BOOK OF HOURS. Use of Paris, French and Latin.

[northern France (doubtless Paris), c. 1440-50]

£29,500

Miniature illuminated manuscript on vellum. 105 x 70mm 226 leaves (plus later paper endleaves), bound tightly and uncollatable, wanting 5 leaves (with illuminations). Single column, 15 lines of lettre bâtarde (some Calendar entries also in blue and liquid gold), capitals touched in pale yellow, rubrics (some in elaborate calligraphic strokes), small initials in liquid gold on blue and burgundy grounds, larger 2-line initials in blue or pink enclosing coloured foliage on gold grounds, line-fillers in same, numerous pages with decorated panels of border foliage in single-line terminating in gold flowers and fruit entwined with more realistic foliage with blue and red flowers, some tendrils loosely locked together with gold ‘O’-like bands, twelve three-quarter miniatures, within thin gold frames, similar gold frame around the text with full decorated borders of foliage as before, coloured acanthus leaf sprays at corners, one leaf with a forgotten section of text added in the lower margin, seventeen pages with blank spaces filled with coats-of-arms of later owners (see below). Vertical margin cut from fol. 223, some chipping to miniatures in places, thumbing and smudging to some edges affecting decorated borders in places, overall in good condition.; French eighteenth calf over pasteboards, gilt tooled spine with foliage and “Heures en Latin / Mss sur velin”, marbled endleaves, some bumps and chips to edges, but overall good and solid.

Provenance:

  1. Written and illuminated in Paris for, most probably, a local patron (note St. Genevieve, the patron of the city, in the Calendar, in gold on 3 January). Contemporary or near-contemporary inscriptions in French added to the foot of two leaves (now erased, but easily visible under UV light) perhaps added by this patron, as well as the numerous pilgrim badges once stitched to a blank page and lower margins of other leaves at the end of the volume (note prick marks and circular discolouration there).
  2. In ownership of family whose various but repeated coats-of-arms were added to originally blank space on no less than seventeen occasions. Some of these arms are in trick or were left incomplete, but those that are finished show them all to be arms of various branches of a single family.

Text:

The text includes (i) a Calendar; (ii) Gospel Readings; (iii) the Obsecro te (here named the “oratio valde devota”); (iv) the O intemerata (here “Orisonde notre dame”); (v) Passion Reading from John; (vi) prayers to the Virgin, wanting first leaf, and ending with the Ave marie gratia plena; (vii) the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins, Lauds (wanting first leaf), Prime (wanting first leaf), Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers and Compline; (viii) the Seven Penitential Psalms, ending in a Litany; (ix) the Hours of the Cross; (x) the Office of the Dead; (xi) Suffrages to the saints; followed by (xii) nine leaves of contemporary added prayers.

Illumination:

The figures with their oval faces, drooping noses and eyes formed by black dots hanging down from single-stroke eyelids, as well as the sumptuous interiors, identify the artist as a follower of the Maître de Coëtivy, who flourished in Paris from 1450 (see F. Avril & N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits à Peintures en France, 1140-1520, BnF, Paris, 1993, pp. 58-69).

The miniatures here are: (i) John writing a scroll in a rocky landscape; (ii) the Pieta, the Virgin and Child flanked by angels; (iii) the Annunciation to the Virgin; (iv) the Visitation of the Three Magi; (v) the Presentation in the Temple; (vi) the Flight into Egypt; (vii) the Crucifixion; (viii) a funeral scene with clergy singing from open books before a coffin; (ix) St. John the Baptist; (x) St. Sebastian; (xi) a male saint with a palm of martyrdom.

L3237

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LACTANTIUS. [with] OROSIUS.

EXTENSIVE HUMANIST ANNOTATIONS –

WITH C15 BINDING INSTRUCTIONS

LACTANTIUS. De divinis institutionibus libri septem…Item Tertulliani Apologeticus adversus gentes

[with]

OROSIUS. Historiae adversus paganos.

Venice, Octavianus Scotus, 1494 and 1483.

£11,500

Folio. 2 works in 1, ff. 90, 78 unnumbered ll., a8 b-m6 n4. Roman letter. Orosius, illuminated first initial in gold, blue, red and green, and others rubricated in red and blue, Lactantius with woodcut decorated initials and printer’s device to last leaf of first. Edges dusty, a little mainly marginal finger soiling or spotting, 1: scattered worm holes to lower outer corner of first 3 ll. affecting couple of letters, slight age yellowing, 2: few ll. slightly browned, small worm holes to outer blank margin of last gathering. Very good, well-margined copies in contemporary south German calf over wooden boards, traces of two clasps, lacking centre- and cornerpieces, double blind ruled to a panel design, upper cover: outer border with blind stamped hearts pierced by arrow within lozenges, centre panel with rolls of tendrils, and thistles within lozenges, lower cover: outer border with blind stamped floral tendrils, Virgin and Child within roundel (EBDB w000090, K019) stamped to corners, centre panel with cross-hatching in blind and same stamp of Virgin with Child, raised bands, covers and spine worn, small loss at head and foot, traces of later paper label, ‘Lactantius’ tooled in blind to upper cover, spine lined with C15 (Italian?) ms. (Jacobus à Varazze’s Legenda aurea). C19 bookplates and library stamp to front pastedown and C19 bibliographical information to rear, extensive contemporary Latin marginalia in red in German hands c.1500, authors’ names inked to upper edge.

Extensively annotated copies of Lactantius’s ‘Opera’ (with Tertullian’s ‘Apologeticus’) and Orosius’s ‘Historiae’—three milestones of early Christian theology and historiography. On the first leaf of the second work is a contemporary inscription with instructions to the binder, that the books by Orosius should be bound in half leather for plain reading, without ornaments. Half leather was requested by owners with budget constraints; that Orosius is now bound with a later work, in full leather formerly with brass decorations (and with a lavishly gilt initial), indicates it was shortly acquired by a wealthier owner. It was actually bound at the Augustinian monastery in Nuremberg (as shown by the Mary-with-Child stamp, EBDB w000090, K019), which boasted the most active bindery in the city in 1464-1526 as well as its own printing press.

At the turn of the C16, the Augustinian monastery was a thriving humanist hub, hosting personalities like Regiomontanus, Beheim, Schedel, Pickheimer and Scheurl (Kunzelmann, ‘Geschichte’, III, 275), none of whose hands appear to correspond to that of the annotator in this copy, although Schedel also annotated in red. This was likely part of the monastic library, nearly a quarter of whose books had been printed in Venice (Kyriss, ‘Nürnberger Klostereinbände’, 57); or it may have belonged to a scholar with links to the monastery, even to one of the higher-ranking monks or priors—e.g., Lupf, Pesler or Mantel—who, since the turn of the C16, had been chosen among former university students or lecturers in humanistic studies (Machilek, ‘Klosterhumanismus’, 40-41). 

The annotations were made by a scholar, probably for lectures, as suggested by the ‘ars memoriae’ diagrams on the last leaf of the Lactantius—a table with cells marked alphabetically, each with keywords and leaf number (e.g., ‘P’ has ‘prophets’ and ‘poets’, ‘I’ has ‘Iove and others [deities]’ and ‘idola’). The scholar had a remarkable interest in ‘Christian humanist’ readings and a critique of pagan cults. He was especially keen on the first three books of Lactantius’s (c.250-325AD) ‘Institutiones divinae’ which discussed the typological wisdom of the ancients and their insights or errors concerning the Christian god before the coming of Christ. He glossed passages on theological interpretations of prophets (e.g., sybils), poets (e.g., Ovid, Virgil, Orpheus, Hesiodus), deities (e.g., Apollo, Jove, Juno) or semi-divine figures (e.g., Hercules, Romulus). He annotated passages concerning ancient theories on the philosophical value of poetic invention (‘figmenta poetarum’) and history, e.g., Plato’s interpretation of myth and Euhemerus’s view of classical gods as worthy humans who achieved posthumous veneration. Further glosses were made to passages on the theological and moral wisdom of the ancients in relation to Christian theology. Similarly, the annotations to Tertullian’s (155-240AD) ‘Apologeticus’, a defence of Christianity against pagan cults like Gnosticism, focus on sacrifices, the worship of ‘idola’, ‘simulacra’, the nature of Christ and the devil, the kingdom of God, the Roman religion, and the ‘[mythical] fables and horrendous filthiness of the [ancient] gods’. Orosius’s (375-418AD) ‘Historiae adversus paganos’ was a providentialist world history showing the beneficial effects of Christianity on civilisation. The annotator was interested in the famous initial geographical description of the world, as well as in the development of world history from the ‘vengeance of the Deluge’ (glossed as ‘iusta’) down to the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, the Christian persecutions, ending with Constantine’s reign, with excursion into mythical history (e.g., the Amazons) and symbolic events like plagues and earthquakes.

A remarkable, fascinating witness to the circulation of humanist scholarship in late medieval northern Europe, on the eve of the Reformation.

  1. I) Not in BMC XV.
  2. II) BMC XV, p. 278. Brunet IV, 237 (mentioned); Graesse VI, 51: ‘the second counterfeit’ of Hermann Levilapis’s 1475 edition, with revised verse before the registrum. E. Kyriss, Nürnberg Kloistereinbände der Jahre 1433 bis 1525 (Erlagen, 1940); A. Kunzelmann, Geschichte der Deutschen Augustiner-Eremiten (Wurzburg, 1972), vol. 3; F. Machilek, ‘Klosterhumanismus in Nürnberg um 1500’, Mitteilungen des Vereins für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnberg 64 (1977), 10-45; J.H. Overfield, Humanism and Scholasticism in Late Medieval Germany (Princeton, 1984).

L3203b

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PORTABLE PSALTER

Portable Psalter, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum

[Germany (northern Saxony, perhaps Hildesheim) or the adjacent Rhineland, late thirteenth century]

£19,500

109 x 83 mm. 240 leaves (plus 2 paper endleaves at front and back), wanting a few single leaves, collation: i6, ii11 (i a singleton with large illuminated initial), iii-xi10, xii-xiv8, xv10, xvi-xxi8, xxii9 (last probably a singleton), xxiii7 (i and vii wanting), xxiv8, xxv7, xxvi8, xxvii12, modern pencil foliation, single column of 16 lines in 2 sizes of an angular gothic bookhand, capitals in barbed penstrokes and touched in red, red rubrics, simple initials in red or blue with ornate contrasting penwork, crucial Psalms marked with chunky gold or silver initials with coloured penwork (the silver now oxidised, and one gold with perhaps later blue grounds added as well as clumsy red penwork in margins), frontispiece with single full-page initial ‘B’ in beige acanthus leaves ending in orange and red leaves, all on burnished gold grounds and within frame of blue and red penwork, facing initial page with 4 lines of text in painted white capitals (“[B]eatus / vir qu/i non / abiit”) on blue and red panels these separated by silver panels, the paper endleaves at front with seventeenth or eighteenth-century devotional additions and an eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century short description of volume, silver panels causing shine-through to reverse of fol. 8, some small signs of wear and a few small holes (some with traces of contemporary repairs), trimmed by a few mm. at head, overall in good and solid condition, later leather over pasteboards (probably over earlier binding structures, including 3 large double thongs at spine and reused manuscript fragments: see above), cracking and wear at spine, thongs split between some gatherings (exposing some small strips of late medieval manuscript reused on spine during binding) and becoming loose, remnants of two clasps.

Text and illumination:

This fine and early liturgical volume contains a Calendar, followed by a Psalter (fol. 8r), ending with a Litany (fol. 225v), Canticles, prayers and other devotional readings. The text ends with a Latin prayer for the souls of the faithful departed: “Fidelium anim[a]e per misericordiam dei requiescant in pace amen”.

Provenance:

1. The original owner of the volume was most probably a member of a female monastic community in northern Saxony (perhaps in Hildesheim) or the adjacent Rhineland: appeals for the benefactors of a community in the Calendar might suggest their religious status, and St. Lambert of Maastricht-Liège (17 September) and SS. Ludger, apostle of Frisia and Saxony (26 March) as well as St. Godehard of Hildesheim (4 May) (the last also appearing in the Litany) strongly indicates that region. In the fifteenth century the volume was owned by a female supplicant named in the ex libris: “Iste liber pertinet Mechhildis […]” at the foot of the first leaf of the Calendar. Another near-contemporary inscription under the initial on fol. 7v names a “Maria Zara filia Joril[?]”, most probably a subsequent owner.

2. A. O. Tilly, his ex libris in an early nineteenth-century shaky hand on front pastedown.

3. Ernest E. Baker (1854-1931), FSA, of Aldwick Court, Somerset, local antiquary of Weston-Super-Mare: his late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century armorial bookplate pasted to back pastedown. Baker was the nephew of J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps (the latter the important Shakespeare scholar and notoriously most-loathed son-in-law of Sir Thomas Phillipps, suspected as a youth of stealing books from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, and numerous cuttings from elsewhere, and subsequently banned from Sir Thomas’ library; he and Sir Thomas’ daughter, Henrietta, eloped in 1842, leading Sir Thomas to refuse to see either Halliwell or his own daughter for the remaining thirty years of his life; Halliwell only taking Sir Thomas’ last name after the latter’s death in 1872). Baker was Halliwell’s executor and inherited a third of the Halliwell-Phillipps library in 1889. The majority of this was sold by auction on 1 July 1889 and 30 November 1891, with further items in Sotheby’s 1 July 1895, lots 666-679 (the collection detailed by a pamphlet issued by Baker himself, Halliwell-Phillipps library, notes on a portion which will be sold by auction, Weston-Super-Mare, 1889), but the charming manuscript volume here was retained by Baker, and it passed by descent to his grand-daughter, who dispersed the estate library. 

L2729 

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CATO, Marcus Porcius, VARRO, Marcus Terentius, COLUMELLA, Lucius Moderatus, PALLADIUS, Rutilius Taurus

GILT INITIALS

Libri de re rustica [Scriptores rei rusticae]

Venice, in aedibus haer. Aldo Manuzio & haer. Andrea Torresano, 1533.

£4,250

8vo. ff. (liv) 295 (i). Italic letter with Roman. Initials supplied in gold with red penwork, printer’s device to t-p and final ep, a few woodcuts of agricultural instruments and land measurements, a.e.g. Very light age yellowing, the odd marginal spotting. A fine, very well-margined copy, crisp and clean, in early C18 French crimson morocco in the style of Derome, marbled paper to pastedowns, cover edges gilt to a triple rule, gilt inner dentelles. Spine in seven compartments, with large gilt thistle, rosettes and foliage, gilt title and printer’s name. Armorial bookplate of William George Arthur Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech, to front pastedown, silk marker. 

The early initials painted gold with red penwork were probably produced in France by an anonymous artist. They reflect types based on Roman epigraphy, especially Geoffrey Tory’s manual ‘Champfleury’ (Paris, 1529). They may have been inspired by the gilt initials often executed for Jean Grolier. The finely gilt thistles on the spine closely resemble those in Barber, ‘Printed Books and Bookbindings’, FL. 75, W.Cat.212.

A fine, large copy of this successful collection of famous classical texts on agriculture, edited by the friar and humanist Giovanni Giocondo and integrated with material from the Giunta edition of 1521. The thorough subject index which precedes the texts was devised for a C16 readership interested in the classical rustic virtues of landownership and the practical aspects of country life, with topics as varied as the best place to set up a beehive, horticulture, remedies for dogs with flees and sick horses, ways to scare snakes off stables and regulations for workers. Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 BC) was a Roman statesman, military officer and author. His only complete, extant work, ‘De Agri Cultura’ (c.160 BC) is a manual on the management of a country estate reliant on slaves, with a special interest in the cultivation of vines. A prolific writer patronised by Augustus, Marcus Terentius Varro (116-107BC) based his ‘Rerum rusticarum libri tres’ on his direct experience of farming. He notably warns his readers to avoid marshlands, where ‘animalia minuta’ that cannot be seen by the human eye may be breathed in or swallowed and cause illnesses. A soldier and farmer, Lucius Moderatus Columella (4-70AD) is best known for his ‘Res rustica’ in twelve volumes and the shorter ‘De arboribus’. Intended as a manual of husbandry, ‘Res rustica’ deals with a wealth of activities including the cultivation of vines and olives, the farming and treatment of animals, and the management of workers. ‘De arboribus’ contains information on horticulture, subdivided by kind of tree. Inspired by Columella and much admired in the medieval period, Palladius’s (C4-5AD) ‘Opus agriculturae’ (or ‘De re rustica’) provides an account of the typical monthly activities of a Roman farm, and mentions the utility of building mills over abundant waterways to grind wheat. These texts, first published together in Venice in 1472, enjoyed wide circulation in C16 Italy and France.

This copy was part of the library at Glyn Cywarch, owned by William George Arthur Ormsby-Gore, 4th Baron Harlech.

USTC 800776; Brunet V, 246; Rénouard 109:9; Graesse V, 331: ‘Texte de la première Aldine avec quelques corrections empruntées à la Juntine de 1521.’ 

L2384

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MANUSCRIPT VELLUM LEAF. ILLUMINATED E

Leaf from a Book of Hours.

Northern France, probably Paris, c. 1510-20.

£650

Illuminated E letter on vellum, ‘Ego dixi in dimidio dierum…’. 24 lines of text with blank spaces filled by dark blue and gold bars. The same colours are used to decorate smaller initials at the beginning of each row. Both sides displayable. On its verso, an illuminated E at the bottom of the page starts Canticum (in red) ’Exultauit cor meum in domino.’

The parent book of Hours of this leaf was one of a small number produced at the height of the French Renaissance, probably in and around Paris, which have been named the ‘1520s workshop’ by Myra Ortha. For other examples see the Doheny Hours (Jaime Ortiz-Patino collection, sold Sotheby’s, 21 April 1998, lot 39), and another Book of Hours illuminated by the Doheny Master also sold in Sotheby’s, 20 June 1995, lot 121. Thin ropework borders on some of these have been taken to indicate that some of the original owners were members of the Cordelières, the order of Franciscan Tertiaries to which the women of the French royal family belonged (see Sotheby’s, 2 December 2003, lot 28d).  

CJS 6b

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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

DSC_0048

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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