Family Resemblances, Part 1

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 25/52
A guest post by University of Pennsylvania Manuscripts Cataloging Librarian, Amey Hutchins

  
Carta executoria de hidalguia de Agustin de Yturbe, vezino de la ciudad de Sevilla, Bethlehem, PA, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Codex 22, fols. 1v–2r (Full-page miniature, Yturbe family praying before the Virgin Mary; Full-page miniature, John the Baptist and Saint Augustine)

One of the great outcomes of the BiblioPhilly project is how easy it is to discover similar manuscripts in multiple partner libraries. As a cataloger at Penn, I was aware of seven cartas executorias in the Penn Libraries: six in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and one at the Library at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. These are sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century manuscripts celebrating the aristocratic genealogy of Spanish families and confirming the privileges of aristocracy, issued at the end of lawsuits brought in the chancillerías (royal chancery courts) in Granada or Valladolid to prove nobility. These privileges were worth having: they included exemption from taxes and protection from a variety of criminal punishments including torture and being sent to the galleys, and protection from imprisonment for debt.1 Through the BiblioPhilly project, I have made the acquaintance of six more cartas executorias in the region: one at Lehigh University (not described as a carta executoria prior to the project), one at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and four in the John Frederick Lewis Collection of European Manuscripts at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The manuscripts often begin with two full-page illuminations, including images of their owners, sometimes with their families. Here we see Alonso Ximenez de Canizares and his wife Maria de Zuniga (1574):

Part1Image1
Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1923-17-1, fol. 1v

Juan de Londono and family (1587):

Part1Image2
Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 59, fol. 1v

and Agustin de Yturbe and family (1593):

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Bethlehem, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Lehigh Codex 22,  fol. 1v

Some manuscripts also have historiated letters or small miniatures with portraits of the ruling monarch. The thirteen manuscripts in the BiblioPhilly region span the years from 1538 to 1606, issued in the reigns of Charles I (1516–1566):

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 263, Carta executoria a pedimiento de Alonso Mendez de Parada, fol. 48v
Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 263 (1538), fol. 48v

Phillip II (1556-1598):

University of Pennsylvania LJS 20: Carta executoria de hidalguia a pedimiento, fol. 65r
Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 20 (1578), fol. 65r

and Phillip III (1598-1621):

University of Pennsylvania LJS 21: Executoria de hidalguia a pedimiento, fol. 49r
Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 21 (1606), fol. 49r

In this group of highly formulaic manuscripts, one has a significant difference, which will be the subject of the next post.

Mapping (a) Manuscript(‘s) Migrations

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 24/52

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Book of Hours for the Use of Rome, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1967–30–120, fol. 19r (miniature of Saint Mark and beginning of text from the Gospel Lesson for Saint Mark; detail of miniature)

Books created in the Middle Ages can certainly travel vast distances in subsequent centuries. Projects such as Mapping Manuscript Migrations, a collaboration between the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the Oxford e-Research Centre, the Bodleian Libraries, the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes in Paris, and the Semantic Computing Group at Aalto University in Finland, will soon be able to harness the vast trove of later provenance information present in such repositories as the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts, mostly garnered from sale catalogues, in order to tell us which manuscripts have moved the most since, say, 1750. But medieval books themselves frequently contain records of their perambulations that occurred long before the modern auction industry fed the appetites and shelves of collectors. A famous example is the so-called Morgan Crusader Bible (The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.638), produced in Paris or Northern France shortly before 1250, modified in Naples in the fourteenth century, brought to Poland by Bernard Maciejowski, Bishop of Kraków, then given by him to Shah Abbas of Persia as a diplomatic gift in 1608, transferred to a Persian Jew in the eighteenth century, purchased by a Greek antiquities dealer in Cairo, sold in London in 1833, and purchased (except for three leaves) by Belle da Costa Greene for the Morgan Library in 1916.

A much more modest example of a well-traveled manuscript is Philadelphia Museum of Art 1967–30–120, a Book of Hours for the Use of Rome with miniatures in a style that would suggest a place of production (or at least decoration) in the Berry region around Bourges. Though damaged, the miniatures have the deep, purplish palette and penchant for  landscape and architectural details reminiscent of the followers of the Bourges-based illuminator Jean Colombe (ca. 1430–ca. 1493). This manuscript is almost totally un-researched, but some details point to interesting later peregrinations. For example, after the Short Hours of the Holy Spirit and before the Penitential Psalms, a unique prayer in Italian simply titled “oratio devotissima” has been inserted in a rounded, humanistic script that must date from between about 1500 and 1525.

  

PMA 1967–30–120, fols. 106r–106v (prayer added in Italian)

Of course, this modification by an Italian speaker does not necessarily confirm that the book was in Italy, but an additional detail, the added Mass of the Virgin in meridional Rotunda Script on folios 172r–178r, corroborates the notion that the book was present in Italy at an early date.

  
PMA 1967–30–120, fols. 171v–172r (end of the Office of the Dead; beginning of the added Mass of the Virgin)

The book’s binding, which is damaged but quite finely tooled with a central crucifixion stamp, strapwork, and acanthus leaves, is typical of Italian bindings of the seventeenth century.


PMA 1967–30–120, front cover

However, the book appears to have returned eventually to France. The spine has been overstamped with bees, a distinctive detail typical of the library of Louis-Paul Abeille (1719–1807), lawyer to the Parliament of Brittany. At least, a later owner of the book identified the bees as such and noted this down in pencil on a flyleaf and cited the presence of the motif in Joannis Guigard’s Nouvel armorial du bibliophile: guide de l’amateur des livres armoriés, published in 1890.

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PMA 1967–30–120, spine, detail of bee motif, and recto of uppermost flyleaf

Above this pencil note is an older ownership inscription of a certain Samuel Tolfrey, dated 1869, likely identifiable with an English Army captain of the same name.

On the next flyleaf is a list of the manuscript’s miniatures, typical of a collector’s attitude to the contents of a Book of Hours. Interestingly, it is written in German. Based on the style of the cursive writing, it would appear to be as recent as the twentieth century.


PMA 1967–30–120, recto of second front flyleaf (with list of miniatures in German)

Currently, it is impossible to establish when and how the manuscript arrived in the collection of Samuel Stockton White III and Vera White, who bequeathed it to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1967 along with two other Books of Hours (PMA 1967–30–121 and PMA 1967–30–122), several dozen illuminated leaves, and other objects.1 However, these scattered provenance elements show that the book had a convoluted journey to its most recent resting place, rivaling the wanderings of other, more famous fellow travelers.


 

A little-known Guide for the Renaissance Merchant

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 23/52


Giorgio di Lorenzo Chiarini, Libro che tracta di marcantie et usanze di paesi, Tuscany (Florence?), 1481, scribe: Lodovicho Bertini, Philadelphia, Temple University Libraries, Special Collections Research Center, (SPC) MSS BH 007 COCH, fol. 9r

The cache of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts housed at Temple University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center includes an overlooked source for our understanding of Renaissance economics: a rare manuscript copy of the commercial manual in Italian known as the Libro che tracta di marcantie et usanze di paesi or Book concerning the Trade and Customs of Various Places (MSS BH 007 COCH). This finely written manuscript represents a genre of text essential to the Renaissance merchant. In addition to learning the elements of mathematics and geometry (represented in items like the University of Pennsylvania’s LJS 27 and LJS 488), those who traded in the interconnected Mediterranean world of the fifteenth century needed to be well-informed about the types of goods available in a large number of cities, as well as the units of measure and coinage used, their denominations, and their exchange rates with major domestic currencies. Thus, the manuscript at Temple contains well-organized information for converting weights, measures, and money across Western Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus, with major sections devoted to the trading capitals of Florence, Venice, and Genoa.

Briefly described in the Supplement to De Ricci’s Census,1 and again in an issue of the hard-to-find Temple University Library Bulletin in 1954, the manuscript seems to have escaped the notice of economic historians. The authors of the Supplement understood that the book was related to the much earlier merchant’s manual, Francesco Balducci Pegolotti’s La pratica della mercatura,2 which was written around 1340. But they also noted in passing that the Temple manuscript is actually a complete copy of a later text whose original composition is attributed to the Florentine merchant Giorgio di Lorenzo Chiarini: the Libro di mercatantie et usanze de’ paesi, or Book of Trade and Customs of Countries. Only three other manuscript copies of this text were known to Franco Borlandi, who produced a critical edition of the text in 1936.3 The earliest of these, dated to 1458, is now in Florence, as is another dated 1483 (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, cod. Pal. Panciatichiano 72 and cod. Magliabechiano, XXIX, 203, respectively). A third, probably close in date to 1480, is Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. it. 911. A comparison between these manuscripts and MSS BH 007 COCH shows marked similarities, though the Temple University manuscript is the only one to have originally included an introductory miniature.

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Giorgio di Lorenzo Chiarini, El libro di mercatantie et usanze de’ paesi, Paris, BnF, ms. it. 911, fol. 1r and ibid., Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, cod. Magliabechiano, XXIX, 203, fol 1r (photo from Borlandi 1936)

Editions of the book were printed in 1481, around 1497, and 1498, while the widespread diffusion of the book’s contents was further assured by its verbatim inclusion within the two earliest editions of Renaissance Italy’s most popular text on mathematics for merchants, Luca Pacioli’s Summa de arithmetica, geometria, proportioni et proportionalità (Venice: Paganinus de Paganinis, 1494; Toscolano: Paganinus de Paganinis, 1523). However, the printed versions of the book abandon the tabular layout of the manuscripts and compress much of the information into running text, rendering it less useful as a reference tool. It seems clear, then, that our manuscript is not based on the first edition of Chiarini’s work, produced the same year as the manuscript.

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The 1481 edition of Chiarini’s text (left), and its position in the 1494 edition of Pacioli (right)

Though our manuscript’s introductory miniature on folio 9r has been excised, and the coat-of-arms below it obliterated, the book helpfully contains a colophon on folio 100r stating that it was copied by a certain Lodovicho Bertini on an unspecified day in July 1481. A coat-of-arms of the Bertini family is discernable on a terracotta monument by della Robbia in the church of San Jacopo in Gallicano, north of Lucca 4, and it is not impossible that the same arms were originally present in the manuscript’s escutcheon. On folio 100r of the manuscript there is also an ownership inscription from the following century written by a certain “Matteo di Lorenzo du Matteo di Francesco,” stating that the book was purchased on 25 March 1591 in Florence, by which time it would already have been seen as an antique. Given the changes over time in commercial conventions and currencies, the usefulness of such a treatise would have diminished quickly, especially during the Age of Discovery. Between its possession by this owner (who may have had it fitted with its current binding) and its presence in the collection of the vellomaniac Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872) as his ms. 6994, the book’s whereabouts are unknown.

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(SPC) MSS BH 007 COCH, fol. 100r (final page of manuscript, with colophon by Lodovicho Bertini and ownership inscription of Matteo di Lorenzo di Matteo di Francesco)

Though facts about the copyist Bertini’s life are scarce, his work as a scribe is documented elsewhere. A year before completing this book, for example, he is known to have copied another manuscript known alternately as the Pratica di mercatura or Alphabeto di tutti e costumi, cambi, monete, pesi…. This manuscript is now in Pisa, Biblioteca universitaria, ms. 539, and as far as we can tell based on a list of the manuscript’s contents and a partial transcription, it is virtually identical with the present manuscript, despite never having been identified correctly as a copy of Chiarini’s Libro di mercatantie et usanze de’ paesi.5 Knowing the proper of the source of the text, and understanding that it was not an original work by Bertini, we can start to question why he undertook to make two copies of the same preexisting manual. Was one intended for a friend or relative, or for sale? Or did Bertini plan to keep both copies? A comparison of the reproduction and transcription found in Luciano Lenzi’s article from 2003 on the Pisa codex6 with a detail of folio 92v from our manuscript is instructive:

bertini6725_0185_web

As is evident from this comparison, our copy is written in a more formal script, with a more refined layout.  It may have been a keep-at-home copy of the book complete with heraldry and introductory miniature, while the copy now in Pisa may have been intended as a more utilitarian vademecum to accompany Bertini’s travels.

Before Breakfast?? Instructions for Weekday Prayers in a Venetian Dialect

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 22/52

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Book of Hours for the Use of Rome, University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Codex 688, fol. 13r

The Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project did not formally include manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania, which had already been digitized and made available on the OPenn repository several years ago. However, these manuscripts will soon be integrated within the BiblioPhilly browsing interface in an effort to produce a comprehensive digital resource for pre-modern manuscripts in the region. Preparations for the upcoming “Making the Renaissance Manuscript: Discoveries from Philadelphia Libraries” exhibition I am curating at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts (February–May 2020) have provided an additional reason for looking more closely at some of Penn’s European manuscripts, which still have plenty of secrets to reveal. As many of us know, mere digitization does not equal discovery!

The compact Book of Hours that is our subject today, UPenn Ms. Codex 688, has perhaps evaded attention because it contains no secondary decoration, apart from a large initial D and some vinework on folio 13r which may well be later in date. The textual content of Italian Books of Hours – as distinct from their decoration – has received relatively little scholarly attention, though the situation is changing.1

Ms. Codex 688 is written in a fine humanist hand. It is a late example of a format and genre popular in Central and Northern Italy earlier in the fifteenth century. The text of the Calendar and the principal offices is in Latin, as is the case in the overwhelming majority of Books of Hours from all regions of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe. The Calendar contains saints venerated in Northern Italy generally, including Ambrose of Milan (7 December), Secundus of Asti (1 June), and Prosdocimus of Padua (7 November). However, a more precise indication of origin is hinted at by the presence of the unusual Dedication of Saint Mark’s Basilica (8 October), which firmly locates the book in Venice. Reflecting the increasing prevalence of vernacular prayer in the fifteenth century, towards the end of the book, after the Hours of the Holy Spirit (fols. 86r–128v), there are also weekday prayers in Italian. This particularity had been noted without further elaboration in the the existing catalog record for the manuscript, and is not altogether surprising.

But what do these prayers actually consist of? They are in fact a set of devotions intended to be performed in front of a crucifix. This is a rather precise and unusual series of prayers for a Book of Hours, perhaps related to the fact that the book contains no illuminations.2 The prayers are also a reminder of how Books of Hours were often intended to be employed in concert with works in other media, in this case a sculpture. There is one prayer for each day of the week plus another for Palm Sunday, and each is prefaced by detailed instructions about the specific gestures to be made by the devotee while reciting the text.

Reading these instructions, we notice some distinct spellings and words that are not of the mainstream, Tuscan variant of Italian. For example, we read “Zuoba” and “Domenega” for Thursday and Sunday respectively instead of the habitual “giovedì” and “domenica”; “zonte le mane” instead of “giunte le mani” for joined hands; “quindexe” instead of “quindici” for the number fifteen, and so on. These unusual orthographies point to a Venetian dialect (here truly a regionally inflected variant of Italian as opposed to the more distinct Venetian language) as recorded in dictionaries such as Giuseppe Boerio’s Dizionario del Dialetto Veneziano.3 A few words seem closer to variants attested in the Milanese vernacular, in particular “morzada” for “extinguished,” which is an unusual spelling close to the “smorzada” recorded in Milan.4 On balance, though, it seems likely that the Book of Hours was produced for use in Venice, especially considering the presence of the Dedication of Saint Mark’s in the calendar, much rarer and more geographically specific than Saint Ambrose or even Saint Prosdocimus of Padua.

Equally fascinating is the attitude that the supplicant should take when pronouncing each prayer. On Palm Sunday, the prayers are to be said while looking up with joined hands:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 129r

On Mondays, with hands crossed over the knees in memory of the flagellation:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 129v

On Tuesdays, at the foot of the cross in the manner of Mary Magdalene:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 130r

On Wednesdays, prostrate and face to the ground:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 130v

On Thursdays, kneeling:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 131r

On Fridays, the devotee is to recite the Pater Noster (Our Father) and Ave Maria (Hail Mary) five times, kissing each of Christ’s wounds once, in memory of the Crucifixion:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 130r

On Saturday, prayers must be said while holding an extinguished candle (“candela morzada”) in memory of Christ’s death:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 130r

On Sunday (“domenega”), the candle is to be lit as a symbol of his resurrection:

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Ms. Codex 688, fol. 130r

For each day of the week, the prayers are to be said before breakfast (“avanti che tu manzi ne bevi”).  This unusual guide to prayer shows the extent to which such compact prayer books were intended to be used in concert with devotional images, especially when not otherwise illustrated. They also allow us to nuance and enrich the corpus of Italian Books of Hours, which is often considered as a monolithic block.


 

All’antica: Getting up-to-date with the Ancients

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 21/52


Commissione issued to Andrea Valier by Leonardo Loredan, 1502, Bethlehem, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Codex 21, fol. 1r (all’antica frontispiece illuminated by the First Pisani Master)

It is always gratifying to learn that one’s own manuscript “discovery” has already been made. Knowing that other scholars have come to the same opinion independently helps to confirm one’s intuitions and demonstrates that traditional methodologies can indeed be reliable when studying Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.

Such was the case with a damaged and somewhat faded, but still very beautiful, frontispiece to a Commissione or Venetian charter preserved among the twenty-five or so Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Commissione, issued to Andrea Valier by Doge Leonardo Loredan (reigned 1501–1517) in 1502, concerns Valier’s duties, rights, and obligations as podestà or civilian administrator of Piran, an Istrian town in present-day Slovenia that was under Venetian control from 1283 to the extinction of the republic in 1797. The manuscript is part of a wider genre of Venetian administrative records that came to be transformed into luxurious showpiece copies.

I first encountered this manuscript during an initial visit to Lehigh’s Linderman Library in September of 2016. The refined style of the introductory miniature jumped out at me immediately. The pairs of escutcheon-bearing putti, crouching leopards, cowering fawns, and athletic satyrs all pointed to a work of some refinement. The pastel-toned aedicula, dangling male and female cameos, and figurative tympanum bearing a depiction of Orpheus showed that this was a work steeped in the so-called all’antica style, that selective revival of ancient forms so characteristic of humanist book production in Renaissance Italy. What is more, the illusionistic torn parchment effect applied to the text block, which is carefully shaded by the artist to suggest a ragged piece of parchment hanging from a classicizing structure, is something of a scholarly preoccupation of mine.1 We were clearly dealing with a work by a highly skilled Venetian or Paduan artist working in the ambit of Benedetto Bordone, the most prolific illuminator of such documents at the turn of the sixteenth century. And yet Bordone’s palette is generally much more garish in tone, with a thicker application of pigment. Perhaps this was the work of an artist slightly older than Bordone, closer in spirit to an earlier generation of masterful-but-anonymous Veneto-Paduan illuminators, namely the Master of the Putti, Master of the London Pliny, and Pico Master. In any case, the illustration was decidedly not “executed in a style which has been called the International Gothic,” as John C. Hirsh had stated in his valiant but not-quite-adequate guide to Lehigh’s manuscripts, written in 1970, when the state of research was far less advanced.2

About a year and a half after first seeing the manuscript, I was heartened to find the Commissione published (along with an excellent color reproduction) in Helena Szépe’s wonderful new book, Venice Illuminated.3 There, she attributed the frontispiece to the so-called First Pisani Master, so-named on account of two Aldine editions with Pisani heraldry, now in Manchester (Virgil, Opera, 1501; John Rylands Library, Spencer 3359) and London (Juvenal and Persius, Opera, 1501; British Library, C.4.g.10).4

Szépe’s book, which provides a much-needed synthesis of these documents that are at once numerous and poorly understood, also has the merit of shedding light on another little-known gem from a Philadelphia collection: the splendid Commissionne issued in 1517 by Leonardo Loredan to Paolo Nani, podestà and captain of the inland town of Treviso. The manuscript forms part of the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection at the University of Pennsylvania (LJS 57), but its flashiness is somewhat at odds with the rest of the collection. Upon first seeing its colorful frontispiece several years ago, I had a hunch that it might be by Bordone himself, an opinion that Szépe has thankfully seconded.5 The manuscript’s first page consists of an elaborate frame of all’antica ornamentation composed of silver-grey vases and shell gold volutes set against a deep blue background, which encapsulates a carmine-colored text cartouche and a rectangular miniature. The central image shows Saint Paul presenting a kneeling Nani to the enthroned Virgin and Child, a simplified version of large-scale compositions by contemporary Venetian painters, notably Giovanni Bellini (c. 1430–1516) and Vincenzo Catena (c. 1480–1531).

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Dogale issued in 1517 by Leonardo Loredan to Paolo Nani, 1517, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection, LJS 57, fol. 1r (frontispiece showing Saint Paul presenting the kneeling Paolo Nani to the enthroned Virgin and Child, surrounded by a border of white and gold grisaille on blue, incorporating the lion of San Mark at the top and the Nani arms below); examining LJS 57 using MiScope (MISC) portable digital microscope at the Steven Miller Conservation Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania Libraries

This is a manuscript I know well, as I often use it in teaching. The brilliant colors of Bordone’s frontispiece bear witness to the high quality of pigments available to artists working in Venice, the European hub for the trade of paintstuffs at the turn of the sixteenth century. The work’s more impressionistic style and thicker application of paint herald a move away from the subtle, economical approach taken by the First Pisani Master in the earlier the Valier Commissione, and show just how much artistic styles can change during the reign of a single Doge.


 

The “Parliament of Heaven”: Tracking a Theatrical Iconography

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 20/52

  
Book of Hours, Use of Rouen, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 126, fols. 14v–15r (miniatures showing the Procès de Paradis or Parliament of Heaven and the Annunciation)

A few weeks ago, we saw how an early-sixteenth-century manuscript illuminator, the so-called Master of the Entries of Francis I, could translate real-life, ephemeral tableaux vivants that he almost certainly witnessed, onto the manuscript page. Today, we will examine another theatrically-derived composition, known from elsewhere but not previously identified among Philadelphia’s manuscripts: the Procès de Paradis, or Parliament of Heaven.

This unusual image is found in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Lewis E 126, a Book of Hours from Rouen that can be dated to the reign of the French king Louis XII (r. 1498–1514) on account of an inscription in the frame on folio 35v. Though it may be slightly later than the rest of the book, the dimidiated coat-or-arms on folio 37v was identified by Albert Van de Put as those of the Quinard family of Languedoc and Venot de Noisy of Burgundy and the Lyonnais,1 with Jean-Luc Deuffic more recently suggesting the more likely Normandy family of Vauquelin instead of Quinard. The miniatures in the book were produced by two distinct artists, but ours is identifiable with Robert Boyvin (another book in the Free Library, Lewis E 124, was illuminated by a close collaborator of his).2 Facing an image of the Annunciation, the miniature on folio 14v of our manuscript shows several figures in white-grey grisaille. The figures in the lower area, standing upon the ground, represent l’Église (the Church, in place of the habitual Truth) paired with Justice, and Miséricorde (Mercy) paired with Sapience (Wisdom). The four personifications are labelled below in gold lettering. In the middle is the Angel Gabriel. Above, the scene is surveyed by an isomorphic Trinity holding open the Book of Life, and surrounded by three Orders of Angels: seraphim, cherubim, and thrones.

Though other versions of the image existed earlier in the Middle Ages,3 this variant of the Procès de Paradis was inspired by the Mystère de la Passion, a mystery play by Arnoul Gréban that was performed widely in France during the fifteenth century.4 As an iconography, it has been well-studied.5 It occurs, for example, in late-fifteenth-century Parisian Books of Hours produced in the workshop of the Maître François, an illuminator tentatively identified with a certain François le Barbier the elder.6 In one example now in New York (The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.73), dated to about 1475, the first four lines of text for the Hours of the Virgin divide the page in two, with the Annunciation (habitually the standalone image for this section of the Book of Hours) occurring below. In other cases, such as in this somewhat eccentric Parisian Book of Hours with miniatures by several different artists (The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.179) the image has even replaced the Annunciation at the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin (fol. 38r), relegating it to Lauds! By the time our book was made, the layouts of Books of Hours were being modified from the start to allow for one or two full-page miniatures preceding the beginning of the text, which meant that the Annunciation could be accompanied by another scene such as the Procès de Paradis. Our collation model shows that this was the case for our book: the scribe has given the illuminator carte blanche, as it were, for the striking double miniature.


Book of Hours, Use of Paris, New York, The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.73, fol. 7r (miniature for the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin showing the Procès de Paradis or Parliament of Heaven and the Annunciation)

The Procès de Paradis composition seems to have been introduced to Rouen (where our manuscript was made) by Jean Pichore, the prolific illuminator who also provided numerous designs for metalcut prints for Books of Hours.7 Pichore worked with the border decorator Jean Serpin, who also collaborated with Boyvin, our illuminator. A Book of Hours Pichore illuminated around 1500, now in the Vatican Library (Barb. Lat. 487), shows the Procès de Paradis facing the Annunciation, as in our book. An example of Pichore’s broadly disseminated metalcut, from a hand-colored, printed Book of Hours at the University of Kansas, shows very close similarities to the earlier manuscript version. Other manuscript illuminators active in Rouen, such as the Master of Philippe of Guelders, used somewhat different compositions (San Marino, Huntington Library, HM1101, fol. 19v).

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Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Barb. Lat. 487, fols. 23v–24r (miniatures showing the Procès de Paradis or Parliament of Heaven and the Annunciation)

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Guillaume Anabat for Germain Hardouin, Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Paris, 1505, Lawrence, University of Kansas, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, Summerfield C65 (hand-colored metalcuts showing the Procès de Paradis or Parliament of Heaven and the Annunciation)

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Lewis E 126, fol. 14v (detail of miniature showing the Procès de Paradis or Parliament of Heaven)

Was our illuminator perhaps inspired by Pichore’s images, either in manuscript or print? As you can see, our miniature differs in important ways from both Pichoresque images: the female pairs of Church and Justice and Mercy and Wisdom do not embrace, but seem instead to debate the finer points of theology (counting fingers was a widespread gesture denoting scholarly dispute at the time).8 Another miniature by our Boyvin, also showing the Procès du Paradis and dated to 1502, shows a much greater similarity to Pichore’s image. Indeed, it is directly derived from it (Paris, Artcurial, 1 December 2014, lot 105, fol. 25v). Moreover, the colorless grisaille of our manuscript’s figures seems unusual.9 Was Boyvin simply reacting to an uncolored, printed image he saw, or was this a more deliberate choice?

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Book of Hours, Use of Rouen, Paris, Artcurial, 1 December 2014, lot 105, fol. 25v (miniature showing the Procès de Paradis or Parliament of Heaven)

Overall, do the subtle differences found in our manuscript inflect the meaning of the composition? Might Boyvin have been referring to particular aspects of allegorical mystery plays being performed at the time in Rouen, or is he merely transmitting another pre-existing image? More research into the artist’s immediate context might yield additional answers.