Traces of use (and a Pilgrim’s badge!) in a well-traveled Book of Hours

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 12/52

Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, 1945‑65‑11, beginnings and miniatures for suffrages to Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Anthony Abbot, pp. 277 and 279

Last week, we looked at the fanfare-style binding of a dainty yet otherwise apparently relatively unremarkable Book of Hours produced in France in the mid-fifteenth century. Yet the book’s pages actually contains a whole variety of additional clues as to its early use. These seemingly small traces showcase several of the kinds of early ownership information we can sometimes extract when we look closely at a Books of Hours. Amazingly, all of this evidence existed within the book before it was given its current, eye-catchingly tooled binding at the end of the sixteenth century.   This is an image of 286 from Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑11, Book of Hours, Use of Rome (France, 1445 - 1455).
1945‑65‑11, full-page miniature of Saint Adrian with interlaced initials I-Z and effaced coat-of-arms, p. 286 (with detail)

For example, a full-page miniature on the book’s final page bears a handsome-yet-damaged image of Saint Adrian of Nicomedia (recognizable by his anvil and lion), backed by a cloth-of-honor set within a Gothic architectural space and surrounded by an emblematic border, each bearing the unidentified interlaced initials “I-Z.” A coat-of-arms, unfortunately obliterated, is set below the miniature. This image was likely added to the book in the last two decades of the fifteenth century, either in Northern France or the Netherlands, judging by the general style of the miniature. The specific details of Adrian’s fur-lined cap and armor, the latter painted with powdered silver pigment that has oxidized to black, also point to a date slightly before the year 1500. Note the similarities and differences with this image of Saint Adrian by the Master of Jacques of Luxembourg, dated to between 1466 and 1470.

  This is an image of 262 from Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑11, Book of Hours, Use of Rome (France, 1445 - 1455).
1945‑65‑11, end of “Obsecro te” prayer with early ownership inscription, p. 262 (with detail)

On page 262, the book contains a crude, barely decipherable ownership inscription that seems to read: “Votre serviteur Jeanne.” A suffrage to Saint Michael is indicated by a rubric on this page, but it has been excised. Clearly, the book was subject to some modifications early in its lifetime. There are also a number of prayers added to the text by an early, yet not original hand, mostly relating to the Conception of Christ.

1945‑65‑11, inscription referring to Hippolyta Maria, duchess of Calabria, p. 34

Most interesting of all are two details, both on p. 34. In a careful but not necessarily professional hand, in Italian, we read “La nostra cara sorella che ne ama più che si stessa Hippolyta Maria duchessa de Calabria.” If this is an ownership mark, it must refer to either Ippolita Maria Sforza (1446-1484), wife of Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, or her granddaughter, Ippolita Sforza (1493-1501), who died at the tender age of eight while engaged to Ferdinand of Aragón, Duke of Calabria. Is it an autograph signature, however, or is it merely making reference to “our dear sister who loves others more than herself”? More research into the handwriting of these individuals may provide an answer.

This is an image of 34 from Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑11, Book of Hours, Use of Rome (France, 1445 - 1455).
1945‑65‑11, outline of sewing holes for a lead or tin pilgrim badge, p. 34 (detail)

But perhaps most remarkably of all, on the lower left side of the same page as the Italian inscription, a faint, bust-shaped mark is visible. This pattern is the outline of sewing holes once used to attach a lead or tin pilgrim’s badge to the page. This practice is attested in other, much more famous books, and it migrated into virtual marginal representations in certain Netherlandish Books of Hours as well.[1] Below are examples of: A), actual pilgrim badges still sewn into the flyleaves of a book; B), multiple offsets of pilgrim badges similar in appearance to ours, and: C), illusionistically painted badges in the border of a so-called Ghent-Bruges style manuscript. Perhaps a detailed look through the Kunera pilgrim badge database will yield some potential candidates for badges that might match our (former) badge in terms of shape and size. As is evident from the pattern left on the page, it consisted of a haloed head and bust, possibly representing Christ. Happy hunting, insignophiles!
A) Book of Hours, Bruges, c. 1440–1460. The Hague, Royal Library of the Netherlands, 77 L 60, fols. 97v–98r (surviving sewn-in pilgrim badges)

B) Book of Hours, Netherlands, c. 1450–1500. San Marino, Huntington Library, Garrett HM 1136, fol. 1r (offsets from sewn-in pilgrim badges)

C) Book of Hours of Engelbert of Nassau, Netherlands, c. 1470–1490. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 219, fol. 16v (illusionistic pilgrim badges)

[1] There is an extensive literature on pilgrim badges in Books of Hours. See, with additional bibliography, Megan Foster-Campbell, “Pilgrimage through the Pages: Pilgrims’ Badges in Late Medieval Devotional Manuscripts,” in Push Me, Pull You: Imaginative and Emotional Interaction in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art, edited by Sarah Blick and Laura D. Gelfand (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 227–76; Hanneke Van Asperen, Pelgrimstekens op perkament: Originele en nageschilderde bedevaartssouvenirs in religieuze boeken (c. 1450-c. 1530) (Nijmegen: Nijmegen University Press, 2010); Isabel von Bredow-Klaus, “Heilsrahmen: spirituelle Wallfahrt und Augentrug in der flämischen Buchmalerei des Spätmittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit” (unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Trier, 2003); Kurt Köster, “Gemalte Kollektionen von Pilgerzeichen Und Religiösen Medaillen in Flämischen Gebet- Und Stundenbüchern Des 15. Und Frühen 16. Jahrhunderts: Neue Funde in Handschriften Der Gent-Brügger Schule,” in Liber Amicorum Herman Liebaers, edited by France Vanwijngaerden (Brussels: Crédit Communal de Belgique, 1984), 485–535.

A “fanfare” for a musical printeress in late-sixteenth-century Paris

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 11/52

Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, 1945‑65‑11, upper and lover covers (with “LUCRECE DU GUE” inscription)

A small mid-fifteenth-century Book of Hours now in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PMA 1945-65-11, is housed in a beautifully preserved gilt-tooled à la fanfare binding that can be dated stylistically to the end of the sixteenth century. These distinctive and highly prized bindings are most closely associated with bookbinders working in Paris between about 1570 and 1630, and are identifiable by their geometrical “strapwork” designs, which are usually comprised of ribbons that feature a single gilt line on one side, and a double line on the other.[1] The way that this design cue creates the illusion of relief on the surface of the cover is especially evident here.

This binding is particularly closely related to those associated with Clovis Ève (active between 1583 and 1633), a famous French bookbinder who became the fifth official “relieur du roi” (binder to the King), following the retirement of his father, Nicolas Ève. Clovis served the French Kings Henri III, Henri IV, and Louis XIII, producing some truly spectacular showpiece bindings. Nevertheless, attributions to him of simpler bindings such as ours remain controversial. Still, there are some clear similarities between our binding and others thought to have been made by Ève fils. Compare the layout and shape of the rectangular compartments and semicircular notches along the border with this example from the University of Amsterdam Special Collections Library, described by Pam van Holthe:

Le Psaultier, qui est le livre des Pseaumes de David, declarez, par breves annotations & gloses entre les versets [Lyon] : [Jean de Tournes], 1559 (bound with other texts). Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam Special Collections Library, OTM: Band 2 D 12 (1), upper and lower covers

Or this, a less well-preserved specimen from the British Library (which similarly encloses a French Book of Hours):

Heures a lusaige de Romme toutes au long. Sans riens requerir. Auec plusieurs suffraiges et orations tāt en latin que en francoys nouuelement Imprimes a paris (Paris: 1521). London, British Library, c41c13, upper and lower covers

But who would have commissioned such an ornate (and costly) binding over a century after this book was produced? The answer is provided by medallions found at the centers of the upper and lower covers on our book, which contain the letters “LUCRECE” and “DU GUE” respectively. This first and last name is undoubtedly identifiable with the noted printeress Lucrèce Dugué (1544–1615), daughter of Perrette Edinthon and Jean Dugué (the French King’s organist).[2] As the widow of Robert I Ballard (c. 1525–1588) and mother of Pierre I Ballard (c. 1580–1636), Dugué continued her husband’s printing firm, which had the monopoly on all forms of musical printing at the time. During the last decades of her lifetime, she continued to run the family shop located at the sign of Mount Parnassus on the Rue Saint-Jean de Beauvais, right in the heart of the Parisian book trade. It is, of course, unsurprising that such a well-connected figure would have had access to the services of a prestigious binding workshop, even for a personal devotional book. But it is likewise interesting that the owner of a firm so invested in the technology of print would opt to embellish a manuscript Book of Hours which must have appeared dated at the time. However, as we have seen with other sixteenth-century owners, the cachet of beautiful manuscripts remained strong, well into the age of moveable type!

Not wanting to judge a book exclusively by its cover, next week we’ll look more closely at some of the earlier evidence of use found within this book.
1945‑65‑11, view of spine, fore-edge, head, and tail

[1] For à la fanfare bindings, see Anthony Hobson, “Three Bindings à la Fanfare and the Origins of the Fanfare Style,” in The Arcadian Library: Bindings and Provenance, edited by Giles Mandelbrote and Willem de Bruijn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 177–192; José Ruysschaert, “Les reliures ‘a la fanfare’ des collections vaticanes,” Bulletin de la Société des Bibliophiles de Guyenne (July–December 1967): 161–203; and Geoffrey D. Hobson, Les reliures à la fanfare: le problème de l’s fermé (Amsterdam: Gérard Th. van Heusden, 1970;original edition 1935).

[2] See Roméo Arbour, Dictionnaire des femmes libraires en France, 1470–1870 (Geneva: Droz, 2003), 50, s.v. “Ballard”; Stanley Sadie, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 2 (London, Macmillan, 1980), 83.

What “Use” is it? A Book of Hours rightfully restituted to the Walloon city of Mons

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 10/52

Book of Hours, Use of Mons, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 89, fol. 1r (beginning of the Hours of the Virgin)

The “Use” in a Book of Hours generally refers to the specific, regional variants found in the central devotional text, the Hours of the Virgin. Because these variants are often specific to a city or region in Europe, determining the “Use” of a Book of Hours can, at least in theory, help us determine where the book was intended to be read and prayed from. This can be helpful information indeed when faced with a Book of Hours that otherwise has no ownership or localization information! Use can be determined by comparing the Antiphon and Chapter readings for two of the Hours of the Virgin–Prime and None–to lists established by scholars on the basis of firmly-situated manuscript Books of Hours or early printed editions, most actually printed in Paris, that nonetheless state explicitly for which town they were meant to be used.

Because our understanding of “Use” has evolved and improved over time, it is important to double-check information asserted by scholars in the past. The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Lewis E 89 is a well-used and quite plain Book of Hours of circa 1400, previously catalogued as being of the Use of Châlons-sur-Marne in the Champagne region of France.  However, the particular combination of Antiphons and Chapters in the Hours of the Virgin is equally valid for Mons, in present-day Belgium, and thus the book is more likely identifiable as being produced in the diocese of Mons. Moreover, its litany includes local saints Ghislain (fol. 94v), and Waldetrudis, (fol. 95v). The same saints are included in a two-folio fragment of a folio now in Montreal (McGill University Library, Rare Books and Special Collections, Ms. 99).

Lewis E 89, fols. 94v and 95v (litany with Saints Ghislain, left, third line from bottom; and Waldetrudis, right, second line from top)

As the inscription on folio 1r attests (illustrated at the top of the post), the book was owned in the 17th century by the Jesuit College at Louvain, further bolstering the Wallonian provenance. This Jesuit institution was suppressed in 1778 and many of its volumes went to Louvain’s university library, which itself was partially looted during the Napoleonic wars. Other volumes made their way into the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels, and many are noted as coming from Louvain in a manner similar to ours (i.e. “Collegii societatis Jesu Lovanii”). The rest of Louvain’s university library was, of course, tragically destroyed by German forces in the First World War.

Murder in Lombardy! The original owner of a rare Italian Book of Hours identified

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 9/52
Book of Hours (here identified as the Hours of Cornelia Rhò), Use of Rome, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 206, fols. 16v-17r (full-page miniature of the Virgin and Child, and beginning of the Hours of the Virgin with historiated initial and coat-of-arms)

Though in rather poor condition, a closer look at this neglected Renaissance Book of Hours from Lombardy, Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis E 206, can tell us a great deal about its original context. Despite bearing a Lewis shelf mark, the manuscript was a gift to the Free Library from Simon Gratz (1840–1925), a Philadelphia lawyer, education reformer, and autograph collector. Like an item we examined several weeks ago, this manuscript never belonged to John Frederick Lewis and therefore was not described in the 1937 catalogue of the Lewis Collection’s 200 western manuscripts.[1] Prior to being owned by Gratz, the book had been in the possession of another lawyer, George T. Strong of New York (1820–1875), who had acquired the book by 1843, when he inscribed his name on one of the flyleaves. Incidentally, Strong’s notoriety stems from the survival of his 2,250-page diary, rediscovered in the 1930s, which records nearly every day of his adult life in great detail, including the purchase on 30 May 1837 of a “a vellum MS., very splendidly and elaborately illuminated, and several large pictures of the Crucifixion, etc.,” which could plausibly refer to this manuscript, if we interpret the Crucifixion pictures as separate items.[2] The manuscript thus came to the New World relatively early on, but that is certainly not where its story begins!

Beyond this American provenance, the book’s origins have until now remained obscure. Perhaps on account of its somewhat compromised condition, the book was not included in the landmark Leaves of Gold exhibition in 2001. It is therefore essentially unpublished. And yet, present at the bottom of the first page of the Hours of the Virgin, on folio 17r, are a straightforward heraldic escutcheon bearing two impaled coats-of-arms (i.e. shown fully side-by-side to indicate a matrimonial union) and a somewhat less easily discernible name. These elements do not appear to have been altered through overpainting. They therefore must indicate the original owner.


Image result for stemma da rho  
Lewis E 206, fol. 17r (detail of Visconti/da Rhò coat-of-arms) and their modern equivalents below

The right or sinister side of the coat-of-arms is readily identifiable as a serpent devouring a human baby, the famous vipera or Biscione, employed by the Visconti rulers of Milan and incorporated into the arms of their successors, the Sforza (argent an azure serpent devouring a child gules, or, in Italian, d’argento alla biscia d’azzurro ingolante un bambino di carnagione). The heraldic field behind the Biscione appears black due to the oxidization of the original silver. The dexter side of the arms is of a less famous family, the De Raude or da Rhò (Gules, a wheel argent, in Italian, di rosso, alla ruota d’argento), with the cart wheel being a play on the Latin word “rota” or wheel. Happily, the blue cartouche that surrounds the escutcheon contains a still-legible three-line inscription in gold capitals that reads “CO-RNE/LIA- DE/RA-VDE” or Cornelia de Raude.

I thus began to search for an early-sixteenth-century Italian noblewoman of this name. Because the Sforza, the usurpers of ducal power in Milan, re-employed the Biscione in their more complex arms, I initially thought that the combination in our Book of Hours might be a reference to Cornelia, illegitimate daughter of Ottaviano Riario (1479–1523). Ottaviano was himself the son of Caterina Sforza (1463–1509), and the latter was instrumental in the upbringing of her grandchild Cornelia. The date range seemed approximately correct, and the Sforza link could explain the use of the Biscione on the sinister, as well as the inclusion of a full-page prefatory miniature of Saint Catherine a few pages earlier, on folio 15v.

Lewis E 206, fol. 15v, full-page miniature of Saint Catherine

And yet, Cornelia Riario had no known connection to the da Rhò family. Further research allowed me to conclude that the correct identification lies in the person of Cornelia Rhò (birth date unknown, died after 1538), the daughter of Giovanni Paolo Rhò who married Giovanni II Borromeo (known as “Il gigante,” apparently on account of his size!), in 1518. As the son of Filippo Borromeo and Francesca Visconti, Giovanni II was the descendant of a prominent aristocratic line and served as commander of the Sforza infantry. His grandparents, Count Giovanni Borromeo (1439–1495) and Cle­ofa Pio da Carpi, owned a truly splendid Book of Hours illuminated by Cristoforo de Predis (ca. 1443–1486), today in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana (S.P.42).

Cornelia’s mother-in-law was therefore a Visconti (see family tree below). The greater fame of the Visconti dynasty, and the complexity of the Borromeo family arms, which include a small Biscione anyway, are likely what led to Cornelia to elect to include the Visconti arms on the sinister, stripped of the gold crown atop the viper to signify that ducal power had passed to the Sforza. The wedding of Cornelia and Giovanni in 1518 accords perfectly with the circa 1520 date given to the book on account of the style of its miniatures and inhabited initials, which show the ongoing impact of the art of Leonardo da Vinci and his followers on miniature painting in Lombardy. It therefore seems reasonable to assume that this Book of Hours was a wedding gift to the young bride, either from her new husband, his parents, or her own parents.


Family tree of the Borromeo family, from Vincenzo De-Vit, Il Lago Maggiore, Stresa e le isole Borromee notizie storiche colle vite degli uomini illustri dello stesso lago (Prato: Alberghetti, 1877), 112–113

The da Rhò family had their ancestral origins in the town of the same name, some ten kilometers north-west of Milan, but in the late-fifteenth century were elevated by Gian Galeazzo Sforza to become lords of Borghetto Lodigiano, about ten kilometers south of the bishopric of Lodi, in the Lombard plain. Their imposing residence there, the Palazzo Rhò, still survives and currently serves as the town hall. It was built sometime after 1481 (see here for further information and photos).

Borghetto Lodigiano - palazzo Rho.JPG
Palazzo Rho in Borghetto Lodigiano, the former seat of the da Rhò family.

This book is a valuable addition to the biography of Cornelia Rhò, as precious little else is known about her. She and Giovanni II had a son, Filippo Dionigi, the year after their marriage. He would go on to marry the noted poetess Livia Tornielli. Apparently, for unknown reasons, Cornelia’s brother Baldassarre murdered Giovanni II—her husband and his brother-in-law—in 1536![3] The tomb of Giovanni II survives in the Milanese church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, famous for being home to Leonardo’s Last Supper. [4] In a future post, we’ll explore the authorship and attribution of the manuscript’s high-quality miniatures and inhabited initials, which can help us to further understand the context in which this overlooked gem of the Lombard Renaissance was produced.

[1] Edwin Wolf, A. S. W. Rosenbach, and Richard W. Ellis, A descriptive catalogue of the John Frederick Lewis collection of European manuscripts in the Free library of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Free Library of Philadelphia, 1937).

[2] George Templeton Strong, Diary, vol.1, Young Man in New York, 1835–1849, ed. Allan Nevins and M. H. Thomas (New York: Macmillan, 1952), 66.

[3] Vincenzo De-Vit, Il Lago Maggiore, Stresa e le isole Borromee notizie storiche colle vite degli uomini illustri dello stesso lago (Prato: Alberghetti, 1877), 172.

[4] Pietro C. Marani, Roberto Cecchi, and Germano Mulazzani, Guide to the refectory and Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Milan: Electa, 1999), 67.

Stains Alive! BiblioPhilly and Labeculae vivae: The categorization of stains in alchemical manuscripts using multispectral imaging

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 8/52
A guest post by former Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies CLIR Fellow, Dr. Erin Connelly

Recipes and extracts on alchemy, medicine, metal-working, cosmetics, veterinary science, agriculture, wine-making, and other subjects, Northwestern Italy, Probably before 22 December 1438. Philadelphia, Science History Institute, MS Othmer 1, front cover

Labeculae vivae was a project supported by a microgrant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The project ran for one year, from August 2017 to September 2018, during which stains from about forty Western European manuscripts, ranging from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries, held in the special collections of five partner institutions, were imaged, and subsequently analyzed. In 2016, the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project catalogued manuscripts from the Science History Institute and its Othmer Library of Chemical History, which houses over 140,000 objects, including an invaluable collection of medieval alchemy manuscripts. Prior to the recent work of the BiblioPhilly project, these manuscripts were undigitized and several have never had a printed edition. The team members of Labeculae vivae[1] performed multispectral imaging and analysis on a selection of alchemical manuscripts from the Science History Institute based on stains identified during cataloguing by BiblioPhilly.

Many of the most interesting manuscript stains are found in the bindings and folios of soiled, heavily-used medical and alchemical texts. Signs of this practical use may be obvious, such as burn marks from furnaces, but innocuous-looking stains (e.g. appearing to be water damage) may contain hidden information about medicinal or chemical solutions, or even heavy metal contamination, which is not evident by sight alone. The majority of manuscripts identified as potential candidates for stain analysis have never been accessible in either print or digitized formats. This is especially true of medical and alchemical texts, which are often less well-known than medieval literary works and may be considered less “beautiful” than the illuminated and decorated texts commonly regarded as world treasures.

As an example,[2] we can highlight the analysis and investigative process for Othmer 1 of the Science History Institute, a manuscript from North-Western Italy, dated before the end of 1438, containing “Recipes and extracts on alchemy, medicine, metal-working, cosmetics, veterinary science, agriculture, wine-making, and other subjects.”

MS Othmer 1, fol. 68r

When making a first plot of the spectral curves of the various components of the page, we considered the larger bicolored stain as one component, conjecturing that the central core might be a more concentrated element of the same substance throughout the stain. This has a unique shape that was not reconcilable with anything else on the page, and followed only slightly, as is often the case, that of the paper substrate, since it did not cover it completely, masking its spectral response (see image below).

Plotting the spectral curves for the stain in the middle of the columns as a composite

A Principal Component Analysis (PCA) investigation, however, led us to notice the spectral response of the ruling ink, as opposed to the writing one. This also evidenced the pale yellow-brown components of the large stains, but not the greyish core. Further analysis showed that the central greyish core, resembled the response of the writing ink (see image below). This led us to plot the spectral response a second time, and to separate the two components of the central stain in two different spectral curves: one for the inner darker spot, and one for outer light-colored area. The new curves followed the same respective patterns of the writing ink and of the ruling ink (see second image below). As it is clear from the analysis, the stain must have occurred at the time of writing, and not afterwards. The stain thus reveals the work of an untidy scribe, who spilled the ruling ink pot on the recto of folio 68, and then also dropped some writing ink on the same area, resulting in the composite stain that we can see today. This gives us clues regarding the kind of manuscript that Othmer 1 is: a working copy important for its content and not for its appearance.

False color image showing different ink components highlighted in different colors: ruling in yellow, writing ink in red, and rubrics in blue; the central stain shows similar color configurations: inner core in reddish tone and outside area in yellow

Plotting the spectral curves for each component of the central stain, revealing patterns similar to the writing and ruling inks

Similar to BiblioPhilly, the main objective of Labeculae vivae was to reveal and make available new information about lesser known medieval manuscripts in order to provide a foundation for further scholarly endeavours. Along those lines, over the course of the Labeculae vivae project, we have collected about 220 Gb of data that is now hosted by OPENN, University of Pennsylvania Libraries.[3]

[1] Dr. Alberto Campagnolo, Dr. Erin Connelly, and Dr. Heather Wacha (CLIR postdoctoral fellows at the time of the project), with the generous help of Michael (Mike) B. Toth from R.B. Toth Associates and Dr. William (Bill) Christens-Barry of Equipose Imaging.

[2] This excerpt of text and figures is from Alberto Campagnolo, Erin Connelly, and Heather Wacha, “Labeculæ Vivæ: Building a reference library of stains for medieval and early modern manuscripts,” in Manuscript Studies, A Journal of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (forthcoming 2019).

[3] The repository (ark:/81431/p35d8nj0r) is maintained by The citation URL is

“Love and Humility are the sweet bonds of our marriage:” A Book of Hours owned by the wife of a French Catholic propagandist of the 16th century, and the Governor of Pennsylvania!

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 7/52

Book of Hours, Use of Paris, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1924‑19‑1, fol. 24r (miniature of the Annunciation from the Hours of the Virgin)

Books of Hours are highly mobile objects that can often accrue fascinating later histories. Because of their deeply personal nature, they can become associated with historical persons either through legend or fact (or a combination of the two). Only relatively rarely, however, does one later owner purchase a book on account of its earlier ownership history. One such example is a fairly modest Parisian Book of Hours acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1924 (accession number 1924‑19‑1). Unlike the later ensembles of illuminated manuscripts donated to the museum by Samuel and Vera White or Philip S. Collins, this manuscript was not published or described upon its entry into the collection.[1] Its only existing description comes from Seymour de Ricci’s Census of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the United States and Canada and its later Supplement, produced by C.U. Faye and W.H. Bond.

In both Census volumes, the manuscript’s early provenance with the Duderé family in France is briefly recorded, as is its later ownership in the United States by Samuel W. Pennypacker, 23rd Governor of Pennsylvania (1843–1916), who served from 1903 to 1907 (and to whom we shall return). The Duderé provenance is evident through two unequivocal inscriptions within the manuscript. The first, on folio 1r, reads:

1924‑19‑1, fol. 1r, with ownership inscription of Michelle Duderé dated to 1577

Ces heures apartiennent a damoyselle Michelle du Deré femme de Me Loys Dorleans aduocat en la court de Parlement et lesquelles luy sont echeues par la succession de feu son pere Me Jehan Duderé conseiller du roy & auditeur en sa chambre des comptes, 1577; Amour & Humilité sont les doux liens de nostre mariage.

(“This Book of Hours belongs to Lady Michelle du Deré wife of Mr. Louis d’Orléans advocate in the court of Parliament and it descended from her deceased father Mr. Jean Duderé counsellor of the King and auditor in his chamber of accounts. 1577. Love and Humility are the sweet bonds of our marriage.”)

It thus transpires that the book was in the possession of Michelle Duderé, wife of the noted French Catholic League pamphleteer Louis Dorléans (1542–1629).[2] In addition to being known for authoring numerous religious tracts, Dorléans was also an occasional poet, and wrote some bucolic verses replete with thinly-veiled references to his beloved wife, but also to his former mistress Catherine de la Sale![3] Interestingly, some of his writings also show an unusual knowledge of Middle French poetry; he even donated a fourteenth-century French translation of the Golden Legend to a Minim convent in Paris in 1561 (Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, ms. 1279). Michelle Duderé, as she herself tells us in the inscription, had inherited the Book of Hours from her father, Jean Duderé, notary and secretary to the French king, whose principal historical importance seems to have been his invocation in a seventeenth-century lawsuit concerning the inheritance of such royal appointments. It appears that the manuscript was then gifted by Michelle Duderé’s blind son to a cousin once-removed, a certain G. Duderé, for on the verso of the first folio we read another French inscription, written some seventy-three years later:

1924‑19‑1, fol. 1r, with ownership inscription of G. Duderé dated to 1650

Ce présent livre m’a esté donné par feu monsieur d’Orléans, fils de mademoiselle d’Orléans nomée Michelle Duderé lequel estoit aveugle et qui estoit digne de cette affliction, mon cousin germain, G. Dudere 1650… les figures qui sont à genoux dans les ymages de ce livre sont de feu damoiselle Michelle de Sauslai [?] mère de deffunct mon frère.

(“This present book was given to me by the late Monsieur D’Orleans son of Madame D’Orleans named Michelle Dudere. He was blind and worthily bore this affliction, my cousin once removed. G. Dudere 1650… the figures which are on their knees in the pictures of this book are portraits of the deceased demoiselle Michelle de Sauslai [?], mother of my deceased father.”)

1924‑19‑1, fols. 124r and 130r (miniature of the Virgin and Child with Angel with a female donor; miniature of the Trinity with an Angel holding the Crown of Thorns with a female donor)

The supposition that the two donor portraits (on folios 124r and 130r; illustrated above) contained in the book depict a certain “Michelle de Sauslai” (?), grandmother of the owner alive in 1650 is manifestly incorrect, since the book dates from the fifteenth century. But there is no reason to doubt the other pieces of evidence situating the book with the Duderé family early in its history.

Portrait of Samuel W. Pennypacker.jpg
Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker (1843–1916)

This is all fine and well, but how did the manuscript come to be owned by the Governor of Pennsylvania, Samuel Pennypacker? Pennypacker was a noted jurist, trustee of the University of Pennsylvania, president of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and local history enthusiast who collected a large amount of material related to the early German and Dutch settlement of South-Eastern Pennsylvania, most of which is today preserved at the Pennypacker Mills house museum. Other manuscripts once owned by Pennypacker that are still in Philadelphia include another Book of Hours (Lewis E 116) and a series of astronomical tables followed by a short text concerning astrology and planetary movements (Lewis E 3), both of which are today in the Free Library. These manuscripts were all auctioned off in the Pennypacker sale in 1906, together with a small number of other manuscripts. Additionally, for the present manuscript, the Faye and Bond supplement to de Ricci’s Census includes the name of an additional owner, the noted Chestnut Hill philanthropist, John Story Jenks (1839–1923). Jenks was a great supporter of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (the precursor of the Philadelphia Museum of Art), as a short obituary confirms.[4] It was he who left the manuscript to the museum upon his death.
Portrait of John Story Jenks (1839–1923) by Alice Mumford Roberts

So why did Governor Pennypacker purchase this particular French Book of Hours, prior to its acquisition and donation by Jenks? The answer is provided in an all-but-forgotten issue of a regional historical journal, The Perkiomen Region, Past and Present, published in March of 1901 by Henry S. Dotterer (1841–1903). The short article, entitled “A Sumptuous Devotional Book,” vividly describes the book and asserts that the Governor:

…purchased it because he felt convinced that the family of Duderé mentioned in the inscription was identical with an old Pennsylvanian family—that of Doderer, Dotterer, Dudderer, Duttera, Dudderow. This conviction induced him to pay the large sum quoted for it by the foreign bookseller [i.e. James Tregaskis of London], and to bring it, after a service of more than three centuries, from its native France to the New World.

To find the connecting links from the Duderés of the Sixteenth century to the Dotterers of the Twentieth century would be a great genealogical achievement. Doderers and Dotterers appear in various parts of Europe prior to the date of the arrival, about 1722, of George Philip Dodderer, or Dotterer, in Pennsylvania. Tradition, in some instances, asserts that the Pennsylvania immigrants were of French origin; but not uniformly so, for Alsace, Baden, Wurtemberg and Austria are also named as the place of their nativity. We have unbounded respect for Judge Pennypacker’s insight into genealogy, ethnology, and the kindred sciences, and it will therefore not be a surprise to us if research shall ultimately prove that his intuitions are correct.[5]

The prominent Dotterer family of Pennsylvania was established by George Phillip Dotterer (ca. 1676–1741), who was born in Baden-Württemberg and died in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in 1741. George’s father Hans is thought to have been born in the same region of Germany as his son around 1650. However, this family’s link to the prominent Catholic Duderés of France remains tenuous. As such, Governor Pennypacker’s assumption remains unlikely; perhaps his doubts led him to sell the book on in his 1906 sale. In any case, both G. Duderé’s misattribution of the portraits in the book and the dubious linkage to the Dotterer dynasty made by Governor Pennypacker demonstrate the extent to which an unsuspecting manuscript can become the subject of historical wishful thinking.

[1] Henry G. Gardiner, “The Samuel S. White, 3rd, and Vera White Collection,” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 63, no. 296/297 (1968): 71–150,; Carl Zigrosser, “The Philip S. Collins Collection of Mediaeval Illuminated Manuscripts,” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 58, no. 275 (1962): 3–34,

[2] See the entry by Christophe Bernard in Dictionnaire des lettres françaises: le XVIe siècle, ed. Michel Simonin (Paris: Fayard-La Pochothèque, 2001), 370–71.

[3] Anne-Bérangère Rothenburger, “L’Eglogue de la naissance de Jésus-Christ pas Louis Dorléans: datation et filiation poétiques,” in Le poète et son œuvre: de la composition à la publication, ed. Jean-Eudes Girot (Geneva: Droz, 2004), 259–87.

[4] Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin 18, no. 77 (May 1923): 16.

[5] Henry S. Dotterer, “A Sumptuous Devotional Book,” The Perkiomen Region, Past and Present 3, no. 2 (March 1901): 166–7.