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):

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

Juan de Londono and family (1587):

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

and Agustin de Yturbe and family (1593):

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.

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).   IMG_5720
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.


A Book of Hours from Renaissance Lyon, with miniatures by a Master of Ceremonies

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 18/52 Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Bethlehem, PA, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Codex 18, fol. 1r (large miniature of the Arrest of Christ and bas-de-page vignette showing Judas Receiving the Thirty Pieces of Silver)

Among the trove of great manuscripts from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, are several richly illuminated Books of Hours. One of these, Lehigh Codex 18, is particularly interesting because of the distinctive style of its elaborate miniatures, which indicate that the book was produced in France, likely in Lyon, in the second decade of the sixteenth century. As the thirteen large miniatures are particularly charming (and totally unpublished!), it seems appropriate to display them in their entirety for the reader. These miniatures are surrounded by rather inventive two-level all’antica architectural frames painted in shell gold (gold powder mixed into a binding medium, as opposed to gold leaf), with the three lines of intervening text transformed into illusionistic scrolls or banderoles. The miniature of the Arrest of Christ, shown above, is the first of this type within the book. It follows the vignette-illustrated calendar and introduces the Passion According to Saint John. Next come the miniatures traditionally found in the Hours of the Virgin.
Lehigh Codex 18, fols. 21r (large miniature of the Annunciation and bas-de-page vignette showing Musician Angels) and 33v (large miniature of the Visitation with a Handmaiden and bas-de-page vignette showing Joseph and Mary traveling with a Handmaiden)
Lehigh Codex 18, fols. 41v (large miniature of the Nativity and bas-de-page vignette showing Traveling Shepherds) and 45r (large miniature of the Annunciation to the Shepherds and bas-de-page vignette showing Two Shepherds Speaking)
Lehigh Codex 18, fols. 50v (large miniature of the Presentation in the Temple and bas-de-page vignette showing Two Prophets) and 53v (large miniature of the Flight into Egypt and bas-de-page vignette showing the Miracle of the Wheat Field)
Lehigh Codex 18, fol. 59r (large miniature of the Coronation of the Virgin and bas-de-page vignette showing Musician Angels)

We then have the two habitual miniatures for the Hours of the Cross and Hours of the Holy Spirit.
Lehigh Codex 18, fols. 71r (large miniature of the Carrying of the Cross and bas-de-page vignette showing the Flagellation) and 74r (large miniature of Pentecost and bas-de-page vignette showing Saint John the Evangelist and the Virgin Meet a Group of Men)

A striking miniature of Bathsheba illustrates the Penitential Psalms.
Lehigh Codex 18, fol. 77r (large miniature of David and Bathsheba with an Attendant and bas-de-page vignette showing David and Bathsheba with Onlookers)

The “Three Living and Three Dead” iconography prefaces the Office of the Dead.
Lehigh Codex 18, fol. 91r (large miniature of the Three Living and Three Dead and bas-de-page vignette showing the Raising of Lazarus)

Finally, the first suffrage, dedicated to the Trinity, is illustrated with a somewhat unusual depiction of an isomorphic God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, surmounted by a shared, lobed crown.
Lehigh Codex 18, fol. 123v (large miniature with isomorphic Trinity Holding an Orb and bas-de-page vignette showing Musical Angels)

Who painted these minute masterpieces from the early sixteenth century? While we might not be able to identify the person by name conclusively, the artist’s hand is identifiable in a large corpus of illuminated manuscripts. The miniatures in our book are practically identical in style to those of the so-called Master of the Entry of Francis I, the anonymous illuminator so-named after a manuscript now in Wolfenbüttel, Germany, and which contains fascinating illustrations of temporary “tableaux vivants” set-up by the citizens of Lyon throughout the city to greet the French King in July of 1515 as he embarked on his first military campaign to Italy (Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 86.4 Extrav.).1 These ephemeral civic displays were an important part of late Medieval and Renaissance ceremonial culture, and high-ranking artists were often called upon to assist in planning and organization.2 The artist was active in the city of Lyon from about 1485 to 1515. While he remains anonymous, Elizabeth Burin suggested that he may be identifiable with the documented scribe and illuminator Antoine Pingaud.3 Tania Lévy, on the other hand, posited that he might be one and the same with the glass painter Jean Ramel.4 To-date, some twenty-five manuscripts containing his work have been identified, including thirteen books of hours. Miniatures in a further Book of Hours, currently with Les Enluminures, may be by members of his workshop. The Lehigh manuscript represents a new and exciting addition to this substantial body of work.
Wolfebüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 86.4 Extrav., fols. 7v–8r (double full-page miniature showing La Nef du Cerf-Volant)

To get to know the artist’s style, it is best to look first at his eponymous manuscript. The most memorable image from the Wolfenbüttel codex extends across two pages and shows a magnificent “Ship of State” in the waters of the Rhone, an allegory for Francis’ reign. On the left, Charles III of Bourbon is astride the winged stag with his flaming sword, leading the warship, which is in turn commanded by the young king from the forecastle.5 Riding as passengers are the Queen, Claude of France, and her sister Renée. Steering the ship from the poop deck is the Marshal of France, Jean Jaquez. A divine putto, Zephyr, fills the sails with a bellows from the crow’s nest. Obviously, this remarkable image is highly specific and doesn’t lend itself easily to stylistic comparison. But other images within the book allow for a closer comparison to the somewhat more commonplace iconographies found within the Lehigh Book of Hours.
Cod. Guelf. 86.4 Extrav., fols. 11v (full-page miniature showing Le Clos de France) and 18r (full-page miniature showing Le Baptème de Clovis)

A detailed comparison of our image of the Trinity with the blessing God the Father from folio 18r of the Wolfenbüttel manuscript, for example, shows an identical approach the facial construction, with straight eyebrows, a long vertical stroke to shade the right side of the nose, askance eyes, beards underscored by a black line on one side only, etc…. Note the identical design of the emanating gold rays as well. Clearly, we are dealing with the same painter, perhaps only a few years apart.

HyperFocal: 0   00043
Lehigh Codex 18, fol. 123v (detail), and Cod. Guelf. 86.4 Extrav., fol. 18r (detail)

Another stylistic comparison, this time with a Book of Hours by the Master of the Entry of Francis I today in San Marino (Huntington Library, HM 1181), shows marked similarities between the two Annunciations. While they do not follow exactly the same model (our manuscript shows a kneeling rather than sitting Virgin Mary), the similarities are indisputable, right down to the colors of the floor tiles, the textiles of the canopy, the gold highlights on the virgin’s robe, the angel Gabriel’s brocade, and the view through to the green space beyond. Note also how the stylish frame in the San Marino Annunciation echoes elements from several of the frames in the Lehigh book, albeit in a different combination.

HyperFocal: 0   002764A
Lehigh Codex 18, fol. 21r, and San Marino, Huntington Library, HM 1181, fol. 17r

Though we know much about the artist’s œuvre, if not his name, Lehigh Codex 18 provides no secure evidence as to the identity of its original owner. Though the book’s much more recent red velvet binding is decorated with elaborate filigree mounts incorporating the niello arms of the great Italian scholar, poet, and prelate Cardinal Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), these are likely a spurious nineteenth-century addition. Thus, the manuscript and its miniatures provide a good illustration of how patient art-historical connoisseurship and stylistic analysis can often help us understand a context that is all but unrecoverable through other means.
Lehigh Codex 18, upper and lower covers with filigree mounts and niello arms of Cardinal Pietro Bembo


The identification of a Spanish patron for a neglected Book of Hours

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 3/52
Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Bethlehem, PA, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Codex 19, fol. 3r

Lehigh University’s small but excellent collection of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts deserves to be better known–and soon will be thanks to the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis digitization project! Only the first sixteen of the university’s manuscripts to be acquired were described (and briefly at that) in Seymour de Ricci’s Census of medieval and renaissance manuscripts in the United States and Canada (1935–1940); later acquisitions were not listed in the supplement to the census published in 1962. In 1970, the young John C. Hirsh (now a professor of English at Georgetown University), who received his doctorate from Lehigh that very year, organized an exhibition of the manuscripts and published a short guidebook to them, which was the first attempt at a complete checklist: Western Manuscripts of the Twelfth through the Sixteenth Centuries in Lehigh University Libraries: A Guide to the Exhibition.

The 1970 exhibition provided some new information about Lehigh’s manuscripts, but nothing like a comprehensive catalog, and there remains much research to be done on this collection. A case in point is Lehigh Codex 19, a Book of Hours of the Use of Rome described by Hirsh as a “15th-century manuscript on vellum, written in France.” A closer examination of the manuscript in fact reveals that it was produced in Flanders for export to Spain, a phenomenon that was quite widespread in the fifteenth and early-sixteenth centuries (and another example of which may be the famous Collins Hours at the Philadelphia Museum of Art).1

To begin with, the coat-of-arms visible on fol. 3r, nestled amidst a charming “Ghent-Bruges”-style border more typical of Flanders in the early sixteenth century, is identifiable as that of the Ayala family of Toledo, Spain: Argent, two wolves passant sable in pale, a bordure gules charged with eight saltires or (in Spanish, “En campo de plata, dos lobos de sable, uno sobre otro; bordura de gules, con ocho aspas de oro”). The Ayala de Toldeo family was prominent in royal affairs in Spain around the turn of the sixteenth century, having been awarded the Duchy of Fuensalida by Henry IV of Castile in 1470.2 While the book contains no further information as to the exact original owner of the book, an examination of the Ayala dynasty allows us to posit a number of potential candidates, either among the sons and daughters of Pedro López de Ayala II, whose death in 1486 probably occurred before the book was made, or among the children of Alfonso de Silva y Ayala, perhaps Pedro López de Ayala IV, who died in 1537. [edit: As Peter Kidd rightly points out in a comment below, the Obsecro te and O intemerata prayers, as well as the prayer of Saint Augustine, contain feminine forms, confirming that the book’s first intended recipient was a woman. This makes the most likely owner Leonor de Ayala, about whom little is known, or perhaps one of her sisters or her niece, Maria de Silva Ayala.]


Family tree drawn from Juan Ramon Palencia Herrejón, “Elementos Simbólicos de Poder de la Nobleza urbana en Castilla: los Ayala de Toledo al final del Medievo,” En la España medieval 18 (1995): 177 (article pp. 163–180)

The imposing Ayala residence in Toledo, the Palacio de Fuensalida, survives today as the headquarters of the presidency of Castilla-La Mancha. The building’s interior and facade are emblazoned with the coat-of-arms found in our Book of Hours.   Palacio de Fuensalida 000.jpg
Exterior facade and interior courtyard of the Palacio de Fuensalida, Toledo, Spain

Other evidence of our manuscript’s intended use and eventual presence in Spain abounds. The manuscript contains Castilian rubrics for a series of fifteen unusual prayers that appear to be associated with Giles of Rome (lived ca. 1243–1316; fols. 109r-181v), and an inquisition verification inscription on fol. 181v, dated to 1573.
Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Codex 19, fols. 190r and 181v

By coincidence, another manuscripts preserved in the region, at The Rosenbach Library and Museum, also contains a (previously identified) coat-of-arms of this same family. Rosenbach MS 482/2, a Spanish translation of De regimine principum produced around the year 1500, includes the Ayala de Toldeo arms in the bottom right hand corner of folio 18r. Interestingly, this treatise on the conduct of princes was originally written by Giles of Rome, the author to whom some of the prayers in the Lehigh Book of Hours seem to be connected. Might there be an Ayala family preference at play here?
De regimine principum, The Rosenbach Library and Museum, MS 482/2, fol. 18r, with detail of Ayala coat-of-arms below compared to that in Lehigh Codex 19



And that’s how we roll…

Update: now on BiblioPhilly’s OPenn, for high-resolution viewing and downloading:

Genealogical rolls showing the direct descent of English kings from Adam were a major (and blatant) propaganda tool during the Wars of the Roses in later fifteenth-century England. The BiblioPhilly libraries have three from the reign of Edward IV, each very fine — but this one from Lehigh University has an intriguing nineteenth-century housing that makes it especially remarkable.

The Lehigh roll is based on the text of a roll that Roger of St. Albans presented to Henry VI, with continuation into the reign of Edward IV. The survival of considerable numbers of the these rolls suggests, as Alison Allan notes, that “they were the work of a small group of craftsmen,”[1] and that their production was deliberately planned to support the usurpation of the young Yorkist king. They showcase his purportedly superior hereditary claim and hint that his accession was divinely foreordained.

The glass-fronted wood housing with rollers and external knobs for this particular roll is an artifact in and of itself, and the question of how to photograph the roll without destroying its  enclosure has been the subject of a great deal of discussion. If removal of the roll from the case is impossible, as seems increasingly likely, the imaging team will explore photographing portions of the roll and digitally stitching it together.

In the meantime, enjoy this video of principal investigator Lois Fischer Black carefully turning the handles to get a full view of the roll.

Lehigh University Ms 8

Roger of St. Albans. Geneaological Roll, in Latin. 15th-century manuscript on a vellum roll 20 feet 5 inches x 12 inches (612.8 x 30 cm.), written in England. Bears the 16th-century inscription “liber Robert Ohlund (?) de Stondlley (?).” Acquired by Lehigh in 1955, the gift of Mr. Robert B. Honeyman, Jr. Chronicle from the time of Adam to the reign of Edward IV.  A high-resolution digitization of this image will be prepared as part of the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis project.

[1] Alison Allan, “Yorkist propaganda: Pedigree, prophecy and the ‘British History’ in the Reign of Edward IV.” C. D. Ross, ed., Patronage, Pedigree and Power in Later Medieval England, Alan Sutton, Rowman & Littlefield, 1979.