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. 

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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.

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

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 18/52

http://openn.library.upenn.edu/Data/0007/lehigh_codex_018/data/web/9146_0030_web.jpg 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. 

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

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 3/52

http://openn.library.upenn.edu/Data/0007/lehigh_codex_019/data/web/6689_0012_web.jpg
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

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And that’s how we roll…

Update: now on BiblioPhilly’s OPenn, for high-resolution viewing and downloading: http://openn.library.upenn.edu/Data/0007/html/lehigh_roll_008.html

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.