Italian with a French Accent (Part II): Attributing the Illuminations of Lewis E 207

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 42/52

  
Prayer Book, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 207, fol. 1r (miniature of the Presentation in the Temple); Gian Giacomo Trivulzio in Prayer before Saint Jerome, Trivulzio Hours, Madrid, Biblioteca Lazaro Galdiano, inv. 15454, fol. 16v (miniature of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio in Prayer before Saint Jerome)

Back in October, I posted about the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Lewis E 207, an unusual northern Italian prayer book that is prefaced by four abbreviated prayers from the Hours of the Virgin, each illustrated by a miniature executed in a naive but charming style and surrounded by illusionistic flower stems that seem to be threaded through the page. In conducting further research on this item for the Making the Renaissance Manuscript: Discoveries from Philadelphia Libraries exhibition, I contacted Professor Pier Luigi Mulas of the University of Pavia, an expert in Lombard illumination of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, who very helpfully suggested some interesting stylistic comparisons and the potential identity of the artist responsible for the images and the borders.

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Overlooked Texts, Overlooked Images (Part II): Mystery Engravings

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 41/52
A guest post by National Gallery of Art Associate Curator of Old Master Prints, Brooks Rich

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Album of Engravings and Devotional Texts by Erasmus, Marco Girolamo Vida, and Prudentius, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 179, fol. 11r, Annunciation (detail); Albrecht Dürer, Annunciation from The Small Woodcut Passion, probably ca. 1509/1510, Washington, DC, National Gallery of Art, Rosenwald Collection, 1943.3.3635

The first part of this blog post examined the interesting selection of texts, previously unidentified, that were included in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Lewis E 207 prayer book. Today, our subject is the series of engravings found within that same book. From the very beginning of their production in the late fourteenth century, single-leaf prints were pasted into prayer books and other private volumes and sometimes even further painted and gilded as inexpensive substitutes for illuminated miniatures.1

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Overlooked Texts, Overlooked Images (Part I): An Erasmian Album

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 40/52

  
Album of Engravings and Devotional Texts by Erasmus, Marco Girolamo Vida, and Prudentius, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 179, fols. 46v–47r, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Prayer for Seious Illness; engraving, Christ breaking bread with the Apostles

Sixteenth-century books that combine manuscript text with engraved or woodcut images can sometimes fall through the cracks of scholarship. On account of their hybrid character, they are often neglected by manuscript specialists in favor of entirely hand-written books. At the same time, scholars of early printing, on the lookout for editions by recognizable publishers, tend to cast aside these complex combined works in the search for more easily classifiable items. However, over the past several decades these tendencies have started to change. Increasingly, scholars have taken on the complex interface of early printing and handwriting as a fascinating subject in and of itself.1

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Nau, Naulet, Noël: Part II (a fragment of the Chanson de la Grue)

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 37/52

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Noels (Book of Christmas Carols in French), Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 211, fol. 5r (detail)

Last week, we looked at the lively pen-and-ink illustrations in this remarkable anthology of French Christmas carol lyrics from the 1520s, and discovered the lyrics to a poem by the famous Franciscan preacher, Olivier Maillard. This week, we will look at another text within the book, before finishing with a quick overview of some of the splendid penwork initials that embellish the book as well.

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Nau, Naulet, Noël: Part I (a poem by Olivier Maillard)

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 36/52

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Noels (Book of Christmas Carols in French), Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 211, fols. 17v (detail).

As the holiday season approaches, it seems appropriate to devote a pair of posts to a lovely, if little-known gem of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s collection of manuscripts. This charming and well-used manuscript on paper contains an anthology of lyrics for Christmas carols, or Noels, written principally in French and dating to the 1520s.

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A Quire of “Better” Angels (No Pun Intended)

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 32/52

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Book of Hours, Use of Bourges, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 87, fol. 9r (detail)

A few weeks ago, we looked at a Book of Hours at the Free Library of Philadelphia (Lewis E 87) that bears an ownership inscription by Jean Lallemant dated to 1544, but which is fact a noticeably older book, produced around the turn of the sixteenth century. Today, we will inspect the book’s unusual border decoration more closely in an attempt to determine the identity of its illuminator. While the book is missing its eight large miniatures, the cherubs and seraphs in the margins contain just enough stylistic information to allow for an attribution. Or at least, a partial one.

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