Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 52/52
Illuminated Initial and Partial Border with Emblems of Anne of Brittany and Louis XII, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis T 659, front
We began this blog series with a post on a previously unknown prophetic treatise on the year 1512, personally written by Jean Lemaire de Belges for the great patroness and Queen of France, Anne of Brittany. Suitably, we will end the series with another, perhaps less spectacular but nonetheless interesting discovery related to this superlative promoter of the arts and inveterate bibliophile. The above item, previously unclassified and among the Free Library of Philadelphia’s circa 2,300 manuscript fragments hailing from the John Frederick Lewis Collection, could be mistaken at first glance for the upper-left-hand-corner cutting from any French manuscript leaf produced around the year 1500. Looking more closely, however, we find the initials L and A, the former embellished with a crown. In the triangular interstices formed by the zig-zag border motif, we additionally find a diapered pattern of fleurs-de-lys and ermine tails. These are distinctive symbols, ones that allow us to identify the fragment in question as a remnant of a great Gradual (the book of chants, often very large, containing musical settings for the Mass) produced for the Anne of Brittany and Louis XII of France around 1498.