Louis + Anne Forever

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.

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Staring at the (Sistine) Ceiling

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 51/52

Attavante degli Attavanti, Historiated initial T from a Missal showing the Lamentation, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E M 25:9, front (recto)

To-date, in the Fifty-Two Discoveries from the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis blog posts, we have been dealing with more-or-less complete manuscripts books (also known as codices), held in a variety of repositories around Philadelphia. But the city is also home to one of the largest holdings of Medieval and Renaissance manuscript fragments—by which I mean either: a) entire detached leaves; b) scraps used as binding reinforcement; or c) smaller excised portions of pages known as “cuttings”—in the world. Namely, the John Frederick Lewis collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia, which numbers around 2,300 such items.1 Recently, the BiblioPhilly project interface has been updated to include this enormous collection, which had been digitized previously. Today’s post deals with one of the items from this collection, and a potentially exciting discovery related to it.

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From Treviso to TEI: Sister Manuscripts from Montello?

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 50/52

Ambrose of Milan, Hexameron, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 4, fol. 1r; Moral and didactic writings, Bethlehem, Lehigh University, Linderman Library, Lehigh Codex 4, fol. 55v

While sleuthing around in the BiblioPhilly interface, I became intrigued by two manuscripts, now at the Free Library of Philadelphia and Lehigh University, respectively, that seemed to share the same early provenance. Though quite different in nature, both manuscripts had catalogue information situating them in the library of the former Carthusian monastery of San Girolamo at Montello, outside of the historic city of Treviso about twenty kilometers north of Venice. This monastery was closed, sold off, and demolished in the wake of the Napoleonic invasions of the early nineteenth century, so it would not be altogether surprising to find remnants of its library scattered across North America. As we’ll see, however, only one of the volumes now united virtually through our regional digitization initiative can be pinpointed within a pre-dissolution inventory of the monastery’s library, a precious document likewise made available to us through the wonders of digitization.

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