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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Charles Thierry is his Name

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 49/52

Book of Hours, Use of Rouen, Philadelphia, The Library Company of Philadelphia, MS 5, front cover and fol. 13r (miniature of the Mass of Saint Gregory)

It is well-known that Books of Hours could be used and treasured by multiple generations of readers. This is made clear by the frequent presence of ownership inscriptions from later centuries that are found on blank folios or flyleaves in many examples of the genre. Sometimes, these statements memorialize the names of later owners not merely as straightforward statements of fact, but instead in the form of  poetic, occasionally humorous verses. Such inscriptions are quite frequent in Books of Hours found in North American collections, as these volumes usually reached the book trade relatively late, after having been passed down through family ties again and again.

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A Noteworthy Genesis in a Parisian Bible

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 48/52

Bible, Swarthmore College, McCabe Library, BS75 1200z, fols. 1r and 4v

Swarthmore College has only one Medieval manuscript in its collections, but it is a little gem: a (probably) Parisian pocket Bible of the 1250s, acquired by the College at auction in 1984 and subsequently rebound.1 Like many fine manuscripts in Philadelphia, it was featured in the Leaves of Gold: Treasures of Manuscript Illumination from Philadelphia Collections exhibition of 2001. In the accompanying catalogue, Kathryn Smith noted that the illuminations in the Bible resemble those of the prolific Mathurin and Soissons ateliers, as defined in Robert Branner’s landmark study of manuscript illumination during the age of Louis IX (reigned 1226–1270).2 Today, we will explore the hitherto undeciphered marginal annotations found on a few pages of the Bible, which give a hint as to its early use in a scholastic setting.

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A Diamond in the Rough

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 47/52

   The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia 10a 189, De fructibus vescendis, fol. 1r

Baptista Massa de Argenta, De fructibus vescendis (On Edible Fruits), Philadelphia, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, fol. 1r

The detailed catalogue of the pre-modern manuscripts held at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, produced by Peter Kidd in 2015, shed light on the provenance of one of two known manuscript copies of an obscure treatise written by an even more obscure physician, a certain Baptista Massa de Argenta, who is known only for writing this text.1 Today, I wish only to add a hypothetical observation that could serve to bolster the argument that the Philadelphia copy of the text (as opposed to the version preserved at the Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea in Ferrara, MS Cl. I 340) is indeed the presentation exemplar, later used as a model for a rare printed edition.

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