Manuscript Road Trip: The Pacific at Last

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

The Flight into Egypt, Walters Art Museum, MS W.188, f.112r

This week we will finally reach the Pacific Ocean, having crossed the northern half of the United States from Maine to Washington. After we make our way through Washington and Oregon, we’ll continue southward down the California coast before turning back towards the Atlantic. working map

We begin inland at Washington State University in Pullman. WSU holds twenty-five single leaves, some of which I catalogued remotely some years ago. They haven’t been digitized, but the handlist is thorough, providing dimensions, contents, incipits and explicits.

In spite of its reputation as one of the rainiest locales in the US, Seattle is a beautiful city, with the Bay to the west and Mt. Ranier to the east. seattleThere are several collections in the city with medieval manuscript holdings. A search in the collections database at the Seattle Art Museum yields several nice leaves of Persian as well as European origin. A few miles north, the University of Washington has recently launched an excellent site devoted to their Medieval Manuscripts. This site is definitely worth exploring, as the University holds dozens of leaves dating from the twelfth through the fifteenth century, including some interesting binding fragments as well as leaves from dismembered books. Among these is another leaf of the Beauvais Missal,

Leaf from the Beauvais Missal (UW MS 65 verso)

Leaf from the Beauvais Missal (UW MS 65 verso)

this one preserving liturgy for the Translation of St. Arnulf of Metz followed by the liturgy for St. Margaret, apparently consecutive with a leaf formerly belonging to Arthur Vershbow that was sold at Christie’s on 9-10 April 2013 (that leaf is described, albeit not illustrated, here). Several of the U. Washington leaves were formerly in the collection of Judge Walter Beals (Olympia, Washington), described in the 1935 de Ricci Census, II:2188-2191; each of the ex-Beals manuscripts has a Beals shelfmark, although the current U. Washington shelfmarks do not correspond with the Beals numbers in de Ricci (in fact, I didn’t realize until this morning that there were so many Beals manuscripts at U. Washington, so I will update the Directory accordingly). For example, de Ricci’s Beals 31 is now U. Washington Beals 20. Here’s a partial concordance of Census-Beals and U. Washington-Beals shelfmarks:

de Ricci Beals concordance

It’s worth noting that the University also owns at least one medieval codex, an interesting collection of humanistic texts.

We’re going to get to know Interstate 5 very well over the next few weeks as we make our way south from Seattle to Los Angeles. All of our stops in Oregon are right off the highway, beginning with Portland. Portland State University’s Professor Anne McClanan has worked with her students to put together a very thorough and useful resource for medieval artifacts in the Portland area, including a database of manuscripts in several collections. Willamette University in Salem has digitized their Book of Hours here, while Oregon State University in Corvallis provides a handlist that combines printed and manuscript leaves. At OSU you will also find an online exhibit tracing the history of book arts. The University of Oregon in Eugene provides a handlist of their manuscripts, some of which have been digitized.

Mt. Angel Abbey, St. Benedict, Oregon

Mt. Angel Abbey, St. Benedict, Oregon

Finally (those of you from Oregon will probably notice that I’m not actually going in order from north to south, but humor me, please), we’ll visit the Benedictine monks at Mt. Angel Abbey in the town of St. Benedict. Like the monks we visited at St. John’s in Minnesota, the monks of Mt. Angel have always taken a great interest in their patrimony. They’ve been working for some time on a digitization project for the medieval manuscripts in their collection. The ongoing project is online here, where you will find links to PDFs of the manuscripts. These are large files and may take some time to open, but be patient, the payoff is worth the wait!

The Adoration of the Magi (N. France, ca. 1525) (Mt. Angel Abbey, MS0029, f. 60)

The Adoration of the Magi (N. France, ca. 1525) (Mt. Angel Abbey, MS 29, f. 60)

MS 29 (illustrated at left) is a particular beauty. This early sixteenth-century Book of Hours is almost certainly that sold at Sotheby’s from the collection of Sir John Northwick in 1928 (sold 21 May 1925, lot 25; Schoenberg database record 23437). The manuscript was sold by Sotheby’s again on 3 December 1951 (lot 23).

Mt. Angel MS 30 is also of interest because it includes several donor portraits. It was not uncommon for the wealthy patrons who commissioned a Book of Hours to have themselves inserted into the miniatures as prayerful observers. In this Book of Hours, written for the use of Rouen in the late fifteenth century, the donors appear twice. First, we encounter the husband and wife in the lower margin (somewhat damaged, unfortunately) of the opening miniature of Matins, with their coats of arms between them:

Matins, Hours of the Virgin (Mt. Angel Abbey, MS0030, f. 13)

Matins, Hours of the Virgin (Mt. Angel Abbey, MS 30, f. 13)

This is a rather odd illustration of the Annunciation, as it includes several extra – unidentified – characters.

The donors appear again on folio 135 in the miniature of the Crucifixion that opens a French meditation:

The Crucifixion (Mt. Angel Abbey, MS 0030, f. 135)

The Crucifixion (Mt. Angel Abbey, MS  30, f. 135)

In this miniature, the Lady kneels at the left of the scene while the Gentleman kneels in the margin wearing armor covered with his Coat of Arms, the same arms seen in the lower margin of folio 13.

These arms are as yet unidentified.

I’ll spend the next few weeks virtually exploring manuscripts in California; there are a lot of them, and it’s going to take at least two posts. So keep going south on I-5 and I’ll meet you in Sacramento.


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5 responses to “Manuscript Road Trip: The Pacific at Last

  1. Anne

    There’s also a small collection of leaves at Central Washington University’s Library in Ellensburg, WA:
    Small but interesting collection of mostly Otto Ege leaves.

  2. Anne

    OSU also has a lovely (yet badly cataloged) 13th century Bible, sadly not yet digitized:

  3. William Diebold

    Reed College also owns a number of medieval manuscripts. Two richly illustrated ones (Paris, c. 1500), and a mid-19th-century English Christmas Mass have been fully photographed and are available from the Reed Digital Collections website. We also own two early modern antiphonaries and a leaf by the Spanish Forger.

  4. It’s Mt. Rainier (not Ranier) near Seattle — thanks so much for this road trip!

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