Monthly Archives: May 2014

Manuscript Road Trip: Graceland and Ole Miss

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

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

On the way to New Orleans from Arkansas, I wanted to make a virtual stop at the University of Mississippi. But if this were an actual road trip, we’d drive through Memphis, Tennessee to get to Ole Miss. So as long as we’re “driving” through, we’ll make two stops in Memphis: the Memphis Brooks Art Museum and Rhodes College (we’ll check out other Tennessee collections in a few weeks). As far as I know, there aren’t any medieval manuscripts at Graceland, so we’ll just drive by the gates and pay our respects to Elvis en route.

Graceland

Graceland

working mapThe Memphis Brooks Museum of Art reports holdings of twelve manuscript leaves, although only one seems to be reproduced on their website. The image is low-resolution but is clear enough to identify it as a leaf from a Book of Hours, ca. 1440, preserving the opening of the Office of the Dead. With thanks to Marilyn Massler, the Museum’s Associate Registrar, I am able to share two images with you that she kindly sent to me:  Acq. 56.27 (the Book of Hours linked above) and Acq. 56.30 (a calendar leaf from a Book of Hours).

French; Latin text LEAF FROM A BOOK OF HOURS, SERVICE FOR THE DEAD, ca. 1450 Ink and gilt Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis TN; Brooks Memorial Art Gallery Purchase 56.27

French; Latin text
LEAF FROM A BOOK OF HOURS, SERVICE FOR THE DEAD, ca. 1450
Ink and gilt
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis TN; Brooks Memorial Art Gallery Purchase 56.27

 

French; Latin text LEAF FROM A BOOK OF HOURS, OCTOBER CALENDER, ca. 1450 Ink and gilt Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN; Brooks Memorial Art Gallery Purchase, 56.30

French; Latin text
LEAF FROM A BOOK OF HOURS, OCTOBER CALENDER, ca. 1450
Ink and gilt
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN; Brooks Memorial Art Gallery Purchase, 56.30

In Otto Ege’s Manuscripts, Scott Gwara identifies some of the Museum’s leaves as having an Ege provenance: see Gwara, Handlist 21, 31 (this is MBMA 56.27), 46 (this is 56.30), 69 and 74.

At Rhodes College, the Hanson Collection of Leaves from Books and Manuscripts has been completely digitized (but not catalogued) here. These are all Ege leaves, mostly from two portfolios (Hanson Collection 1 is from Original Leaves from Famous Bibles: Nine centuries, 1121-1935 A.D.  and Hanson Collection 2 is Original Leaves from Famous Books: Eight Centuries, 1240 A.D. – 1923 A.D.).

Livy, History of Rome, explicit with colophon and date (Rhodes College, Ege Famous Books, Leaf 3v)

Livy, History of Rome, explicit with colophon and date (Rhodes College, Ege Famous Books, Leaf 3v)

Remarkably, the Rhodes leaf from a well-known Ege copy of Livy’s History of Rome (not the Livy in the Fifty Original Leaves portfolio, however) happens to be the final leaf of the manuscript and includes a colophon recording the manuscript’s date of completion, 21 September 1456 (Gwara, Handlist 52). Ege’s description of the manuscript gives the date as 1436, a misreading of the colophon. Once Ege had dismembered the manuscript and scattered its leaves, that mis-information continued to be attached to the leaves via the letterpress label Ege adhered to each matte; leaves from this manuscript are therefore usually catalogued with the incorrect date (for example, here, here, and here). Let this be a cautionary tale: metadata, even bad metadata, is sticky and can hang around unquestioned for decades. Ege Livy label

 

Rhodes College, Hanson Collection 3, no. 25

Rhodes College, Hanson Collection 3, no. 25

Among the miscellaneous Ege leaves in Hanson Collection 3 are two leaves of our old friend the Beauvais Missal (No. 6 and No. 7) and a leaf from a Book of Hours in Dutch (at right).

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 7, f. 4

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 7, f. 4

The are ten leaves in the Priscian Fragment Collection in the Archives and Special Collections department at Ole Miss (a.k.a. the University of Mississippi, in Oxford). These have also been digitized and can be found here. Among these are four bifolia from a very nice thirteenth-century manuscript of Donatus’ grammar handbook (below) and a leaf of an early-fifteenth-century Book of Hours with really exquisite and ornate rinceaux in the margins (below).

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 10v

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 10v

It should not surprise you to find several Ege leaves in this collection as well: no. 5 is FOL 39 (Gwara Handlist 39, the other Livy), and no. 6 is FOL 1 (Gwara Handlist 1, a glossed twelfth-century Bible). The highlights for me, though, and almost certainly the oldest bits of parchment in the state, are three tenth-century fragments from three different manuscripts of  Priscian’s Grammar:

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 2

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 2

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 1

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 1

Ole Miss Priscian 3

Univ. of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections, Priscian Collection, no. 3

These three fragments, the founding pieces of the Priscian Collection, were once owned by Ernst Joseph Alexander Seyfert (1745-1832), a scholar who studied the history of grammar education, a topic in which Priscian and Donatus figure quite prominently.

Road trips are about the journey, not the destination, and are by definition prone to detours and side trips. Next week, I promise we’ll reach New Orleans!

 

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Manuscript Road Trip: Heading South

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

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

working mapI apologize for my prolonged absence; the real world has kept me busy (Kalamazoo, anyone?). But now I’m back on the virtual road, heading south out of Missouri into Arkansas.

Medieval manuscripts in the Southeastern United States may seem to be few and far between, but thanks to the regional sleuthing of University of South Carolina professor Scott Gwara and others, more collections (mostly of single leaves) come to light regularly.

Between de Ricci’s 1938 Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada and Faye & Bond’s 1963 Supplement, however, there was only one collection in the state of Arkansas, the now-defunct private collection of Fred Allsopp in Little Rock (Census I:3). According to the Census, Allsopp owned three codices, here called MS 1, MS 2 and MS 3. MS 2, a fifteenth-century monastic missal from the Tyrol region of Austria, is untraced. Allsopp MS 3, a small Book of Hours, was sold by Parke-Bernet in 1947 with the other Allsopp manuscripts and was purchased by Hannah Rabinowitz of Sand Point, NY (Supplement p. 413, no. 2). It has come on the market several times since then (in 1976 and 1998), but its current location is unknown.

Ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey, Dorset

Ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey, Dorset

Allsopp MS 1 turns out to be a Book of Hours, not a breviary as titled by de Ricci, a not unimportant distinction that identifies the manuscript as a book for personal devotion rather than communal prayer. Evidence within the manuscript identifies two early owners: Elizabeth Shelford, Abbess of the Benedictine abbey of Shaftesbury (d. before 1529) is thought to have been the original owner of the manuscript; another nun of Shaftesbury, Alice Champnys, owned the manuscript next and recorded her acquisition of the manuscript on f. 132v:

“Iste liber pertinent domine Aliciae Champnys moniali monasterij Shasonie quem dicta Alicia emit pro summa Decem solidorum de domino Richardo de Marshalle Rectore ecclesie parochialis sancti Rumbaldi de Shastina predicta.”

[This book belongs to Lady Alice Champnys, nun of the monastery of Shaftesbury. Alice bought it for the sum of ten shillings from Master Richard Marshall, rector of the parochial church of St Rumbold in the aforesaid Shaftesbury.] (see Julian M. Luxford, The Art and Architecture of English Benedictine Monasteries, 1300 – 1540 (Woodbridge, 2005), p. 5).

The manuscript, which includes numerous references to female British saints such as Aelfgyfa and Edith, is a fascinating and oft-cited example of a prayerbook made for the use of a woman (see, for example, Women’s Books of Hours in Medieval England by Charity Scott-Stokes, where this manuscript is cited on pp. 21 and 156; Elizabeth News’ essay, “Symbols of Devotion and Identity in a Late Medieval Manuscript: Fitzwilliam Museum MS 2-1957,” in J. Cherry & A. Payne eds., Signs and Symbols. Harlaxton Medieval Studies XVIII (Stamford, 2009), 73-84; Ker’s Medieval Libraries, p. 177; and Wormald and Giles’ A descriptive catalogue of the additional illuminated manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum, II:516-21, among other references).

Little is known of the manuscript’s history after it left Alice’s hands until it resurfaced in the mid-nineteenth century in the collection of one Henry Walter of Windsor. A label inside the cover of the manuscript next places it in the hands of a London bookseller named J. Leslie. It was bought before March 1931 in Bournemouth by Missouri’s own Frank Glenn, the Kansas City dealer we encountered last week (the one who put together the travelling manuscript exhibit). Glenn must have sold it to Allsopp before 1938, when the Census was published. Sold with the other Allsopp manuscripts by Parke-Bernet (New York) in 1947, the manuscript was purchased later that year from the Boston bookshop Goodspeed’s by the great collector Philip Hofer (whose label is also inside the front cover), who placed it on deposit at Harvard University’s Houghton Library where it had the shelfmark MS Typ 102H. In 1957, Hofer gave the manuscript to the Fitzwilliam Museum of Art at Cambridge University, where it is MS 2-1957, thus sending it back across the Atlantic to return to its country of origin.

In case you lost track, here’s the manuscript’s dizzying journey from the early sixteenth century to today: Shaftesbury -> Windsor -> London -> Bournemouth -> Missouri -> Arkansas -> New York -> Massachusetts -> Cambridge. A long, strange trip indeed.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any public domain images of this manuscript available for me to share with you; the spectacular  Fitzwilliam collection is in the process of digitization, but this one hasn’t been put online yet.

But enough about manuscripts that AREN’T in Arkansas anymore. Let’s talk about manuscripts that ARE.

The gap left by the 1947 dispersal of the Allsopp collection is beginning to be filled by the collection of leaves recently acquired by the University of Arkansas Special Collections Department. My thanks to U. Arkansas English professor Joshua Byron Smith for this selection of images from the group, leaves that together represent a teaching collection that will greatly benefit the University’s students:

Calendar leaf for April from a mid-15th-century Book of Hours, with extensive annotations by members of the Dumesnil family.

f. 1r: Calendar leaf for April from a mid-15th-century Book of Hours, with extensive annotations by members of the Dumesnil family.

Ferial Psalter from southern England

f. 2r: Ferial Psalter from southern England

Gregory the Great, Homilies on Ezekiel, Italy, mid-13th century

f. 3r: Gregory the Great, Homilies on Ezekiel, Italy, mid-13th century

Missal from northern France

f. 4r: Missal from northern France

Calendar leaf from a late-15th-century French book of hours

f. 5r: Calendar leaf from a late-15th-century French book of hours

Leaf from a mid-15th-century Missal from Germany

f. 6r: Leaf from a mid-15th-century Missal from Germany

f. 10a, recto: The Passion according to St. Matthew, from a mid-15th-century Book of Hours

f. 10a, recto: Reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, from a mid-15th-century Book of Hours

 

f. 7r: The Passion of St. Eliphius from a 15th-century manuscript from Germany

f. 7r: The Passion of St. Eliphius from a 15th-century manuscript from Germany

A pencil annotation on no. 7, a partial leaf formerly used as a bookcover, suggests that it once passed through the hands of the great paleographer Bernhard Bischoff, giving this fragment a particularly esteemed provenance.

Next week, we head to one of my favorite U.S. cities, The Big Easy itself. Grab your Mardi Gras beads (just don’t tell me how you got them) and meet me in New Orleans!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Medieval Manuscripts