Monthly Archives: December 2014

Manuscript Road Trip: Manuscripts in Manhattan

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

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

There are so many reasons to love New York City. Broadway, Central Park, Ellis Island, MOMA, Zabar’s, H&H…the list goes on and on. And for bibliophiles? New York is Heaven on Earth.  At last count, New York City was home to nearly 9,000 pre-1600 manuscripts in twenty-four collections, ranging from Washington Square all the way up to Ft. Tryon Park. These collections – among which are The Hispanic Society of America, the Livingston Masonic Library, the Museum of Biblical Art, and the Jewish Theological Seminary – are as diverse as the city they inhabit. While nothing beats wandering from collection to collection during Bibliography Week, you don’t actually have to go to Manhattan to see some of its greatest treasures. Many of these collections have a strong digital presence.

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“Freedom Tower with Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty” (photo by Michael Maddaloni)

I’ve created a custom map to accompany this post, shown below and available online here. The metadata associated with each pin includes both literal and virtual addresses, so you can use this map to create your very own manuscript road trip around Manhattan. More information about all of these collections (as well as defunct collections recorded in the Census and Supplement) is available in the online Directory of Collections in the United States and Canada with Pre-1600 Manuscript Holdings (pp. 81 – 96).

NYC final

Manuscripts in Manhattan

The best place to start when looking for digitized New York manuscripts is the online repository Digital Scriptorium. From the “Browse by Location” page, you can easily link to images from more than half of the NYC collections:

City College of New York

Columbia University, Law Library

Columbia University, Health Sciences Library

Columbia University, Barnard College Library

Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary Library

Columbia University, Music and Arts Library

Columbia University, Teachers College

Columbia University, Rare Books and Special Collections

Fordham University

Leaf from the pontifical made for Charles-Orland, son of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne (Fordham University, Walsh Library, Archives and Special Collections, MS Item 05, ca. 1495). The remainder of the volume was later owned by Estelle Doheny (Faye and Bond, Supplement, p. 12 n. 42), then sold with her collection at  Christie's, London, 2 Dec. 1987, lot 172, to   Tenschert.

Leaf from the pontifical made for Charles-Orland, son of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne (Fordham University, Walsh Library, Archives and Special Collections, MS Item 05, ca. 1495). The remainder of the volume was later owned by Estelle Doheny (Faye and Bond, Supplement, p. 12 n. 42), then sold with her collection at Christie’s, London, 2 Dec. 1987, lot 172, to Tenschert.

General Theological Seminary

The Grolier Club

Jewish Theological Seminary

New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives

New York Public Library, Spencer Collection

New York University, Bobst Library Special Collections

With so many great collections to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin. Fortunately, the Digital Scriptorium “Advanced Search” page allows you to narrow your search by keywords, title, author, date range, or any number of other fields.

A few other New York collections deserve special note.

"Mr. Morgan's Library"

“Mr. Morgan’s Library”

The Morgan Library and Museum houses one of the greatest manuscript collections in the country. Like Henry Walters, Henry Huntington, and other collectors we’ve met on our virtual journey across the country, Pierpont Morgan was a man of extraordinary wealth who was also an important and avid art collector. This from the Library’s website: “Mr. Morgan’s library, as it was known in his lifetime, was built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. Designed by Charles McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the library was intended as something more than a repository of rare materials. Majestic in appearance yet intimate in scale, the structure was to reflect the nature and stature of its holdings. The result was an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo with three magnificent rooms epitomizing America’s Age of Elegance. Completed three years before McKim’s death, it is considered by many to be his masterpiece. In 1924, eleven years after Pierpont Morgan’s death, his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867–1943), known as Jack, realized that the library had become too important to remain in private hands. In what constituted one of the most momentous cultural gifts in U.S. history, he fulfilled his father’s dream of making the library and its treasures available to scholars and the public alike by transforming it into a public institution.” We encountered J. P. Morgan’s librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, in this blogpost a few months ago; it was she who was responsible for identifying the characteristics of forgeries perpetrated by The Spanish Forger, whom she also named.

Hellmouth (left) and Burial (right) (Hours of Catherine of Cleves, a.k.a. MS M.945 (Utrecht, ca. 1440), ff. 168v/169)

Hellmouth (left) and Burial (right) (Hours of Catherine of Cleves, a.k.a. MS M.945 (Utrecht, ca. 1440), ff. 168v/169)

Thousands of images from Morgan manuscripts are available in the CORSAIR database, including one of my personal favorites, the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. Every page of this glorious book is full of surprises and can be viewed in stunning high-resolution on the Library’s website.

Another Morgan masterpiece is The Black Hours, written in luminous silver and gold ink on black-stained parchment:

The Virgin and Child (The Black Hours, a.k.a. MS M. 493, ff. 22v-23)

The Virgin and Child (The Black Hours, a.k.a. MS M. 493, ff. 22v-23)

A few blocks uptown from The Morgan is The New York Public Library, the largest municipal manuscript collection in the country.

NYPL General Research Division, Rose Main Reading Room

NYPL General Research Division, Rose Main Reading Room

NYPL houses more than 500 manuscripts in three collections: The Manuscripts and Archives Division, The Spencer Collection, and the Dorot Jewish Division. One hundred masterpieces from the NYPL collection were the subject of a magnificent exhibit in 2005, The Splendor of the Word, curated by Jonathan J. G. Alexander, James H. Marrow, and Lucy Freeman Sandler, with two dozen additional experts contributing to the catalogue. Highlights from the show included:

Fool Playing the Pipes (The Wingfield Hours and Psalter, this section England, ca. 1470) (NYPL Spencer MS 3, pt. II, f. 38)

Fool Playing the Pipes (The Wingfield Hours and Psalter, this section England, ca. 1470) (NYPL Spencer MS 3, pt. II, f. 38)

NYPL Spencer MS 26 6v

The Tree of Jesse (Tickhill Psalter, England, ca. 1303-1314) (NYPL Spencer MS 26, f. 6v)

The Annunciation (Book of Hours, France (Bourges) ca. 1505-1510) (NYPL Spencer MS 6, ff. 32v/33)

The Annunciation (Book of Hours, France (Bourges) ca. 1505-1510) (NYPL Spencer MS 6, ff. 32v/33)

The Nativity (Lectionary, Padua, ca. 1501-1511, illuminated by Antonio Maria da Villafora and another Paduan master, written by the great humanist Bartolomeo Sanvito) (NYPL Spencer MS 7, f. 1v)

The Nativity (Lectionary, Padua, ca. 1501-1511, illuminated by Antonio Maria da Villafora and another Paduan master, written by the great humanist Bartolomeo Sanvito) (NYPL Spencer MS 7, f. 1v)

From the Public Library, head north on 5th Avenue to the Upper East Side and the imposing Metropolitan Museum of Art. There’s plenty of medieval art on display, and even more to be found on the website.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Gallery 305

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gallery 305

Scenes from the Life of St. John the Baptist (Book of Hours, Bruges, ca. 1515) (Metropolitan Museum,  Bequest of George D. Pratt, 1935, acc. 48.149.16)

Scenes from the Life of St. John the Baptist (Book of Hours, Bruges, ca. 1515) (Metropolitan Museum, Bequest of George D. Pratt, 1935, acc. 48.149.16)

A collections keyword search for “manuscripts and illuminations” results in more than 300 images from dozens of manuscripts, some of which, like the gorgeous cutting from a late twelfth-century French Bible shown below, are actually housed at our next, and last, stop.

Cutting from a twelfth-century Bible (The Cloisters, acc. 1999.364.1)

Cutting from a twelfth-century Bible (The Cloisters, acc. 1999.364.1)

The Cloisters, in Ft. Tryon Park at the northern end of Manhattan, houses a large part of the Met’s medieval collection. Here, in this museum assembled from architectural elements of at least four different medieval structures, you can immerse yourself in the Middle Ages, viewing sculpture, paintings, furniture, metalwork, glass, jewelry, the famed Unicorn Tapestries, and, of course, manuscripts.

The Unicorn in Captivity

The Unicorn in Captivity (from The Unicorn Tapestries, The Cloisters)

Among the manuscripts on permanent exhibit at The Cloisters is one of the great masterpieces of the fifteenth century, the Belles Heures of Jean, Duc de Berry, illuminated by the Limbourg Brothers around 1405. More than 140 images of this manuscript are available on the museum’s website and are described in detail on pages devoted to a 2010 exhibition, The Art of Illumination. The manuscript is copiously illustrated and includes many unusual images, such as this full-page miniature of St. Katherine in her study:

The Belles Heures, f. 15

The Belles Heures, f. 15 (The Cloisters Collection, 1954, Acc. 54.1.1a, b)

The Cloisters

The Cloisters

Looks like we’ll be celebrating the New Year in New Haven. See you in Connecticut!

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Manuscript Road Trip: The Jersey Turnpike

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

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

Remember last time when I said we’d go to the Jersey Shore? I lied. There are no medieval manuscripts on the Jersey Shore. If you’re a Bruce Springsteen fan, I highly recommend a visit to Asbury Park. But if you want manuscripts? Stay on the New Jersey Turnpike, the well-travelled and beloved thoroughfare that runs up the middle of the state. It just wouldn’t be a roadtrip without it.

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We’ll start by getting off at Exit 8 and heading west into Princeton, where we will find one of the largest collections of medieval manuscripts in the U.S. at Princeton University. According to their website, the Manuscripts Division of the Rare Book and Special Collections Library holds “172 [medieval and Renaissance manuscripts] in the Robert Garrett Collection, 58 in the Grenville Kane Collection, 19 in the Robert Taylor Collection, and 201 in the growing Princeton Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. In addition, there are a number of manuscripts in the Cotsen Library, other manuscripts in other manuscript series or bound with printed books; more than 250 separate miniatures, leaves, and cuttings; and about 100 manuscripts in the Scheide Library.” (the Scheide Library is a private collection housed on the Princeton campus; the collector, William H. Scheide, passed away in November 2014)

Le roman de la rose (Garrett MS. 126, f. 1) (Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library)

Le roman de la rose (Garrett MS. 126, f. 1) (Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library)

Curator Don Skemer’s detailed and gorgeous catalogue of the Princeton collection reminds us why print catalogues are still worth publishing, especially when augmented by a significant online presence. Many of these manuscripts have been at least partially digitized, with images and metadata available through the Index of  Christian Art and ARTstor (both paywalled, but many major research libraries are subscribers to one or the other). If you don’t have access to either of these subscription databases, you can find links to a growing collection of digitized manuscripts in Princeton’s Digital Library. Best of all (and here I may be accused of burying the lead), the Checklist of Western Medieval, Byzantine, and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library and the Scheide Library includes links to thousands of images.

Princeton Univ. MS 51, f. 61 (Lambach, s. XII 3/4) (Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library)

Charlemagne and Alcuin, drawn by Gottschalk of Lambach (Princeton Univ. MS 51, f. 61 (Lambach, s. XII 3/4), Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library)

The miniature below, from Garrett MS. 48, struck me not only because of the elaborate diapered backgrounds in each of the four miniatures but in particular because of the lovely image in the lower margin of Christ learning to walk, toddling towards his mother’s outstretched arms (detail below).

Book of Hours, Use of Paris, ca. 1420–1430, France (Paris) (Garrett MS. 48, f. 1) (Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library)

Book of Hours, Use of Paris, ca. 1420–1430, France (Paris) (Garrett MS. 48, f. 1) (Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library)

Garrett MS. 48, f. 1 (detail, lower margin)

Garrett MS. 48, f. 1 (detail, lower margin)

Here are a few other highlights:

Garrett MS. 125 (Chrétien de Troyes, Le chevalier au lion and other French texts) (NW France, s. XIIIex)

Garrett MS. 158 (Giovanni Marcanova [ Collectio antiquitatum ]) (Italy (probably Bologna), 1471 (?) or after 1473)

Garrett MS. 43 (Benedictional written in late Carolingian minuscule and illuminated, probably at Lorsch Abbey, in the second quarter of the eleventh century)

Garrett MS. 126  (Le Roman de la rose, Paris, mid-14th century)

Keep an eye on Don Skemer’s blog for additional information about the collection. Manuscripts are held by other collections in Princeton, including the Princeton Theological Seminary (an institution independent of the University which holds, among other items, several examples of Oxyrhynchus papyri) and the Princeton University Art Museum (which holds, among other items, one of the scrolls edited in my forthcoming book). An Advanced Search in the Museum collection for “Classification = Manuscripts” and “Department = Prints and Drawings” will bring up most of the manuscripts and cuttings.

East to the beach or West to the manuscripts? Decisions, decisions...

East to the shore or West to the manuscripts? Decisions, decisions…

Now it’s back to the Turnpike, continuing north to Exit 9. If you need a beach break, turn right and go through East Brunswick towards Asbury Park. If you want some more manuscripts, turn westward and stop off at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

Rutgers University is home to several dozen leaves from manuscripts dismembered by our old friend Otto Ege. These leaves were the inspiration for one of the first, and still seminal, studies of Ege and his biblioclastic ways, Barbara Shailor’s “Otto Ege: his manuscript fragment collection and the opportunities presented by electronic technology” in The Book as Art, Literature and History (New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers Universities Libraries, c2003), available online here. The manuscripts are all accessible on Digital Scriptorium.

Beauvais Missal (Rutgers Univ., Special Collections, ND3375.F889, verso)

Beauvais Missal (Rutgers Univ., Special Collections, ND3375.F889, verso)

Just 1.5 miles up George St. is the New Brunswick Theological Seminary.  Among the printed books in the Gardner A. Sage library is a three-volume hybrid set of the works of St. Ambrose, the first (and probably the second) volume from 1516. The third volume is an incunable printed in Basel by Johann Amerbach in 1492. Conservation of the books yielded three binding fragments, since removed and housed separately. The first was from Giraldus Cremonensis’ Latin translation of Aristotle’s Meteora (Book II). The second volume contained a scrap of an Old French translation of the Book of Judges (20:23 – 21:7) and the third volume around 200 lines of a unique Old French Life of St. Andrew.  Both Old French fragments date from the early thirteenth century. For more, see Gerald A. Bertin and Alfred Foulet, “The Acts of Andrew in Old French Verse: The Gardner A. Sage Library Fragment (PMLA 81 (1966), 451-454) and Gerald A. Bertin, “The Book of Judges in Old French prose : the Gardner A. Sage Library fragment” (Romania 90 (1969), 121-131).

Next time, we’ll visit the Big Apple. Take the Turnpike to Exit 18W, cross the Hudson River, and meet me in Manhattan. But you’ll want to make one last stop before you get stuck in Bridge traffic…Screen shot 2014-12-18 at 9.40.25 AM

 

 

 

 

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