Tag Archives: Rhodes College

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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Filed under Medieval Manuscripts, Otto F. Ege