PROCESSIONAL, for the use of the Dominican sisters of St Louis, Poissy, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Paris, second quarter 16th-century]
PROCESSIONAL, for the use of the Dominican sisters of St Louis, Poissy, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Paris, second quarter 16th-century]
PROCESSIONAL, for the use of the Dominican sisters of St Louis, Poissy, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Paris, second quarter 16th-century]
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PROCESSIONAL, for the use of the Dominican sisters of St Louis, Poissy, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Paris, second quarter 16th-century]
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PROCESSIONAL, for the use of the Dominican sisters of St Louis, Poissy, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Paris, second quarter 16th-century]

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PROCESSIONAL, for the use of the Dominican sisters of St Louis, Poissy, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Paris, second quarter 16th-century]

160 x 105mm. iii + 166 leaves, APPARENTLY COMPLETE , ruled space: 100 x 59mm. ELEVEN SMALL MINIATURES AND TWO HISTORIATED INITIALS, bar borders and full borders throughout, (slightly cropped, some cuts and tears to margins, the pigment and gold occasionally rubbed or darkened); 17th-century red morocco by Le Gascon (slightly worn at hinges and clasps).

PROVENANCE:
(1) Likely made for a sister in the Dominican house at Poissy, founded in 1298 by Philip the Fair and built by 1330: two coats of arms; one quartered argent and gules, and one or with bend sable – each appearing twice in the volume (ff.1, 109v, 117, 124v). After the nuns were expelled in 1793 during the Revolution, the books of the convent were scattered – each nun likely taking her own book. (2) ?In the collection of Parisian bookseller Jacques Techener (1802-1870), or his son, Leon. (3) ALLAN HEYWOOD BRIGHT: ownership inscription, 1896.

CONTENT:
Processional for the Dominican Convent of St Louis at Poissy, opening with prayers to be said before and after communion and the blessing of candles for the Purification of the Virgin and ending with services for the infirm and upon the death of a sister ff.1-165. The processional text includes the cleansing of the altars at Poissy on Maundy Thursday, ff.38-59v, with those dedicated to St Louis and St Denis among those listed.

Produced between c.1320-c.1540, the processionals used at Poissy – the Dominican convent founded by Philip the Fair in honour of the canonisation of his grandfather, St Louis – contained the chants and prayers to be read or sung by the sisters, most notably the special ceremonies associated with Eastertide. Each of the nuns would have owned her own portable book; these were generally customised with her arms. Since 2004, when 27 such processionals were identified (see J. Naughton, ‘From Unillustrated to Illustrated Book’, Manuscripta, 43/44, 2003, pp.161-188), only four more illuminated examples have come to light.

ILLUMINATION:
The small miniatures and historiated initials would most likely have been painted by a Parisian illuminator, given Poissy’s proximity to the city, who has succeeded in creating characterful figures on a small scale. The vibrant palette and attention to interior detail reflect a distillation of the prevailing trends in Parisian manuscript illumination in the first half of the 16th century. Huglo’s suggestion that the sisters may have had a hand in illuminating their own manuscripts seems less likely here, given the quality of the miniatures (see M. Huglo, 'Les processionaux de Poissy' pp.339-346 in Rituels: mélanges offert à Pierre Marie Gy, P. de Clerck and E. Palazzo eds, 1990). The borders seem to be re-presentations of those seen in earlier books held at Poissy, in a deliberate attempt to bring the illustrious and noble history of the convent to the fore – in other examples, the nuns have cut out and inserted the border decoration from earlier manuscripts. This archaicising tendency is apparent in the repetitive patterns of the full borders – such as the fleur de lis motif used for the feast of St Louis, f.117 – and in the vine tendrils with charmingly-rendered birds and beasts elsewhere. This same style and formatting of borders and miniatures can be seen in another 16th-century processional held at the Free Library of Philadelphia (MS Lewis E7).

The subjects of the panel miniatures and historiated initials are as follows: Mass of St Gregory f.1; Presentation in the Temple f. 13; Resurrection f.97; Ascension f.99; Corpus Christi f.102v; St Dominic f.109v; Assumption of the Virgin f.112v; St Louis f.117; Nativity of the Virgin f.121; St Ursula f. 124v; St Nicholas f. 126; St Catharine f.131; St Sebastian f.141. St Nicholas and St Sebastian are historiated initials.


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