[northern Netherlands, ?Ijssel Region, c.1445]118 x 80mm. i + 216 + i leaves: 18, 26, 3-268, 2710, COMPLETE,18 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 19 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 76 x 49mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials alternately in red and blue, two-line initials alternately in red flourished in purple and blue flourished in red, one three-line initial in blue with reserved pattern flourished in red and green, TEN LARGE INITIALS IN BURNISHED GOLD on grounds of deep red and blue patterned with white flowers and foliage, leading to borders of leaves in burnished gold or green with blue and red flowers, eight with burnished gold bars (trimmed into some borders, offsetting from borders, small stain to margin of final folios). 16th-century brown calf stamped with panels of Christ on the Cross, the Brazen Serpent and the Resurrection (rejointed, clasps and catches modern).

1. The Calendar includes in red the major Dominican feasts of Sts Thomas Aquinas (trans. 28 January, 7 March), Peter Martyr (29 April, trans. 8 May), Dominic (trans. 24 May, 5 August with octave); in black is St Scolastica (10 February) and Dominican anniversaries for parents (4 Februaury), associates and benefactors (5 September) and those buried in the Order's cemeteries (7 July). In the Litany, which follows Dominican ordering, Peter Martyr, Dominic (twice) and Thomas Aquinas are invoked, as they are on f.214 as intercessors in prayers. The absence of the Dominicans St Vincent Ferrer and St Catherine of Siena, canonised in 1455 and 1461 respectively suggests a date not later than the mid-century. The Dominicans did not encourage local liturgical variants but the diocese of Utrecht is indicated by the presence in the Calendar of Willibrord in red (7 November); the feasts of Sts Pancras and Servatius (12 and 13 May) are specified as festum patre, both were celebrated in the diocese of Utrecht. The decoration uses many motifs developed in Utrecht but the overall effect suggest an origin in the Ijssel region from similarities to manuscripts formerly associated with Agnietenberg, the Augustinian house outside Zwolle (see H. Defoer et al., The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting, 1989, pp.75-8). There was a Dominican house at Zutphen, founded 1295; the Zwolle convent was only founded in the 1460s. The scribal corrections suggest a non-professional, perhaps writing for his own use.

2. Elizabeth van Schonauwen: 16th-century inscription Dit boeck hoort toe Joffrauw Elizabeht [sic] van Schoonauwen on verso of first leaf. The lordship of Schonauwen lies to the south of Utrecht, with the castle of Schonauwen now on the edges of Houten. If the owner of the Psalter was of the family of the Lords of Schonauwen, possible candidates are Elizabeth Willems van Culemborg, wife of Joost van Baarn, Heer van Schonauwen (1521-1551), or their daughter Elizabeth.

3. Lt. Col. Sir William Thomlinson D.L., sold Sotheby's, 21 February 1938, lot 513.

4. Philips Josef van Alfen (1894-1969): his gilt stamped book plate inside upper cover; his sale Sotheby's, 12 July 1971, lot 81, cutting from catalogue pasted to verso of last leaf.

Ruled blank f.1; added prayers f.1v; Dominican Calendar ff.2-13; ruled blank f.14; liturgical Psalter, with canticles and Athanasian Creed ff.15-209v; Litany and prayers ff.209v-216.

A ferial Psalter presents the psalms with their accompanying, unchanging texts for the divine office throughout the day. The large initials with bars mark the psalms for Matins on each day of the week and for Sunday vespers. The two initials without bars mark psalms 51 and 101, a relic of the old division of the Psalter into three sections of 50 psalms each.

The attractively illuminated borders, with their mix of green and burnished gold leaves, relate to work produced in Utrecht c.1430-1440, by illuminators associated with the Dutch History Bibles, including the Masters of Otto van Moerdrecht. The layout, with a bar linked to the initial, and the finely painted white decoration within the initial can be paralleled in manuscripts with miniatures by the Master of Catherine of Cleves, also based in Utrecht. The deeper colours, the bolder forms, including the isolated coloured quatrefoils, and the stiffer arrangement relate more to manuscripts of the Ijssel region. The date before 1455 indicated by the Calendar is consistent with the placing of the bars, which in the second half of the century often lost their connection with the initial and moved to the outer margins of rectos. The limited pen flourishing has some characteristics of the Ijssel region but might indicate a scribe trained elsewhere (see A. Korteweg, Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen, 1992, pp.116-29).

The large initials and borders are on ff.16, 41, 57, 71v, 72v, 89, 109v, 128v, 131, 149.

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Annegret Pettigrew
Annegret Pettigrew

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