PSALTER, for Cistercian use, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[north-eastern Italy, possibly Ferrara, final third 15th century]
113 x 84mm. 273 leaves: 18 (of 12, lacking i-iv), 29 (of 10, lacking i), 3 1710, 184, 19 2810, 292 (of 4?, lacking iii and iv),18 lines written in a semi-gothic bookhand in brown ink between two verticals and 19 horizontals ruled in plummet, rubrics in red, catchwords, initials alternately in blue and red, two line initials in red with lilac penwork flourishing extending into margins and in blue with similar flourishing in red, SEVEN ILLUMINATED INITIALS in purple and blue on grounds of liquid gold with sprays of flowers interspersed with gold discs extending into the margins, one forming a three sided border, one historiated initial with three sided border (lacking January-March in the Calendar, the opening leaf with 'Beatus vir' and perhaps two leaves from the Common of Apostles and Several Martyrs at the end, some staining to pages of the Calendar and final leaf, occasional fading of text, some cropping). 18th century calf gilt, edges gilt (some scuffing and minor cracking to spine).
The decoration and style of the manuscript indicate that it was made in north-eastern Italy, probably Ferrara, in the final third of the 15th century. The inclusion of Cistercian feasts in the Calendar (e.g. Sequanus, 19 Sept.; Magnus, 6 Oct.; Malachi, 4 Nov., in red), and the use of the Office of the Dead indicate that it was made for a Cistercian house, perhaps one dedicated to St Margaret, for the Dedication of St Margaret is entered at 21 May. Perhaps this is Margherita of Cortona (d.1297) rather than the more widely venerated Early Christian martyr Margaret of Antioch.
Calendar ff.1-8v; Psalms 1-150, beginning imperfectly in Psalm 2:3, '[Disrumpamus vincula eorum et proiciamus] a nobis iugum ipsorum' ff.9-159; the six ferial canticles followed by the Athanasian Creed ff.159-171; the Hymnal arranged according to the liturgical year with the Temporale, the Sanctorale, and the Common of Saints ff.172-216v; Office of the Dead, for Cistercian use ff.216v-225; Collects arranged by the liturgical year ff.225-273v.
A delightful little portable Psalter, with each division of the Psalms and the opening of the Office of the Dead marked by a lively illuminated initial in a style typical of the Ferrarese school.