FERIAL PSALTER, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
450 x 260mm. 266 leaves: 1-2110, 226, 2310, 249(of 10, lacking ix), 25-2610, 278, 284, 291, vertical catchwords at lower inner margin of final versos, binders signature marks in crayon in lower margins of first half of gatherings, 18 lines written in a round gothic bookhand between two verticals and 36 horizontals, hymns and antiphons with music of square notation on a four-line red stave, justification: 290 x 180mm, rubrics in red, one-line versals and two-line initials alternately of red and blue with flourishing of lilac or red respectively, the two-line initials with staves patterned in reserve, SIXTEEN LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS painted in rich colours and burnished gold and with foliate terminals extending into the margins, TWO FULL-PAGE BORDERS with burnished gold grounds (some rubbing or pigment loss to both borders and eight initials, darkening and spotting to most folios between ff.167 and 192, repairs to lower margins of ff.140, 168-72, 174-180, 183, 185, 187-192). 18th-century diced russia over thick wooden boards (extremities scuffed, scratches on covers and lacking clasps, catches, cornerpieces, bosses and studs from edges).
Hymns to St Prosper (f.237) and Sts Chrysanthus and Daria (249) are included among the major feasts of the Sanctoral. This indicates that the Psalter was made for use in a church in Reggio Emilia, the city where these saints were especially venerated. San Prospero is the city's patron saint and the arca housing the relics of Chrysanthus and Daria is the central feature of the crypt of the Cathedral. In fact this manuscript was one of the choirbooks made for use in the Cathedral. The coat of arms at the foot of the first folio -- gules, two keys saltire argent -- are also found by the miniature of St Martin dividing his cloak in one of two choirbooks from the Cathedral that remain in Reggio Emilia (Biblioteca Panizzi, Ms 17.A.144, folio 225): D. Fava, Emilia e Romagna, Tesori delle biblioteche d'Italia, 1932.
The Psalter was subsequently altered to include a hymn to Saint Martina -- where the saint is invoked to drive away lewd joys. Martina was a Roman virgin martyr whose relics were discovered in the crypt of a dilapidated church near the Mamertine prison in Rome in 1634. The church was rebuilt by Pope Urban VIII who is believed to have composed the hymns sung at the Office on her feast day.
Ferial Psalter ff.1-215v; added hymn on a leaf originally left blank f.216r&v; Hymnal ff.217-266v, for feasts from the Temporal ff.217-232, the Sanctoral ff.232-252 and the Common of Saints ff.252-266.
The decorative components -- attenuated acanthus with trumpet-shaped terminals, masks, dolphins, balusters and vases -- painted in pink, blue and green are comparable to those in Bolognese manuscripts illuminated by Bartolommeo Bassi (fl. 1505-1514): for example the Statutes of the Società della Lana Gentile (Bologna, Bibl. Comunale dell'Archiginnasio, Ms B.1214): Haec sunt Statuta, ed. Massimo Medica, 1999, no 34. The illuminator of the Psalter may well have trained or worked alongside Bassi but his figures are more animated and show a greater confidence in posture and movement.
The historiated initials are as follows: f.2v David harping, with a full-page border; f.31 youthful David; f.43v David pointing to his eye; f.64v David pointing to his mouth; f.81 the Fool; f.98 David naked in the water; f.123 acolyte playing an organ; f.141v choir singing around a lectern; f.178v Trinity, with a full-page border; f.183v Annunciation; f.184 young man lamenting over the corpse of a young woman; f.187v David orans; f.191 man building; f.194 David addressed by God; f.200 David and angels; f.206 David praying.