HUBERT DE ROMANIS. Life of St Dominic: THOMAS AGNI DE LENTINO. Life of St Peter Martyr: WILLIAM DE TOCCO. Life of St Thomas Aquinas: Life of Blessed James Salomone of Venice with authorisations for the celebration of feasts of Sts Dominic, Peter Martyr and Thomas Aquinas, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Venice, 14th Century]
389 x 250 mm. 120 leaves: 1-28, 34, 4-68, 77(i a singleton), 8-148, 153, 1610, apparently COMPLETE, horizontal catchwords in centre lower margin on final versos, some decorated in blue and red, two columns of 28-31 lines in black ink written in five gothic bookhands between four verticals and 29-32 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: between 238 x 179mm and 270 x 190 mm, some prickings, addition to text in lower margins ff.5v-6, rubrics in red with guide texts surviving in margins ff.1-13, text capitals touched yellow, two-line initials alternately in red and blue and from f.22 in red flourished with blue or violet and in blue flourished with red, from f.111 four- or three-line initials in blue flourished with red or in red flourished with green, FOUR LARGE FLOURISHED INITIALS four- to nine-lines high with staves of red and blue with red, blue and purple penwork, on f.93 the initial flanked by four lines of display text touched with red on a chequer of blue and green patterns, green and red foliage branches in the margin inhabited by blue and red animals (wormholes through ff.1-8, upper right corners replaced ff.21-44, holes in upper margin ff.58, 67, hole burnt through ff.115-120, water staining to bottom of leaves, some folios very worn). Modern limp vellum.
1. Dominican Convent of SS Giovanni e Paolo, Venice: by the late 15th century their library was of sufficient importance to be the intended recipient of Cardinal Bessarion's collection of Greek and Latin texts. Catalogues were published between 1770-1784, in which this volume is cod.574 with comment on the texts (D.M. Berardelli, Nuova Raccolta d'Opuscoli scientifici e filologici, t.32-3, 35, 37-40, 1770, 1778-80, 1782-4, t.39, p.54). At least seventeen of their manuscripts have been identified (T. Kaeppeli, 'Antiche biblioteche domenicane in Italia', Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum, XXXVI, 1966, pp.5-80, pp.70-72). The Convent was suppressed by the Napoleonic regime in the first decade of the 19th century.
2. Baron Charles Alexander de Cosson (b.1846): his armorial bookplate inside upper cover, note on first paper leaf recording the provenance from SS Giovanni e Paolo and purchase in 1876, together with four other manuscripts with the same binding from the same source - see also lots 27 and 78. Of an émigré family from Guyenne, baron de Cosson was an explorer in Egypt and Abyssinia, archaeologist and antiquary. He had a collection of arms and armour in his house in Chertsey and in 1880 organised an exhibition of arms of armour with William Burges.
3. Baron Claude Augustin de Cosson, his eldest son (b.1877): who pursued a career in the Egyptian service before retiring to Florence. Lot 29, Sotheby's, 27 March 1950, Property of the late Baron C.A. de Cosson by whom they were purchased in Italy, excerpt from catalogue pasted on first paper leaf; William Foyle also purchased a book of hours from the Cosson Collection, see lot 50.
Life of St Dominic by Humbert de Romanis ff.1-20; life, ff.21-44, and miracles, ff.45-51 of St Peter Martyr by Thomas Agni de Lentino; life and miracles of St Thomas Aquinas by William de Tocco ff.52-91; anonymous life of Blessed James Salomone ff.92-110; Gregory IX's approval of the feast of St Dominic (1234) ff.111-112; Alexander IV's approval of the feast universally (1255) ff.112r&v; Innnocent IV's approval of the feast of St Peter Martyr (1253) ff.112v-115 and to be written in calendar (1254) ff.115-116; Alexander IV enjoins celebrating the feasts of both saints on the Cistercian order (1255) f.116, and Clement IV on the Portuguese church (1266) f.116r&v; John XXII canonises Thomas Aquinas (1323) ff.116-120v
Humbert de Romanis (c.1200-1277) was the author of many influential sermons as well as what became one of the standard lives of his Order's founder (published by A. Walz, Monumenta Ordinis Fratrum Predicatorum Historia, XVI); Thomas Agni de Lentino (d.1277), first prior of S. Domenico, Naples, wrote what became a standard account of Peter Martyr (published Acta Sanctorum, under 3 April); Gullielmo de Tocco (d. by 1323) wrote the account of St Thomas Aquinas, his only known work, as part of the process for canonisation, for which he was the official promoter (published Acta Sanctorum, under 1 March); the anonymous life of James Salomone appears in the Acta Sanctorum under 31 May ((T. Kaeppeli and E. Panelli, Scriptori Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevi). Salomone was born in Venice in 1231, joined the Dominican convent of S. Maria Celeste in 1248, became subprior at Forlì, Faenza, Sanseverino and Ravenna and died in 1314. His cult was only officially approved in 1526 after he had continued to work miracles in the fifteenth century, it seems never to have spread far beyond his locality and Order.
The simply decorated Life of St Dominic is on more worn parchment, so that it may have been written first and then supplemented by the other texts. An informal red catchword, f.44v, shows that the life of St Thomas Aquinas was originally intended to follow the life of St Peter Martyr, whose miracles were then interpolated. Since the same scribe seems responsible for both the Miracles of Peter Martyr and the Life of St Thomas Aquinas, the collection seems to have been expanded as texts or resources became available. The scribe of the life of St Peter Martyr left a colophon on f.44v Qui scripsit scribat semper cum Domino vivat. Vivat in celo Vendramus [erased] in nomine felix.. Perhaps Felix Vendramin was a relation of the scribe or had funded the work. A fourth scribe wrote the life of Blessed James Salomone and a fifth added the papal authorisations.
The contents suggest that the compilation was assembled during the fourteenth century for, and perhaps in, a Dominican house in Venice, presumably that of SS Giovanni and Paolo where it formed part of the library in the 1770s. The size of the book and its script suggest that it may have been intended for reading aloud, perhaps in the refectory. The regular scripts are attractively articulated by the numerous rubrics and flourished initials.