PSALTER, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Crown of Aragon, second quarter 15th century]
115 x 78mm. 201 vellum + iii paper leaves: 110(of 12, lacking bifolio vi/vii), 28, 37(of 8, lacking iv), 48, 57(of 8, lacking vii), 6-78, 87(of 8, lacking iv), 98, 102(of 8, lacking iii-viii), 112(of 8, lacking i-vi), 12-148, 157(of 8, lacking v), 16-178, 183(of 8, lacking iv-viii), 198, 207(of 8, lacking viii), 218, 227(of 8, lacking iv), 23-268, 277(of 8, lacking viii), 283(of 8, lacking i-v), 292(probably of 8, lacking i-vi), 302, 11 and 12 have been misbound and should precede 21; vertical catchwords in the lower right margin of final versos, 19 lines in brown ink written in a gothic bookhand, two verticals and 19 horizontals ruled in grey, justification: 78 x 43mm, rubrics in pink, two- and three-line initials in gold on grounds of pink and infills of blue with white decoration, with hairline tendrils with terminals of gold-centred blue or pink trefoils or quatrefoils extending into the margins, one-line initials in gold flourished with violet or in blue flourished with red, line-endings in Litany in blue or burnished gold, ONE ILLUMINATED INITIAL with open staves of pink and blue on a gold ground and with pink, blue and green foliate infill, joining full bar of pink, blue and gold, with FULL-PAGE BORDER of stems of acanthus, fruit and flowers in pink, blue, green and liquid gold, with hairline tendrils with foliate terminals in pink, green, blue and burnished gold, incorporating animals, birds and grotesques, (lacking 37 leaves, added feasts in calendar very worn on some leaves, f.1 torn upper corner, water damage and rubbing to some initials with offsets on facing leaves, border f.11 cropped). Modern blue morocco with silver clasp by McLeish.
1. The original calendar is Roman in emphasis and favours Franciscan saints: translation Anthony of Padua (15 Feb), trans. Francis (25 May), Clare (12 Aug), Louis of Toulouse (19 Aug) with octave, Francis (4 Oct) with octave, Elizabeth of Hungary (19 Nov), with a significant number of Spanish saints: Antoninus (2 Sept) of Palencia, Eulalia of Barcelona (11 Feb and 23 Oct), Narcisus, bishop of Gerona (29 Oct). The Dominican Vincent Ferrer (5 April) died in 1418 and was canonised in 1455; he could have been included before then, particularly in or near Valencia, since evidence of a cult was one possible proof of sanctity. Sts Clara and Elizabeth give a Franciscan bias to the Litany, where many monastic saints are invoked.
2. Many of the spaces left in the calendar have been filled in a later fifteenth-century hand: some Spanish saints, Leander (27 Feb) and Hermengildis (13 April) both Seville; a variety of Italians, Felicianus, Foligno (24 Jan), Geminianus, Modena (29 Jan), translation Mark, Venice (30 Jan), Zeno, bishop of Verona (12 April), Ubald, Gubbio (6 May); others include: Paul, bishop of Narbonne (22 March), Gotard bishop of Hildesheim (5 May); St Catherine of Siena (30 April) was canonised in 1461; the Franciscan St Bernadino (20 May), died 1446 and canonised 1450, was also added, supporting a date before the mid-15th century for the original text. A kneeling figure appears to have been added over the border at the foot of f.1.
3. ?Herbert...: torn ex libris on f.1.
4. The three added paper leaves are annotated with an index to the Psalms in a later hand with a heading in French.
Calendar ff.1-10 (lacking June and July) with later additons; Psalter, interspersed with canticles, numbered in a continuous sequence including each division of Ps 119, 1-169, omitting 66, the incipit of the Confitebor is mistakenly numbered 170 at the start of the list of Canticle incipits, which follows the last psalm (lacking end Ps 9, Ps 10, opening Ps 11, end Ps 25, opening Ps 26, end of Confitebor, opening of Ps 38, end Ps 48, Ps 49-51, opening Ps 52, end Exultavit, opening Ps 68, Ps 80-87, opening Ps 88, end of Domine audivi, Ps 97-101, opening Ps 102, end Audite celi, opening Ps 109, end Ps 144, Ps 145-6, opening Ps 147) ff.11-197v; Litany (lacking opening) ff.198-201. The index to the Psalms was compiled when the manuscript was still complete and Ps 150 began on p.420. The canticles more usually follow the Psalms in an independent sequence, a convention acknowledged by the listing of the canticle incipits at the end of the Psalter.
The missing leaves include all the major divisions of the Psalter, which offsets on ff.140v and 152 suggest would all have been decorated with full borders as on f.11. The surviving decoration shows the book to have been illuminated in a style current in Barcelona and Valencia. The large initial with its three-dimensional cusping is paralleled in the great breviary of Martin of Aragon of 1398-1410 (Paris, BnF, Ms Rothschild 2529): F. Avril et al., Manuscrits enluminés de la péninsule Ibérique, 1982, pp.107-110, pls LXIV-LXVI. In the densely populated border, deriving from French or Netherlandish models, grotesques with mitred human heads are pleasingly interspersed with more naturalistic birds and a delightfully red squirrel, who clambers up the acanthus stem. The French or Netherlandish models being followed in the border design suggest a later date than does the cusped initial, placing the Psalter in the second quarter of the 15th century, before the cult of St Bernadino had reached Spain.