PSALTER WITH CANTICLES AND LITANY, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?diocese of Utrecht, 3rd quarter 13th century]120 x 100mm. 214 leaves: 16, 2-88, 97(of 8, lacking viii), 10-138, 141+4(of 8, i now separate on a guard and lacking ii, iii and iv), 157(of 8, lacking i), 168, 177(of 8, lacking viii), 18-198, 207(of 8, lacking vi), 21-268, 2710, 285, stubs before gathering 2, many of the gatherings include paired singletons, likely five of the lacking leaves with historiated initials, 18 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between a pair and a single vertical and 19 horizontals ruled in brown, the top, central and bottom pairs ruled across margins, justification: 81 x 55mm, one-line initials throughout in burnished gold with flourishing alternately of blue or red, line-fillers of the same colours, each Psalm or Canticle etc opening with a three-line initial of burnished gold against a ground and infill of pink or blue with white decoration accompanied by bar borders with cusped edges and of the same colours extending into three margins, TWELVE ROUND CALENDAR MINIATURES OF THE OCCUPATIONS OF THE MONTH, the divisions of the Psalter opening with FIVE LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS, with bar borders often with beast heads or drawn figures, including an archer shooting a bird in the margin (losses from gold surfaces, some leaves with spotting or staining, darkening in gutters of outer leaves of gatherings, hole in margin of f.3, wormholes in front flyleaf, paper repair to slit on f.2, David's face smudged in initial to Ps 51). Wooden boards from contemporary binding with impression of stamps and scoring (lower board mostly lacking, upper board detached, tawed bands and one catch and a fragment of leather survive).
1. The feasts in red in the Calendar point to the intended use in the diocese of Utrecht: Pontianus (14 January), Servatius (13 May), Odulph (12 June), Lebwin (25 June), Lambert (17 September), Gereon (10 October), Willibrord (& November), Lebwin (12 November). The illumination suggests that it was probably made in Utrecht itself.
2. The manuscript seems to have remained in Utrecht since a resident of the city -- 'franciscus de traiecto' -- wrote his name in a 15th-century hand on the inside of the front endleaf. Other pentrials and ownership inscriptions added to this leaf read: 'Iste liber pertenet francisco gosuini' with a merchant's mark with the monogram SM and cipher with date 1520.
Calendar ff.1-6; Psalter with Canticles and Suffrages, lacking at least eight leaves with the first two words of Ps 1, Ps 52 and the first four lines of Ps 53, from Ps 77.41 to Ps 78.8, opening 14 lines of Ps 80, from Ps 100.2 to Ps 101.4, Ps 109 and opening six lines of Ps 110 ff.7-189v; Canticles ff.189v-195v; Litany ff.195v-198; Collects ff.198-199v; Office of the Dead ff.200-209; Litany ff.210-214.
The Office of the Dead and the final Litany are later additions.
It is probable that this was a psalter in ten parts and that five of the lacking eight leaves had historiated initials to open Psalms 1, 52, 80, 101 and 109.
This manuscript is closely related to two other Psalters with Utrecht Calendars, both in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, M.34, dated to 1285-95, and M.113 with a prayer specifically for the church of St Martin in Utrecht, dated to the second half of the 13th century, see J.G. van Gelder, 'Een 13e eeuws psalterium met een Utrechtse kalender', Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, 1955, pp.57-76. The compositions of the present lot and M.113 are virtually identical, both for the Calendar roundels, including the delightful freedom of the hawk flying through the margin to return to his master in the roundel for May, and for the historiated initials; the painting is very similar in manner but perhaps not by the identical hand. While the bar borders with dragonhead terminals are also comparable, the decorative hierarchy of the present lot, with flourished initials and line endings for the text of the Psalms, is like that of M.34, which may well have been painted by the same hand at a later date. The form of the bar borders in the present Psalter supports a dating in the third quarter of the 13th century, perhaps closer in time to M.113 with which it shares designs.
The origin of the two Morgan Psalters has been much debated, given the paucity of evidence for the making of manuscripts in the diocese of Utrecht before the 15th century. Were they produced locally or imported from the southern Netherlands? Professor Gumbert preferred to describe them as of 'unknown origin' (The Dutch and their Books in the Manuscript Age, 1990, p.22). The discovery of a third psalter with an Utrecht calendar from the same group of illuminators greatly strengthens the case for locating their atelier in that city. The present lot provides new evidence that the cathedral city of Utrecht was already a centre of book production in the 13th century.
The subjects of the Calendar miniatures are: man warming his feet and legs in front of a chimneybreast (Jan); woman going to candlemass (Feb); man digging by a tree (Mar); youth holding out two sprays (Apr); man waiting for his hawk to return from the margin (May); man carrying a burden (Jun); man with a scythe (Jul), man cutting corn (Aug); man treading wine in a vat (Sept); man sowing (Oct); aproned man slaying a red ox (Nov); man putting loaf into an oven (Dec).
The subjects of the historiated initials are: David pointing to his eye and looking up at God (Ps 26); David pointing to his eye (Ps 38); David with a hairy devil (Ps 51); David reclining in water and praying to God above (Ps 68); priest and acolyte before an altar (Ps 97).