Graduale (1526-1527)

Bewaarplaats onbekend [veiling]

antiquariaat Jacques Rosenthal, München (tot 1937 ?)1
veilinghuis Sotheby, London (2002)
folia 150 folia
kopiist De Ercklents (Erkelenz ?) of Eerclems Amelontius (?)
herkomst Liège: kartuizers
datering 1526-1527
biblioref. Sotheby's auction catalogue Fifty magnificent illuminated manuscripts, London, Tuesday 3 December 2002, p. 254-257, 2 ill.2
  • 1. Jakob Rosenthal († 1937) was een antiquaar in München.
  • 2. Beschrijving volgens de veilingcatalogus
    GRADUAL, CARTHUSIAN USE, IN LATIN, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [western Rhineland (probably Liège)], dated 1526-27.
    147 leaves, plus 3 original preliminaries, 382mm. by 276mm., complete, collation: 3 preliminaries + i-xvii8 , xviii6, xix5 [of 6, blank vi cancelled], with catchwords and leaf signatures, contemporary foliation (followed here) in roman numerals in red in centre of rectos (excluding the preliminary leaves and accidentally omitting 57-8 and 106 without loss of text), 9 lines each of text in a large gothic liturgical hand and of music in square neumes on a 4-line black stave, written-space 284mm. by 180mm., rubrics in red, calligraphic initials throughout infilled in red, large painted initials throughout (usually several on every page) alternately red and blue, sometimes with decoration left white, fourteen very large decorated initials (fols. 17v, 95v, 97v, 101v, 102v, 103v, 119r, 121v, 126v, 128r, 131r, 136r, 138r and 139v) up to 100mm. by 110mm. in red or blue with acanthus decoration left in white all in filled and surrounded by dense leafy decoration in red-brown ink heightened with green, yellow, orange and other colours with marginal extensions sometimes to the full height of the page, eight large or very large historiated initials in colours and burnished gold with elaborate borders extending round three margins of the pages, sometimes with small vignettes and banderoles, many signs of active liturgical use probably over several centuries, many corrections and additions to the text and the music, some loosely enclosed sheets of paper with updated chants, many pages thumbed and battered, overall (however) a thoroughly sound and unsophisticated working medieval liturgical book in original state, upper cover of contemporary binding of massive wooden boards sewn on 6 thongs, side ruled with treble lines in a frame and lattice pattern, spine and lower cover replaced in 1704 (date stamped at foot), roll-tooled borders and saltire, 5 elaborate pierced metal bosses on each cover, stubs (only) of clasps on lower cover which once fitted over pins on upper cover (now lacking), flyleaves from 2 vellum bifolia of a very large fourteenth-century probably southern French illuminated glossed Decretals, leather indexing tabs on edqes of pages, old repairs to spine, binding very worn but sound.
    Almost certainly written and illuminated at the carthusian abbey of Our Lady of the Twelve Apostles at Mont-Cornillon, near Liège (founded 1357, suppressed 1797). It has not hitherto been noticed that this is the companion volume to Cape Town, National Library of South Africa, Grey MS. 6.b.3, which is written by the same scribe and is illuminated by the same artist. The bindings too are identical, and they use sheets from the same Decretals manuscript as flyleaves. The Cape Town volume is a Gospel Lectionary, signed by its scribe frater Amelontius de Ercklents and is dated 1520. He is perhaps the Amelontius Eerclems who matriculated at the university of Cologne in 1481 and therefore the shaky nature of the script in both books may be explained by his advanced age. The town of Erkelenz was in the diocese of Liege until 1558. The present volume is dated by the scribe in decorative cadels the text itself, 1526 (fols. 32r, 72r, 73r, 87v, 123v, 134r and 136v), once as 1527 (fol. 60r), and it concludes on the last page with a dated colophon, "semel pro anima scriptoris heu peccatoris," The feast of the dedication has a curious border made up of fish. This might be an allusion to the Apostles, fishers of men, to whom the monastery was dedicated. For the Cape Town volume and the reasons for localising it at to the Liège Carthusian house, see C. Steyn, The Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Grey Collection of the National Library of South Africa, Cape Town, II, 2002, pp.128-33; cf. also J. Stiennon, "La bibliothèque et le scriptorium de la Chartreuse de Liège, des origines au XVIe siecle", Chronique Archéologique du Pays de Liège, XXXVII, 1946, pp.58-64; and A. Derolez, ed., Corpus Catalogorum Belgii, The Medieval Booklists of the Southern Low Countries, II, Provinces of Liege, Luxembourg and Namur, 1994, pp. 39-44. The abbey church was destroyed by fire in 1487 and the liturgical books were lost. "As in all Charterhouses, the copying of manuscripts was among the chief activities of the monks" (ibid, p.39). The present book clearly remained in use at the abbey until the eighteenth century and it is marked up in the same hands as the South African volume. The monastery was pillaged by soldiers in 1792 and 1794 and "most of the manuscripts remaining after that event seem to be lost" (ibid, p. 40). The Cape Town volume first appeared in a sale in our rooms, 26 June 1856.
    The present volume was formerly owned by Jacques Rosenthal; it was afterwards Messrs. Tenschert, Leuchtendes Mittelalter, II (1990), no. 25.
    The text is of Carthusian use. The sparse Litany and Sanctoral both commemorate St. Bruno (fols. 82r and 132r). That this is St. Bruno, founder of the Grand Chartreuse, is shown by the fact that his feast is listed before that of St. Denis (the feast of St. Bruno the Carthusian is 6 October, that of St. Denis is 9 October, but that of the other St. Bruno, bishop of Cologne, is 11 October). It also includes the Carthusian saint, Hugh of Lincoln (fol. 132v). Both the style of the illumination and the St. Hubert of Liège (fol. 132v also) are entirely consistent with the book's provenance. The text opens on the preliminaries with the Common for feasts of the Virgin. The Gradual itself opens on fol. 1 with the introit for the first Sunday in Advent, with the Temporal from Advent complete to the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; the Dedication of a Church (fol. 120r); the Sanctoral, from St.Andrew (30 November, fol. 121r) to St. Katherine (25 November); the Common (fol. 133v); and the Office of the Dead (fol. 146r).
    It is a curious fact that the invention of printing led to a revival of monastic book production. Until about 1200, most monks had made their own books. From about 1250 to the late fifteenth century, commercial workshops supplied the majority of all books for European consumption, and a monastery like Poissy, for example (lot 5 above), would most likely have ordered its liturgical books from a professional workshop. However, once the book trade had moved into printing, there was no longer a commercial source of supply for books of specifically local needs. A printed edition would not be economical for any text unique to a particular monastery; and so the monks again, after 300 years, reopened their scriptoria. The present manuscript is certainly a monastic production, very plausibly decorated by Amelontius de Ercklents himself.
    The general style of illumination is that of the late fifteenth-century Rhineland, including the sweeping sprays of burnished gold lines on fol. 1 r which are characteristic of the region of Cologne. For the general style, cf. Herbst des Mittelalters, Spätqothik in Köln, exhib., Cologne, 1970, nos. 112-9; and the thesis of J. KIRSCHBAUM, Das Skriptorium der Kölner Fraterherren am Weiderbach, Bonn, 1970. The miniatures here are:
    (1) Folio 1r, David in prayer, historiated initial "A" ("Ad te levavi"), 100mm. by 115m., his hat and harp on the ground, God in the sky above; full border including the Virgin and Child linked to a bearded patriarch, presumably David or Jesse, or even Isaiah, with banderoles, "virgo concipiet et pariet filium et vocabitur nomen eius emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14) and "Egredietur virga de radice yesse et flos de radice eius ascendet" (Isaiah 11: 1).
    (2) Folio 12v, The Nativity of Christ, historiated initial "P" ("Puer natus est"), 100mm. by 107mm., the Child on the hem of the Virgin's robe, Joseph with a candle, putti in the ruins of the stable behind.
    (3) Folio 82v, The Resurrection, historiated initial "R" ("Resurrexi et adhuc"), 97mm. by 110mm., Christ stepping from the tomb holding a banner, soldiers asleep in the foreground.
    (4) Folio 120r, Christ and Zacchaeus, historiated initial "T" ("Terribilis est locus"), 99mm. by 108mm., Christ with the apostles and Zacchaeus up the fig tree; border including fish and a barrel.
    (5) Folio 133v, Saints Andrew and James the Greater, historiated initial "M" ("Michi autem nimis"), 98mm. by 102mm., the former with book and cross, the latter dressed as a pilgrim with staff and a cockle shell on his hat.
    (6) Folio 141 v, The Assumption of the Virgin, historiated initial "G" ("Gaudeamus omnes"), 100mm. by 100mm., the Virgin crowned and lifted by angels; two putti in the border.
    (7) Folio 145r, The Virgin and Child, historiated initial "S" ("Salve sancta parens"), 67mm. by 65mm., with banderoles in the border "O florens rosa, mater domini speciosa, O virgo mitis, O fecundissima vitis" and "Clarior aurora pro nobis omnibus ora".
    (8) Folio 146r, Death in a tomb, historiated initial "R" ("Requiem eternam dona eis"), 60mm. by 65mm., skulls in the foreground and in the border.