6247. Illuminated manuscript 1477 Carthusian provenance

PSALTER AND ANTIPHONAL, with Canticles, Pater Noster, Te Deum and parts of an Office for the Dead, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment [north-western Italy (most probably Charterhouse of Asti, Piedmont), dated 1477].

204 leaves (plus a contemporary parchment pastedown at each end), 290 x 200 mm., complete, collation: i-xii10, xiii9 (last an apparent cancelled blank), xiv-xx10, xxi5 (last a cancelled blank), catchwords set within ornamental penstrokes, single column of 18 lines in two sizes of a fine calligraphic bookhand, music in square notation on a 4-line red stave, paragraph marks and rubrics in red, capitals in ornamental penstrokes with some picking out human faces, simple small and rotund initials in red or blue (those in lowermost line extending into bas-de-page in long curling strokes), larger initials in same with elaborate contrasting penwork, a few large initials in red or blue with foliage picked out in blank parchment within their bodies, infilled with and encased in densely scrolling penwork foliage with green-edged leaves on yellow grounds (shaped to look like gold fruit and bezants), one very large initial (nearly half-page in height) on frontispiece in same with penwork decoration filling inner border and surmounted by an ornamental urn, a somewhat rustic full-page Crucifixion miniature signed and dated by the artist in a banderole in the inner margin (see below), with the scene set before a hilly landscape and a deep blue sky, within borders of a bear set within a red square holding woody foliage with pointed flowers and rippling leaves (all apparently influenced by southern German style), with blue penwork and bezants encased within penstrokes, typed inscription in Swedish of last owner pasted to inside backboard, some small spots and stains, occasional gatherings darkened through long exposure (probably left lying open in a church), slight cockling to first few leaves, else very good condition; contemporary or near-contemporary tooled brown leather over wooden boards, with floral rollstamps around three central knotwork designs, metal cornerpieces and clasp attachments, some cracking and scuffing at spine, but solid in binding.

1. From the medieval library of the Carthusians of Asti, Piedmont (also known as the Charterhouse of Valmanera, dedicated to SS. James and Philip), with their classmark "CCLXXVI Cartusie Ast[..]" in bas-de-page of first leaf in apparently fifteenth-century hand, and ex libris: "Cartusia Astensis" at head of same in late sixteenth-century hand. The house was founded in the eleventh or first half of the twelfth century as a Vallombrosan monastery, but was handed over to the Carthusian Order in the late fourteenth century as part of a papal suppression of the decadent Vallombrosan house. Vatican Library, Cod. Vat. lat. 11276, contains the only known catalogue of the library, numbering 354 codices. The community was suppressed in 1801 and its property confiscated by the Napoleonic government. A small number of the books of the community were permitted to leave with individual inmates (presumably including the present volume), and the remainder were confiscated and put towards the foundation of a public library in the town (see G. Chiarle in Monasticon Cartusiense,4:3, 2011, pp. 253-254). Les Enluminures: Text Manuscripts own another volume from this same community (a Breviary, with the inscription "ccxliij. B. Monasterij cartusie Ast.",cataloguing now accessible online as their TM815), and these two are apparently the only two recorded examples of manuscripts from this library on the open market.
The present codex was most probably written and illuminated in the house itself, and the artist of its single full-page miniature names himself in a banderole in the middle of its inner border, apparently as 'Artiner': "A[nno] D[om]ni 1477 Artiner fec[it]".
2. In private hands by the nineteenth century, with a paper printed ex libris with a shield (but erased inscription) of that date pasted to upper part of back pastedown.
3. Falk Simon (1874-1957) of Göteborg, businessman and art collector, whose fine silver collection passed to the Röhsska Museum there and whose paintings and drawings were catalogued in Falk Simons Samling av Målningar och Teckningar in 1955; this volume then Kvalitetsauktion, Malmö, on 10 November 1979, lot I:3, to Mellgrens Antikvariat.
4. Roman Kaczmar, bought from Mellgrens in 1982: his MS. 2-3.82, with his inkstamp (a quartered orb surmounted by a cross, with his initials in the lower compartments of the orb).

This was an important volume for the liturgical life of the Carthusian community at Valmanera, central to their daily worship, and as such may have been carried into exile by the last inmates of the house. Its liturgical readings may well be a unique record of the religious life there.

We would like to thank Dr. Timothy Bolton for the cataloguing of this lot.