Case containing Medieval Manuscripts

Including The 'De Croy' Book of Hours, French (possibly Jean Fouquet of Tours) on vellum, c.1450-1500 [upper centre] and Lectionary, German on vellum, about 1160. [lower centre]
Work: 'De Croy' Book of Hours

The 'De Croy' Book of Hours shown in the photograph is described in William White's catalogue of the Library and Print Room of the Ruskin Museum (1890):

'Missal Album of Lady Diana de Croy.
An elaborately illuminated XVIth. Century French work.
'"Horæ Beati Mariæ Virginis," (or "Book of Hours,") consisting of 178 leaves of fine vellum, containing 20 full pages miniatures, besides numerous illuminated borders at one side of the pages. The subjects of the miniatures, which are all finely drawn and richly coloured, include, besides portraits, the Virgin (seated on a throne covered by a cloth of gold, and holding a lily in her left hand) and Child, with two playing Angels (in the scroll-work a fox piping to a cock); St. John on Patmos, (two apes and two goldfinches in the scroll-work); the apparition of Christ to St. Gregory at the Elevation of the Host, with all the sacred symbols above the Altar; the Adoring Virgin; the Visitation; the Crucifixion; Pentecost; the Three Persons of the Trinity (in white robes) adored by Angels (in scarlet colour); the burial procession (with a cathedral in the distance resembling Amiens); the Death of the Virgin, with a vision of God the Father holding the Infant Son; the Coronation of the Virgin; Actæon turned into a stag by Diana at the bath; David and Goliath (with two basilisks, a peacock, and two goldfinches in the scroll-work); and Job, with two of his "friends" and his wife.

This choice little volume was made for Lady Diana de Croy, of the house of Lorraine, who was a French Cousin to Mary Queen of Scots, whose autograph [is] amongst many others on the margins of the pages it bears. The dates of the autograph inscriptions range from 1572 to 1590, and many notable French dignitaries, chiefly amongst which those of the Berlaymont, Damant, Gaste, de Lalanne, de Lallaing, de Ligne, de Lorrainne, de Mansfel, de la March, Mastaing, de Meleun, de Monte Doglio, de Montmorency, Renesse, du Rhem and de Staneles families, are conspicuous. An excellent historical account of this interesting Prayer Book, and the personages connected with it, by Mr. Gershom Collingwood, appeared in the "Art Journal" for Nov. 1882, pp. 337-9.'

Work: Lectionary

The case also contained a German lectionary, which is described in White's catalogue as follows:

'Lectionary of the thirteenth Century, circa A.D. 1160. [i]Lectionarium Secundum usum diœceseos Augustanæ continens epistolas et Evangelias; 136 folio leaves, on vellum; the initial letters richly ornamented in pure gold and other colours, and having the first line of the Epistle or the Gospel of the day written in letters of silver.

The "LECTIONARY" was a portion of the sacred service which was never printed for actual use. In fact, being embodied in the Missal and the Breviary, it dropped out of the cycle of separate books before the discovery of printing. Therefore such editions as there are, are the work of scholars who made collections of the various old liturgies and printed them for critical purposes.

This excellent and copious collection of lessons, was most probably executed in France in the Twelfth century. The writing is of great accuracy and beauty, consisting of handsome lower-case Roman Majuscules, on very good and substantial vellum; with rubric titles of the Holy-days throughout the year, with the proper Lessons appointed for them. The entire volume contains 136 leaves, and it has been preserved with more than ordinary care; but the strong cover in which it has been placed, is of embossed German leather of the Fifteenth or even the Sixteenth century, and not the original binding, as was stated in the auction sale catalogue. The stamped ornamentation on the front side includes a frame composed of the name "Maria" on a scroll, repeated twenty-six times.

The collection comprises in all 250 separate Lessons, which commence on page 57 with "Invigilia Natalis Domini" -- the Scriptural reference has been recently added in pencil on the margin throughout the volume -- and end with those proper to the Dedication of a Church and an altar; in which series are 24 Sundays after Pentecost, and five Sundays in Advent.
This interesting manuscript was purchased at the sale of the Manuscript Library of S. W. Singer, Esq., Aug. 3rd 1858. A Latin line in the hand-writing of the Fifteenth century inscribed on the recto of the first leaf states that the book belonged to the Monastery of Ottenburen, an Abbey of Benedictines in Swabia, in the Diocese of Augsburg, Bavaria, on the left bank of the river Guntz, two leagues from Memmingen. [...] This work itself has passed through the famous collections of Mr. Singer and Sir W. Tite, and was purchased by Mr. Ruskin in the year 1880.'

Museum Furniture

Ruskin wanted Museum furniture that make objects readily accessible. This manuscript case performs the function of preservation by keeping its contents behind glass, whilst ensuring that the open pages remain visible.

In 1885, Ruskin wrote to the curator, Henry Swan, asking him to ensure that catalogues were available for perusal and that drawers were kept open so that students could study the contents (2 July 1875).

Ruskin also indicated that students might need to earn the right to certain kinds of access.

Collection of the Guild of St George, Museums Sheffield
In his 1876 report on the purchase of the mineral cabinet, he explains of the minerals that 'Permission to handle and examine them at ease will be eventually given, as a moral and mineralogical prize, to the men who attain a certain proficiency in the two sciences of Mineralogy and Behaviour' (Works, 28, p. 702). Presumably, this instruction also applied to the Museum's collection of precious manuscripts.

Manuscripts Holdings

William White's Descriptive Catalogue of the Library and Print Room of the Ruskin Museum (1890) gives a detailed account of the manuscripts in the Museum Library. The following information is based on the descriptions and categories of that catalogue:

A. Manuscripts, Black Letter and Mediæval Books

I. Ancient Egyptian Manuscripts

  • The Papyrus of Ani; or Book of the Dead: A facsimile reproduction (1890) of the original Funereal Hieroglyphs in the British Museum.

II. Illuminated Missals and Other Manuscripts

  • Lectionary of the thirteenth Century, c. 1160: Lectionarium Secundum usum diÅ“ceseos Augustanæ continens epistolas et Evangelias; 136 folio leaves, on vellum

  • Sermones et homiliÅ“; Codex in Membranis; A Visi-Gothic manuscript of the 10th or 11th century; 280 leaves (18 1/2 x 13 1/4 inches); stout parchment; formerly torn pages now repaired.

  • A large manuscript Bible: Biblia Sacra Codex MS. in Mebronis; 400 folio leaves; thirteenth century; on vellum

  • Small manuscript Bible of thirteenth century; on vellum; the words 'Aux Capucin de Mante' written on the margin of several pages

  • Missal of the thirteenth or fourteenth century; on vellum

  • Homilies of Popes Gregory the Ninth, and Sextus the Fourth: Decretales P. P. Gregorii IXth. et Sexti IVth. Codex Membranaceus; 291 leaves; with marginal commentary

  • Missal Album of Lady Diana de Croy; illuminated; sixteenth century; French

III. Early Printed Bibles

  • Black Letter German Bible of the Sixteenth Century: Die Gantze Bibel. Christoffel Forschouer, Zurich, 1540; large folio (14 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches); with woodcut illustrations after Hans Holbein and others

  • Baskerville Bible: Cambridge, 1763; double elephant folio (20 x 13 inches); beautifully printed, with each book commencing on a fresh page; includes the Apocryphal Books

IV. Works Appertaining to Mediæval Art and History
[These were not manuscripts or rare books, but were intended to support the study of such material.]

  • J. O. Westward, Palægraphia Sacra Pictoria; a series of illustrations of the ancient versions of the Bible, copied from illuminated manuscripts executed between fourth and sixteenth centuries; with 50 colour plates; royal quarto; 1843-5

  • S. R. Maitland, The Dark Ages: A Series of Essays to Illustrate the State of Religion and Literature in the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Centuries, 2nd edn, 1845

  • Henry Shaw, The Handbook of Mediæval Alphabets and Devices, 1853

  • The Legend of Saint Ursula and the Virgin Martyres of Cologne, 1869

  • Catalogue of Additions to the Manuscripts in the British Museum, in the years 1882-1887; compiled by the Keepers and Assistants of the Department; 1889; presented by the Trustees of the British Museum

  • W. G. Collingwood, The Philosophy of Ornament: Eight Lectures on the History of Decorative Art, 1883

V. Choice Bindings

  • J. T. Cobden Sanderson, 'A fine English specimen of the art of bookbinding', in red morocco, richly tooled; covering a copy of Ruskin's Unto this Last; presented by Mr Sanderson in 1886
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