(Southern Austria: ca. 1400). 410 x 265 mm. (16 1/8 x 10 3/8").  leaves. Double column, 37 lines in a fine "Cursiva Libraria" hand.
Antique-style 19th century calf, blind-tooled panel borders, upper cover with paper label titled "St Augustine / Ennarrationes in Psalmos LXII-LXXI / MS Sec. XIV," blind-ruled raised bands, catchplates for clasps intact (lacking bands). Rubrics in red, capitals struck in red, running title in red, numerous one-line initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork, WITH 18 SMALL (THREE-LINE) AND 12 LARGE (FIVE- TO 11-LINE) INITIALS painted in pinks, blues, greens, and reds, ALL ON A HIGHLY BURNISHED GOLD GROUND, MOST WITH ACANTHUS-LIKE EXTENDERS REACHING INTO THE MARGINS, ONE INITIAL WITH A DRAGON INCORPORATED INTO THE EXTENDER. For a similar manuscript in the Houghton Library (MS Typ 333), see: Ricci, Census II, 1697, no. 21; Wieck, Houghton, p. 132, fig. 132. See also: Röhrig, "Miniaturen zum Evangelium von Heinrich Aurhaym," figs. 1-22. Rear hinge separated, front hinge partly so (but boards still firmly attached), leather with significant rubbing and scarring, but the binding quite sound and not at all unpleasing. The occasional negligible marginal blemish or wrinkling, but INTERNALLY CLOSE TO PRISTINE, the vellum extremely clean with ample margins, and the capitals with vivid colors and exceptionally bright gold.
This luxurious manuscript containing Augustine's commentary on the Psalms features a high quality book hand and sumptuously illuminated initials that seem as fresh and dazzling as the day they were painted; the work apparently comes from a time and place not known for producing large numbers of manuscripts that have been subjected to careful study, but we do seem to have clues about who might have been responsible for the present codex. This work is extremely similar to Houghton Library MS Typ 333, described by Roger Wieck as likely originating in Austria in the late 14th century and also containing text from St. Augustine's "Enarrationes" (Psalms 119-49). In terms of script, these two manuscripts exhibit identical letter forms and delicate textual flourishes, making it clear that the same scribe was responsible for both. In Albert Derolez's nomenclature, the script here most closely resembles "Cursiva Libraria," a kind of elevated cursive used in the production of luxury books. Unlike documentary cursive, the Cursiva Libraria book hand is quite easy to read, contains few abbreviations or scribal ligatures, and is more carefully composed than its cousin. In terms of decoration, the illuminated initials in the present manuscript and in the Houghton exemplar are similar in every way, using the same color palette, the same gold and patterning, and the same distinctive extenders jutting into the margins. (However, there is no equivalent in the Houghton manuscript to the charming dragon occupying one of our initials.) The decoration of the initials in both manuscripts resembles the work of Austrian artist Heinrich Aurhaym or a close imitator. Aurhaym's output includes at least eight other known and datable manuscripts executed between 1399-1415 (all of which currently reside in various Austrian libraries). As with the Houghton manuscript, ours begins in the middle of a chapter of the Enarrationes, suggesting that it was once part of a larger work that probably contained the whole of the Commentary. Beyond the obvious interest in the text and historical origins of this manuscript, the contents are, quite simply, breathtaking to behold. The level of preservation seen here is nearly astonishing: the burnished gold is without any erosion and has a marvelous mirror finish, the paint looks as if it were still drying, the vellum is almost all snowy white, and the margins are well beyond merely comfortable. (ST15041)
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PJP Catalog: BibWk21.004