Current Issue Article Abstracts

Fall 2022 Vol. 7.2

• • • • • • • •


Tammaro De Marinis, Vittorio Forti, and the Acquisition of Islamic Manuscripts for J. P. Morgan in Constantinople in 1913
Federico Botana

In winter 1913, the Italian bookdealer Tammaro De Marinis, with his business associate Vittorio Forti, embarked in an ambitious mission: the acquisition in Constantinople of Islamic manuscripts ultimately for purchase by J. P. Morgan. Forti spent about two months there, but his expedition was not as successful as he and De Marinis expected. Moreover, just as the acquired manuscripts began to arrive in Italy, Morgan died, and it took De Marinis more than a decade to find an alternative buyer for the collection, which amounted to more than 400 manuscripts.

This article is based on letters sent from Constantinople by Forti to De Marinis. These letters, still unpublished, paint a vivid picture of Forti's hunt for manuscripts in the Ottoman capital during the period of the First Balkan War. They contain glimpses of influential Turkish figures, as well as European intellectuals, diplomats and artists, and colourful local dealers, all of whom Forti depended on to achieve his goals. By today’s standards, Forti's modus operandi would be unacceptable. He was more than willing to bribe officials to obtain manuscripts from public collections and to take advantage of the volatile political situation. His letters seem particularly pertinent today, when museums and public libraries increasingly face questions about the provenance of some of their acquisitions, and as scholars consider new ethical ways of dealing with the problem.


One Binding, Two Binders? A Greek-Style Binding Made in Italy: The Case of Brussels, Royal Library of Belgium, MS 11344
Georgios Boudalis, Anna Gialdini

From c. 1450 to c. 1580, Greek-style bindings made in western Europe (also known as ‘alla greca’ bindings) were produced in a number of locales, mainly in Venice, Florence, Rome, and the court of France. Popular with collectors from the fifteenth century to this day, these bindings show a variety of techniques and different degrees of hybridism between the Byzantine practices which they imitated and the western European techniques of the time. Various theories have been explored as to the ethnicity of their makers (Greek or Italian) but so far, very little is known on the topic.

This article uses the case study of a manuscript at the Royal Library of Belgium (MS 11344 (Omont 79)) and its binding, which displays both Greek and Italian elements. The manuscript’s endbands were made according to a sophisticated Byzantine technique called ‘full wrapped on multiple additional cores twined endband’; the tooling of the covers, on the other hand, was made using typically Italian tools of the turn of the sixteenth century. This suggests a collaboration between a Greek and an Italian binder, which can cast new light on the making of Greek-style bindings more in general; it also makes a case for using the study of bookbinding techniques to investigate the social and cultural history of the book.


The Position of Jewish Art and Exegesis in an Illustrated Christian Biblical Commentary: Ezekiel’s Vision of the Tetramorph in Fourteenth-and Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts and Printed Copies of Nicholas of Lyra’s Postilla litteralis
Sarah E. Bromberg

In the Postilla litteralis (Literal Commentary) (1322-1333), Nicholas of Lyra, a Franciscan biblical scholar at the University of Paris, compared Jewish and Christian commentaries on the Old Testament and designed illustrations and diagrams to augment those comparisons. The Postilla litteralis was copied with such an astounding frequency that it can be considered a medieval best seller. These manuscript and printed copies often included copies of Nicholas’ illustrations. This article uses a singular case study of Nicholas of Lyra’s visual comparisons between Latin and Hebrew exegesis regarding the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel’s vision of four winged creatures to shed light on how copies of Nicholas of Lyra’s illustrations represent Jewish visual and textual exegetical traditions. The goal of this article is to provide a nuanced exploration of fourteenth and fifteenth-century copies of Postilla litteralis manuscripts that display Nicholas’ illustrations of Ezekiel’s first vision. These images reveal a reliance on rabbinic commentary regarding literal meanings of scripture yet ultimately reject Jewish visual traditions of representing the divine, a strategy that supports Nicholas’ messianic interpretation of Ezekiel 1. This article uses illuminations and woodcuts in manuscript and printed copies of the Postilla litteralis, illuminations in Hebrew bible and prayer manuscripts, and illuminations in other Christian biblical commentaries to consider Nicholas’ multifaceted and varied perceptions of Jewish commentary on Ezekiel 1. I end by claiming that the copies of the Postilla litteralis’ visual comparisons between Jewish and Christian commentary operate to clarify inconsistencies within Christian iconography regarding Ezekiel 1.



The HMML Authority File: Current Status and Future Directions
Denise Soufi, Daniel K. Gullo

This annotation describes the HMML Authority File (HAF), an open access database of authority records used by the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library that currently focuses on name authorities related to the Eastern Christian and Islamic manuscript traditions, but will eventually include all of HMML’s authority files. It explains the project’s history, describes how the file is populated, and discusses the best methods for searching and accessing the rich data stored in the file. As the file is a Beta project, the annotation also discusses its shortcomings and their intended solutions, as well as other future directions.


User-Friendly Software for Identifying Moldmates and Twins in Antique Laid Paper: Case Study of a Disbound Blank Book
Abigail Slawik, Margaret Holben Ellis, William A. Sethares, C. Richard Johnson Jr.

This progress report details the imaging and initial analysis of watermarks and countermarks present in antique, laid paper leaves from a partial, disbound blank book in the study collection of the Conservation Center at the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU. Preliminary review of watermark catalogues indicates that the paper, featuring the coat-of-arms of Le Tellier of three stars over three lizards, and a countermark reading “H. J. Cusson,” dates roughly from the late seventeenth to early eighteenth centuries. Of the approximately 115 sheets, 20 were analysed using software developed by William A. Sethares (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and C. Richard Johnson, Jr. (Cornell University) to reliably predict whether individual papers were likely to have been made by the same papermaking mold. The programs allowed for the comparison of watermark and countermark shapes by comparison of the ratios of their internal proportions (WatermarkMarker), and the generation of animated overlay .gifs that fade from one image to the next, for instant visual comparison (WatermarkPointMarker and VisualizeOverlays). The incidence of watermarks and moldmates in the folios were also mapped using the VisCodex online collation visualization tool, developed by the University of Toronto Libraries, in collaboration with Dot Porter and Alberto Campagnolo. The results suggest that the stack of sheets was made from two papermaking molds, making the papers moldmates and twins. The progress report concludes with a hypothesis as to which watermark was connected to which countermark, and suggests that the connections between half-sheets may be more easily recreated after more sheets have been analyzed both visually, and with the software.


Christus homo factus Wm Cleue prosperet actus: Examining a Provenance Mark with Suggestions About the Later Ownership of the Paris Apocalypse (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 403)
Emerson Storm Fillman Richards-Hoppe

This annotation explores an unremarked upon provenance feature of the Paris Apocalypse (Paris, BnF Ms. fr 403), a mid-thirteenth-century illustrated Anglo-Norman Book of Revelation. While early scholars, such as Delisle, Meyer, and James, concerned their scholarship primarily with establishing a stemma to relate the Apocalypse manuscripts to each other, modern scholarship on the Apocalypses, such as that of Lewis, Emmerson, and Morgan, interests itself in using the Apocalypses to better understand reading habits and the culture surrounding them.

This annotation offers an examination of a short ownership rhyme included on the back coverboard of the Paris Apocalypse which reads "Christus homo factus; W(illel)m prosperet actus." This rhyme appears in Oxford Bodl. Ms 110, an early fifteenth-century English composite manuscript of 184 leaves containing a collection of medieval Latin works of Christian instruction and preaching. After a comparison of the paleographic features, I fit the owner, William Cleve, into the known provenance narrative of the Paris Apocalypse and find that his brief ownership of the book was in fact likely.


Three Manuscript Notes on the Emperor Nerva
Thomas M. Izbicki

Manuscripts of Suetonius' De vita caesarum occasionally include notes referring to Nerva, the emperor who succeeded Domitian, the last of those Caesars. Of these notes, three match almost exactly. This annotation examines the potential sources of those notes. They include not just facts about Nerva but a reference to the Apostle John, which suggests the combination of classical and post classical sources in the exemplar of these three notes.



Reading English Verse in Manuscript, c. 1350–c. 1500 by Daniel Sawyer (review)
Elizaveta Strakhov

Talk and Textual Production in Medieval England by Marisa Libbon (review)
Jamie K. Taylor

The Glosses to the First Book of the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville: A Digital Scholarly Edition ed. by Evina Steinová (review)
Jeffrey C. Witt, Nicolás Vaughan

The First Arabic Annals: Fragments of Umayyad History by Edward Zychowicz-Coghill (review)
Paul M. Cobb 

Catalan Maps and Jewish Books: The Intellectual Profile of Elisha ben Abraham Cresques (1325–1387) by Katrin Kogman-Appel (review)
Javier Del Barco 

Catalogue de manuscrits occitans acquis de 1975 à 1994 par le Centre international de documentation occitane (CIDO, Béziers) by François Pic (review)
Wendy Pfeffer 

Revisiting the Codex Buranus: Contents, Contexts, Compositions ed. by Tristan E. Franklinos and Henry Hope (review)
Joseph W. Mason 

The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books by Elina Gertsman (review)
Dominic Marner

List of Manuscripts Cited