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Selon la sentence, histoire de la passion, and roger d’argenteuil
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106 leaves, 301mm. by 200mm., complete, collation: i-xiii8, xiv2 [of 4, blank iii-iv cancelled], 36 lines, ruled in pale red ink, written-space 205mm. by 120mm., written in dark brown ink in a regular lettre bâtarde, second leaf begins “cheminer Et pour”,  headings in bright red, final colophon in elaborate blue penwork, capitals touched in yellow, paragraph-marks in pale blue, some (not many) 2-line illuminated initials in liquid gold with decorative infilling on dark red grounds, one 3-line (fol.85r), three 4-line initials (fols.1r and 97r) in several colours and liquid gold, three-sided illuminated border on first page formed of flowers and fruit with coloured acanthus leaves infilled with gold bezants and black dots, fifty-one large miniatures in full colours and liquid gold in rectangular or arch-topped compartments with partial illuminated borders of flowers and fruit, a few early marginal notes, coats-of-arms on fols.1r and 62v cut out and amateurishly replaced, first pages a bit smudged and dampstained, some miniatures with spots of rubbing and smudging (fols.14v, lower miniature on 62v, and 96v, and two with the Devil deliberately smudged, fols.59r and 86r), other signs of use but generally in good state, eighteenth-century French green morocco gilt, by Derome le Jeune (according to A.R.A. Hobson, 1961), 3-line gilt border, spine in compartments profusely gilt ‘à l’oiseau’, gilt edges, marbled endleaves \nText\nThis is a very unusual composite vernacular text, or group of related texts, which mix religion, dramatic performance, history and romance, arranged around an elaborate translation of the account of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, and an account of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and Vespasian in 70 A.D.   The main subject was a common theme for medieval Passion plays, and both the text and the illustrations here – with strong narrative element, explicit gestures and finite choice of backdrops – are very probably rendered from actual performances of mystery plays (cf. E. Roy, La mystère de la Passion on France, 1903-4, and G. Hasenohr, ‘Passions et vies de Christ’, La littérature française aux XIVe et XVe siècles, I, 1988, p.293).   One need look no further than a current film directed by Mel Gibson to see the extraordinary dramatic and emotional impact of the theme on its audience.\nThe manuscript is in three parts.   The first opens on fol.1r, “Cy commence hystoire de la passion nostre seigneur … la quelle il souffrit regnant tyberien lempereur de romme nomme Cesar… Selon la sentence du philosophe aristote …”.   It is arranged in sections, with various headings.  “Texte” is the biblical narrative, paraphrased and often hugely expanded.   There are quotations from the Church fathers and later theologians, either explanatory or devotional, attributed here to Origen, Boethius, John Chrysostom, Cyprian, Cassiodorus, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory, Bede, Isidore, Pseudo-Dionysius the Aereopagite, Bernard of Clairvaux, the Glossa Ordinaria, Thomas Aquinas, etc.   There are moral interpretations, sometimes as dialogue, as “Question” and “Responce”.   There is history, ascribed to the Historia Scholastica, Eusebius, Theophilus, Pierre de Cluny (the tale about the wicked Conte de Macon, fols.35r-v), Philippe de Vitry (a story about Charlemagne, fol.54r), especially fables and miracle stories, with long sections called “Hystoire”, tales of romance and chivalry, with moral conclusions (these alone would make a fascinating publication).   There are fictional conversations of the Virgin Mary and other legends.   There is classical philosophy and literature, with Aristotle, Virgil, Cato, Claudian, Julius Caesar, and others, cited by name.  It ends on fol.85r, “… sans fin & regnera, Amen”.\nThe text has no known author, although it evolves from the tradition of Bonaventura’s Meditations on the Passion of Christ.   Similar but not identical texts include the Histoire de la Passion of which a copy was sold in the Ritman sale in these rooms, 6 July 2000, lot 34.   The present version is that usually described as ‘Selon la sentence’, and it is known in five incunable editions and 12 recorded manuscripts (cf. Hasenohr, loc cit., p.293).\nThe second text is often found with the first, although it is simpler in structure.  It opens on fol.85r, “Cy commence le mystere de la Resurrection … Le sabmadi bien matin estoit en leur maison …”, a long and discursive narrative, with much legendary addition, of the events of the first Easter weekend, ending on fol.96v, “… par tout le siecle des siecles, A[men]”.\nThe third text is here called “Cy est la vengeance Vaspasien”, opening on fol.97r, “Sainct Pierre sen vint en la cite de Romme …”.   It is taken from the Bible en français of Roger d’Argenteuil (R. Bossuat, Manuel bibliographique de la literature française du moyen âge, 1951, p.281, no.3014).  The text is recorded in 17 manuscripts, of which one, BnF ms. fr.969, also occurs with the text of the Selon la sentence on the Passion (cf. A.E. Ford, La vengeance de Nostre-Seigneur, The Old and Middle French Versions, 1993, pp.74-138, classifying the present text as his family ‘F’).   It is presented as history, a chronicle of the events leading up to the sacking and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, in retaliation for the Jews having brought about the Crucifixion, all ending on fol.106r here, “… ainsi comme le iuif fut du feu ardant, Et sic est finis, deo Gratias”.\nillumination\nTo judge from the list in Hasenohr, cited above, this is the most richly illustrated extant copy of the text.   It is painted in bright vibrant colours and with dramatic compositions in the style of the Tours illuminator, the Master of Jean Charpentier (cf. F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, 1993, pp.288-90, esp. no.158).    The subjects of the miniatures are:\n1. Folio 3v, The entry into Jerusalem, 86mm. by 56mm., Christ on a donkey walking to the right towards a medieval gothic gate, a young man laying out a red cloak on the ground, the apostles on foot behind; arched top, partial illuminated border.\n2. Folio 4v, The scattering of the money-changers, 85mm. by 57mm., Christ raising a club and dismissing three men who flee from their upturned table with a bag of money, gathering up piles of silver coins and a pair of scales, tiled floor, a tapestry behind, gothic vaulting above; partial illuminated border with daisies.\n3. Folio 5v, Christ curing the blind and the lame in the Temple, 80mm. by 56mm., Christ blessing two hunched up figures, one with a hat and staff, the other with a leper’s rattle, two apostles standing behind, a tapestry beyond, gothic vaulting above; partial illuminated border with thistles.\n4. Folio 7r, Christ and the woman taken in adultery, 86mm. by 60mm., Christ writing on the ground with his finger, the woman in a pink dress standing with her hands tied, two Pharisees walking away confounded, landscape background; arched top, partial illuminated border including violets.\n5. Folio 10r, the chief priests and elders conspiring together, 85mm. by 58mm., four richly-dressed figures is disputation, set in a gothic room, with pillars and lattice windows; partial illuminated border.\n6. Folio 11v, Judas receiving the 30 pieces of silver, 86mm. by 57mm., Judas entering a gothic room with a bag to meet two men seated at a table with piles of silver coins; partial illuminated border including daisies.\n7. Folio 13v, Christ sending Saints Peter and John to prepare the Last Supper, 86mm. by 56mm., set in a landscape, Peter holding a sword; partial illuminated border.\n8. Folio 14v, The Last Supper,86mm. by 65mm., Christ seated blessing in the centre behind a table laid with food, seven apostles present including Saint John asleep on Christ’s lap, set in a gothic interior; partial illuminated border.\n9. Folio 15r, Christ washing the disciples’ feet, 70mm. by 61mm., seven apostles seated together, Christ kneeling on the tiled floor with a basin and gold ewer; partial illuminated border including strawberries.\n10. Folio 16v, Christ instituting the Communion, 80mm. by 61mm., seated among the apostles at table holding the chalice and passing a wafer to a kneeling apostle, in a gothic interior; partial illuminated border including daisies.\n11. Folio 19r, Christ preaching on the love of God, 83mm. by 62mm., Christ still at table but with the food cleared away, speaking to the apostles gathered around him, in a gothic interior; partial illuminated border including daisies.\n12. Folio 23r, Christ going out with Saints Peter, James and John towards Gethsemane, 91mm. by 64mm., Christ walking to the right through a landscape followed by the three apostles, hills, trees and Jerusalem behind, the Kidron river in the foreground; partial illuminated border including violets.\n13. Folio 25v, Christ counselling his apostles to be brave, 85mm. by 55mm., Christ standing in the garden, the apostles seated, hill, trees and a wattle fence behind; partial illuminated border.\n14. Folio 27r, Christ praying as the apostles sleep, 91mm. by 62mm., Christ kneeling before a gold chalice on a little hill, the apostles hunched up, set on a little island, wattle fence behind; partial illuminated border.\n15. Folio 27v, Christ reprimanding the apostles for sleeping, 90mm. by 60mm., in the same setting; partial illuminated border including grapes.\n16. Folio 34r, soldiers entering the garden, 92mm. by 58mm., Christ in prayer with an angel above, Christ again in the foreground rousing the apostles, a crowd of soldiers led by Judas entering through a gate in the wicker fence beyond; arched top, partial illuminated border including grapes.\n17. Folio 36v, the soldiers falling to the ground before Christ, 90mm. by 59mm., Christ standing with Saint Peter beside him, six soldiers tumbling backwards to the ground, landscape background including a village in a wood; partial illuminated border.\n18. Folio 38v, Judas kissing Christ, 86mm. by 58mm., Malchus with blood-stained ear in the foreground, Saint Peter sheathing his sword, soldiers to the left with flaming torches; partial illuminated border.\n19. Folio 41r, Christ led away from Gethsemane, 93mm. by 60mm., his hands tied with a rope, two apostles remaining behind in the garden; arched top, partial illuminated border.\n20. Folio 45r, Christ led before Annas, 90mm. by 62mm., Annas as a bishop enthroned, Christ led forward by soldiers, gothic interior; partial illuminated border.\n21. Folio 47v, Christ before Caiaphas, 85mm. by 57mm., Christ led towards a bishop on the left, gothic interior with partial landscape visible through the windows; partial illuminated border including violets.\n22. Folio 57r, the buffeting of Christ, 89mm. by 61mm., Christ seated blind-folded as men and women slap his face; partial illuminated border.\n23. Folio 58r, Judas attempting to return the silver, 88mm. by 60mm., Judas on the left raising a bag and arguing with a group of elders in the Temple, gothic interior; partial illuminated border.\n24. Folio 59r, Judas hanging himself in the potter’s field, 66mm. by 51mm., the Devil going off with Judas’s soul, landscape background; partial illuminated border.\n25. Folio 60v, Christ led before Pilate, 85mm. by 57mm., Pilate seated on a gold throne, Christ brought in through a door on the left, gothic interior; partial illuminated border including strawberries.\n26. Folio 62v, Christ led before Herod, 88mm. by 62mm., the king on a richly draped throne in a gothic interior; full-length illuminated border, including roses and a coat-of-arms (replaced).\n27. Folio 62v, Christ sent back to Pilate, 44mm. by 42mm., in a gothic interior.\n28. Folio 63v, the scourging of Christ, 89mm. by 60mm., Christ stripped almost naked, tied to a pillar, lashed by men with whips, in a gothic interior; partial illuminated border including thistles.\n29. Folio 64r, the Crown of Thorns, 76mm. by 57mm., Christ in the purple robe seated while men twist the thorns around his head, in a gothic interior; partial illuminated border including thistles.\n30. Folio 64v, Pilate showing Christ to the Jews, 88mm. by 64mm., standing outside the gate of a palace in a landscape, Pilate in an ermine-trimmed robe, Christ tied and blood-stained; partial illuminated border including roses.\n31. Folio 66v, Pilate ordering the Crucifixion, 90mm. by 60mm., seated, giving directions to men with a rope, hammer, etc.; partial illuminated border.\n32. Folio 67v, Pilate washing his hands, 77mm. by 61mm., a boy pouring water as Pilate rinses his hands and watches as Christ is led away; partial illuminated border.\n33. Folio 68v, Christ carrying the Cross, 83mm.by 61mm., led out of the gates of Jerusalem accompanied by men on horseback; partial illuminated border including daisies.\n34. Folio 70r, the preparation of the Cross, 82mm. by 59mm., Christ seated while workmen prepare the Cross and drill holes in preparation for the nails, set in a landscape; partial illuminated border including strawberries.\n35. Folio 70v, the nailing to the Cross, 82mm. by 60mm., Christ stretched onto the Cross still lying on the ground as men hammer in huge iron nails; gently arched top, partial illuminated border including violets.\n36. Folio 71r, the Crucifixion, 98mm. by 59mm., the Virgin and Saint John on the left, two Jewish priests on the right, landscape background; arched top, partial illuminated border.\n37. Folio 76r, soldiers drawing lots for Christ’s robe, 72mm. by 55mm., three soldiers throwing dice and drawing their swords as they dispute the booty; partial illuminated border.\n38. Folio 81v, the Death of Christ, 97mm. by 67mm., a soldier on horseback passing a sponge on a spear to Christ, another soldier on horseback breaking the legs of the thieves crucified on either side, the Virgin swooning among the faithful at the lower right, landscape background; arched top, partial illuminated border including daisies.\n39. Folio 82r, the Descent from the Cross, 89mm. by 58mm., Joseph of Arimathaea and others receiving the Body, watched by the Virgin and Saint John; partial illuminated border including daisies.\n40. Folio 83v, the Pietà, 62mm. by 55mm., the Virgin holding the Body on her lap with the faithful gathered round and the Crown of Thorns on the ground; illuminated border into two margins including strawberries.\n41. Folio 84v, the Entombment, 85mm. by 62mm., the saints lowering the Body into a carved pink marble sarcophagus in a landscape; partial illuminated border.\n42. Folio 86r, the Harrowing of Hell, 87mm. by 55mm., Christ in a red robe holding a tall cross receiving naked souls from the mouth of Hell from which the gates have been torn down, a frustrated demon behind; partial illuminated border.\n43. Folio 87r, the Resurrection, 72mm. by 55mm., Christ standing before the empty tomb as the soldiers lie asleep; illuminated border into two margins.\n44. Folio 88r, the three Maries at the Sepulchre, 83mm. by 58mm., encountering an angel seated on the displaced lid; partial illuminated border including daisies.\n45. Folio 88v, Saints Peter and John arriving at the empty tomb, 77mm. by 55mm., the lid displaced and the shroud lying discarded; partial illuminated border.\n46. Folio 89r, the Noli me Tangere, 82mm. by 55mm., Saint Mary Magdalene kneeling before the risen Christ who holds a spade, set in a fenced garden; gently arched top, partial illuminated border including daisies.\n47. Folio 90r, Saint Mary Magdalene telling the disciples that Christ has risen, 65mm. by 47mm., the three Maries meeting the apostles in a gothic room; partial illuminated border including daisies.\n48. Folio 90v, Christ on the road to Emmaus, 77mm. by 55mm., Christ and his apostles dressed as pilgrims at table, Christ breaking the bread, a dog eating a bone in the foreground; partial illuminated border including roses.\n49. Folio 92v, doubting Thomas, 85mm. by 57mm., Christ standing among the apostles in a gothic room, Saint Thomas kneeling and placing his hand in Christ’s side; partial illuminated border.\n50. Folio 94r, the Ascension, 83mm. by 55mm., Christ’s feet disappearing upwards leaving pink footprints on a hill, watched by the apostles; partial illuminated border.\n51. Folio 96r, Pentecost, 71mm. by 53mm., the apostles gathered around the Virgin as tongues of fire descend on them from the Holy Dove above; illuminated border into two margins, including strawberries.
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provenance

(1)  The original arms have been replaced on fols.1r and 62v by azure, 3 saltires or, borne (apparently) by the French families of Boislève and Molen, marquis de St-Poncy, Brittany. (2) Justin, Count MacCarthy Reagh, of Toulouse (1744-1811); his sale, Paris, de Bure, January-May 1817, lot 639 (this number in pencil on flyleaf). (3) John Cochran, A Catalogue of Manuscripts in Different Languages, London, 1829, p.130, no.494, “adorned with fifty-one miniature paintings highly finished, and in the finest preservation”, with an engraving on p.31 of the miniature on fol.81v, at £12.12s. (4) Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), his MS.6356, listed in his catalogue among acquisitions from the library of Lord Guilford (1766-1827); in fact, Phillipps MSS.6213-6432 were all bought from Cochran and few, if any, had actually been Guilford’s, whose collection was not sold until 1830.  Phillipps sale in these rooms, 26 November 1949, lot 15, to Stonehill. (5) Albert Natural, of Switzerland; his sale in these rooms, 11 April 1961, lot 181. (6) From the library of James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell, Houston, Texas,  the present owners.


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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