Lot Number 16
Year Published
Printed By
Description MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [BURGUNDY (ABBEY OF LUXEUIL), LATE SEVENTH OR EARLY EIGHTH CENTURY] a bifolium, each leaf 140mm. by 228mm., single column, with 18 lines in brown ink in a Luxeuil minuscule of the highest quality, three large initials in same, 3-word rubric in red uncials (now oxidised to silver), single natural hole in vellum in second leaf, some old water-damage to edges with discolouration to inner margins with some affect to edge of text, slight cockling and tiny hole in margin of first leaf, else in excellent condition, bound in calf gilt, in a quarter morocco case gilt
Comments A bifolium from one of the oldest extant French manuscripts, in the alluring and haunting script of Luxeuil Provenance The parent manuscript must have been in a French monastic library (but not necessarily Luxeuil) until the Revolution. Leaves were evidently in Britain by the early nineteenth century, and were probably dispersed as curiosities among antiquarians. The principal fragment of 78 leaves was bought by the British Museum in July 1841 from Bishop Samuel Butler (1777-1839), and is now British Library, Add. MS 11878. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) owned six leaves (his MS 36184); his sale in our rooms, 28 November 1973, lot 574 (now Houghton library, Harvard, MS Typ.592). Two leaves were discovered by a Paris bookseller in 1881 and sold to the Bibliothèque Nationale (now, and that institution has two further leaves (ms Seymour de Ricci presented a single leaf to the British Museum in 1927 (now Add. MS 41567). Another bifolium emerged in our rooms on 22 June 1999, lot 13. The present bifolium was acquired from Bruce Ferrini in 1991: Schøyen MS1361. text Gregory's Moralia in Job is probably the single most influential and important biblical commentary of the Middle Ages, rivalled only by Augustine on the Gospel of John. It encompasses the classic model of medieval exegesis, looking for three levels of meaning (literal, mystical and moral) within each sentence, but adds a great deal of other information, becoming almost a universal encyclopaedia. Gregory died in 604, and the present manuscript was probably written within a century of his lifetime, a claim that not many patristic manuscripts can make. Few monasteries can boast of such a significant impact on the cultural map of Europe in such a short lifespan as Luxeuil. The house was founded c.590 by St. Columbanus (c.545-615), a native of Leinster in southern Ireland, with help from King Sigebert of Austrasia and Burgundy. In 580 he left Ireland to evangelise in northern Britain, some twenty years before St. Augustine arrived in Kent. He travelled on to Brittany and Luxeuil, governing the house there for 25 years, before moving again to Italy to found Bobbio. The abbey of Luxeuil flourished for over a century, until it was sacked and destroyed in 731 by a raiding party of Moors under the general Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, governor of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). They took possession of the monastery and massacred most of the community. This act may well have prevented Luxeuil minuscule from becoming the standard bookhand of Carolingian France. The abbey then lay abandoned until its restoration under Emperor Louis the Pious (778-840), son of Charlemagne. The distinctive script was first identified by Mabillon in 1683, and has long been recognised as the first calligraphic minuscule in France. Marc Drogin, commenting on one of the Bibliothèque Nationale leaves of the present manuscript, notes its "strange artistic grace" (Medieval Calligraphy, 1980, p.46). Approximately 30 manuscripts and fragments in Luxeuil minuscule are now recorded (P. Salmon, Le lectionnaire de Luxeuil, 1953; augmented by E.A. Lowe, 'The Script of Luxeuil', Revue Bénédictine, 63, 1953, pp.132-42). Apart from the various leaves of this manuscript, the only other examples now in private hands are the four eighth-century leaves which were lot 1 in the Beck sale in these rooms, 16 June 1997 (dispersed among three collections), which were in a later and more debased form of the script, from after 700. The present leaves are from a manuscript which shows Luxeuil minuscule at its finest and most controlled. These leaves contain book 24, chs. 11-12 from the Moralia. They are so close in style to the great Luxeuil Augustine in the Morgan Library, New York (M 334, dated 669), that they probably date within the seventh century. literature B. Bischoff and V. Brown, 'Addenda to Codices Latini Antiquiores', Mediaeval Studies 47 (1985), pp.350-51, "present whereabouts are unknown"
Estimated Price GBP 100,000.00 - 150,000.00
( USD 168,000.00 - 252,000.00 )
Actual Price GBP 97,250.00 ( USD 149,765.00 )



Auction House Sothebys
Auction Name The History of Script: Sixty Important Manuscript Leaves from the Schøyen Collection
Sale Number #L12242
Auction Date July 10, 2012 - July 10, 2012
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