14.02.05, Teviotdale, Das Sakramentar Von Beauvais: Commentary

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Scott G. Bruce

The Medieval Review 14.02.05

Teviotdale, Elizabeth C.. Das Sakramentar Von Beauvais: MS. Ludwig V 1, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles: Kommentar. Codices selecti: Commentarium 127. Graz: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 2011. Pp. 119. ISBN: 978-3-201-01946-0.

Reviewed by:
Scott G. Bruce
University of Colorado at Boulder

The so-called Sacramentary of Beauvais is a ten-leaf fragment of a deluxe early eleventh-century manuscript now housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California (MS Ludwig V 1). Lavishly decorated in gold and silver paint and boasting two figural scenes and plenty of interlacing ornamentation, the Getty fragment provides a rare and tantalizing glimpse of fine manuscript art from the early decades of Capetian France. The commentary under review accompanied the exquisite facsimile of these manuscript leaves produced by the Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) in Graz, Austria. [1] In this 51-page introduction to the Getty fragment (in English with an accompanying German translation), Elizabeth C. Teviotdale provides a brief and technical account of the modern history of the manuscript, its owners, and the circumstances surrounding its dismemberment and rebinding; a physical description of the leaves with particular attention to the materials and techniques used to create it; an analysis of the text of the sacramentary, its script and its illuminations; as well as a lengthy comparison of MS Ludwig V 1 to other manuscripts made by the same scribe and some closing comments regarding the most plausible patron of this work, its localization and the date of its creation.

The sacramentary of Beauvais was a liturgical manuscript that contained the prayers spoken by a priest during the celebration of the mass. The book began with the canon of the mass and continued with prayers that changed according to the occasion, starting with the first mass of Christmas (December 25) and ending with the Feast of Saint Thomas (December 21). The manuscript concluded with common prayers for different saints and the dedication of a church and with a mass in honor of the Trinity. The textual tradition of this sacramentary was mixed (Gelasianized-Gregorian): it comprised the early ninth-century text sent by Pope Hadrian I to Aachen at the request of Charlemagne and later amplified by Benedict of Aniane as well as mass prayers for saints in the Frankish Gelasian tradition and formularies for local Beauvais saints. Teviotdale notes that "[i]n the mixture of formularies for Gregorian, Gelasian, and local saints and in the mixed order of the texts, the sacramentary was typical of northern European sacramentaries of the tenth and eleventh centuries" (25). The manuscript seems to have survived the Middle Ages intact. In the last decades of the seventeenth century, canons of Beauvais cathedral described its contents and linked the work to "Roger of Champagne," that is, Bishop Roger of Beauvais (r. 998-1016), who had commissioned other liturgical texts of this quality. Unfortunately, by the early nineteenth century, the sacramentary had fallen into private hands. It was then, Teviotdale surmises, that a book dealer dismembered it to sell its finely decorated pages individually. Rev. Walter Sneyd (1809-1888) purchased the surviving ten leaves in the 1840s and his friend Lord Charles Thynne (1813-1894) painted stiff but accurate copies of its two major illuminations while it was in Sneyd's possession. Upon Sneyd's death in 1888, the leaves passed through the hands of several collectors, one of whom, C. W. Dyson Perrins (1864- 1958), had them bound in their present binding. The J. Paul Getty Museum acquired the bound leaves in 1983.

The ten medieval leaves of the Getty fragment were the work of an itinerant artist-scribe active in the decades around 1000 who was proficient with precious metals. From the evidence of other deluxe manuscripts written and adorned by the same hand, Teviotdale creates a compelling but unavoidably opaque portrait of his career: he had been trained in Milan but was primarily active north of the Alps; he specialized in luxury liturgical manuscripts featuring full-page images and painted initials in gold and silver; he was probably a layman or a secular cleric without a benefice; and he worked alone. While his "easy mobility" should not necessarily lead us to conclude that he was not in monastic orders, there is no way to know one way or the other (43). While the Getty fragment represents only "the opening gathering of the sacramentary and the third and sixth leaves of the fourth gathering" (20) of the original manuscript, the decoration of these surviving leaves provides vivid testimony of the virtuosity of the artist-scribe, particularly his depiction of a bearded Christ crucified between Mary and John in mourning on the opening T of the Te igitur (fol. 2v).

There can be little doubt, as Teviotdale argues, that Bishop Roger of Beauvais (998-1016) was the patron of this exquisite sacramentary. Upon his death, Roger endowed his cathedral with lands, a portable altar, and a suite of three lavishly decorated liturgical manuscripts (a pontifical, a benedictional and a sacramentary), which together represent "a calculated program to supply the cathedral with deluxe manuscripts for the use of its bishops" (48). The pontifical and the benedictional are now lost, but descriptions of them in early modern treasury inventories note that they too were written in gold and silver. Despite the fact that the Beauvais sacramentary is not described in these inventories alongside the other two manuscripts donated by Roger, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Getty leaves are all that remains of the bishop's generous endowment to his cathedral. The exact date of their creation remains open to question. Teviotdale suggests that Roger may have had the books made for the translation of the relics of Saint Lucien, Maxien and Julien in 1002 or perhaps to coincide with the royal act of 1015 that established the count-bishopric of Beauvais. There is admittedly no way to know for sure.

While there is much to admire in facsimile editions of beautiful manuscripts from the Middle Ages, such texts are so expensive that they are well out of reach of the budgets of individuals and most libraries as well. Unfortunately, this means that very few scholars will have access to Teviotdale's useful commentary on MS Ludwig V 1, unless ADEVA and the Getty Museum take the initiative to make an affordable softcover edition or PDF of this work available to scholars and libraries. They would be wise to do so, for access to this comprehensive introduction would only increase interest in these precious fragments of early Capetian manuscript painting.



1. TMR received only the commentary volume for review, which included a sewn color photocopy reproduction of the manuscript's medieval leaves. ADEVA specializes in high-end facsimiles of illuminated medieval manuscripts. The "Normalausgabe" of the MS Ludwig V 1 facsimile retails for 1,380.00 EUR. The limited "Echt-Goldausgabe," which reproduces the manuscript with real gold (23 carat) and silver pigments, costs significantly more (2,480.00 EUR). Both editions include the commentary under review. To my knowledge, it is not sold separately. For further information on these facsimiles, see www.adeva.com.

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Scott G. Bruce

University of Colorado at Boulder