15.10.17, Hourihane, ed., Manuscripta Illuminata

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Alison Stones

The Medieval Review 15.10.17

Hourihane, Colum, ed. Manuscripta Illuminata: Approaches to Understanding Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. Index of Christian Art: Occasional Papers, XVI. Princeton: Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, 2014. pp. 287. ISBN: 9780983753735 (paperback).

Reviewed by:
Alison Stones
University of Pittsburgh
mastones@hotmail.com

This is the last in the memorable series of Occasional Papers from conferences held at the Index of Christian Art during the directorship of Colum Hourihane, who retired in 2014. This volume commemorates the publication in 2013 of the monumental two-volume catalogue of Princeton manuscripts by Don C. Skemer and his Princeton collaborators. [1] Thirteen contributors (ten from American institutions, three from Europe) participated in the 2013 conference whose focus was entirely on manuscripts. Many essays take a Princeton manuscript as a point of departure: Elizabeth Moodey presents a new acquisition,the prayer-book now MS 223 in the Princeton University Library (UL), as the focus for a discussion of grisaille in northern manuscripts of the fifteenth century; Anne Rudloff Stanton draws upon the Tewkesbury Psalter, Princeton UL MS 34,in her discussion of Gothic prayerbooks; Don C. Skemer discusses the verse epitaph by John Shirwood for John Sowthel, canon of Exeter Cathedral, c.1462, part of a miscellany of texts and epitaphs in Latin and Middle English contained in MS Taylor 22, some of which are illustrated with death imagery associated with contemporary imagery of transi tombs and vividly evoked in words in Shirwood's epitaph. Patricia Stirnemann examines the superb miniatures and minor decoration in the Suetonius at Princeton, Kane MS 44, attributed to the Vitae imperatorum Master; Lucy Freeman Sandler uses the "homeless" psalter, Princeton UL Garrett 35, as a case-study to show how an anonymous artist adapted and modified standard patterns of iconography and what Sandler terms "facture" to expand the potential for meaning in images; Virginia Reinburg examines a book of hours printed in 1501 by Antoine VĂ©rard, Princeton UL ExI5942.247.11, and a manuscript book of hours, Garrett 56, to open a discussion of evidence for practices of ownership and use contained in devotional books in the late Middle Ages. Adelaide Bennett focuses on a diminutive book of hours of the fourteenth century in Princeton University Art Museum, MS 2010-115, owned, as its heraldry indicates, by members of the Chambly, Ronquerolles, Basentin, and Fiennes families, the presence of whose shields serve to underline the social and genealogical function of their devotional book.

The other essays in this collection expand the range of material to books from the Ottonian Holy Roman Empire (Hans Mayr-Harting), books made in France around 1400 with the Rohan Master and his circle (Stella Panayotova), narrative sequences in Hebrew manuscripts (Marc Michael Epstein), the manuscripts of Guillaume de Tignonville's Dits moraux des philosophes (Walter Cahn), mentions of books in medieval wills (Richard and Mary Rouse), the Netherlandish blockbook of the Canticum canticorum (Marilyn Aaronberg Lavin). The essays are followed by a general index and an index of manuscripts.

The volume is handsomely produced with most of its illustrations in good quality colour. It makes a fitting tribute to the magnificent catalogue of Princeton manuscripts and a worthy epilogue to the remarkable set of publications edited by Colum Hourihane at the Index of Christian Art.

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Note:

1. Don C. Skemer, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Princeton University Library, incorporating contributions by Adelaide Bennett, Jean F. Preston, William P. Stoneman, and the Index of Christian Art (Princeton, NJ: Department of Art and Archaeology and the Princeton University Library in association with Princeton University Press, 2013), 2 vols.

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