Collection of leaves from medieval manuscripts, including one from an early copy of Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs, in Latin, on vellum [twelfth to fifteenth century]
3,000 - 5,000 GBP
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ten leaves (including 2 bifolia): (a) two substantial fragments of a single leaf from a monumental Italian Lectionary (with readings from the end of Augustine on John, Tractatus 11, chs.13-15 and the opening of Gregory the Great, Homilies on the Gospels II:40), 300mm. by 208mm., and 295mm. by 210mm., with one large 11-line red variegated initial, remains of double column, 39 lines in a fine rounded bookhand (approximately 4 lines lost at top of leaf), rubrics in red, capital part-filled in red, some initials set in margin, Italy, first half of the twelfth century; (b) leaf from Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs, nos.xl-xli, 230mm. by 160mm., with one simple red initial with red baubles at its foot and head, followed by a few words in alternate red and penwork capitals, single column, 30 lines, small red initial on verso, followed by single word in capitals touched in red, wide margins remaining, Germany or northern France, mid-twelfth century; (c) bifolium from a Bible (Jeremiah, v-vii, xxviii-xxix), each leaf 330mm. by 235mm., 6 initials in red or blue with elaborate contrasting penwork, double column, 50 lines in spiky angular script, France, late thirteenth century, but in Germany by 1610/11 when reused as binding for an account book for “Rödelheim”, Frankfurt am Main; (d) two leaves from a Lectionary, each 300mm. by 185mm., double column, 27 lines, capitals touched in red, one large blue initial, probably France, early thirteenth century; (e) bifolium from a large Legendary, each leaf 390mm. by 260mm., double column, 40 lines, rubric in red, one red initial with blue penwork, Italy, fourteenth century; (f) leaf from a Lectionary, 270mm. by 35mm., double column, 26 lines, 5 red initials, Germany, first half of fifteenth century; all recovered from bindings and somewhat defective
Item (b) is from a notably early copy of the Sermons on the Song of Songs by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the Middle Ages and the founder of Clairvaux Abbey (1112) as well as sixty-five other Cistercian houses. The text sets out to interpret the problematic Song of Songs as an allegorical expression of the spiritual marriage between the human soul and Christ. It was remarkably popular, and some hundreds of manuscripts survive (Stegmüller, Repertorium, II, no.1721 lists 99 manuscripts, and the critical edition is based on 111). The present leaf is of especial note as written within the author’s lifetime or in the years immediately following.