Digital Commonwealth

Ferial psalter : in Latin. Vol. I

Item Information

Ferial psalter : in Latin. Vol. I
Title (uniform):
The first volume of a two-volume ferial psalter produced ca. 1495. This psalter was part of a larger group of 14 choirbooks commissioned by the Benedictine monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza, Italy during the last quarter of the 15th century. The complete set of choirbooks was used continuously at the monastery for approximately 300 years. Within the context of the original group of choirbooks, the present manuscript is sometimes referred to as "Antiphonal 7." As of 2012, the second volume is privately owned. See Overty, Appendix 1 for a complete list of the choirbooks and their current locations, if known.
Matteo, da Milano, active 1492-1523
Master of the Graduals of San Salvatore in Pavia
First Master of the Choir Books
Former owner:
Affaticati, Benedetto
Former owner:
Cavaleri, Michael
Former owner:
Cernuschi, Enrico
Former owner:
Kann, Maurice
Former owner:
Forrer, Robert, 1866-1947
Former owner:
Hess, Julius
Catholic Church
Former owner:
Karl W. Hiersemann (Firm)
Former owner:
Jacques Rosenthal (Firm)
Former owner:
San Sisto (Church : Piacenza, Italy)
[ca. 1495]
Manuscripts, Latin (Medieval and modern)
Manuscripts, Medieval
Furniture (Binding)
Clasps (Binding)
Catches (Binding)
Wooden boards (Binding)
Gothic scripts
Boston Public Library
Rare Books Department
Collection (local):
Medieval and Early Renaissance Manuscripts (Collection of Distinction)
ItalyEmilia-Romagna (region)Piacenza (province)Piacenza
190 leaves : parchment, ill. ; 600 x 425 (425 x 300) mm.
Terms of Use:
No known copyright restrictions.
No known restrictions on use.
Place of origin:
Notes (ownership):
Provenance: This psalter is described in the 16th-century San Sisto library inventory as "Psalterium magnum nocturnum signat. 12" (Bollati, pp. 41-43). In 1810, when the Napoleonic decree suppressing religious orders reached the monastery, the set of 14 choirbooks to which the present manuscript belongs were hidden in the attic of the family home of a monk named Benedetto Affaticati. They were sold by one of his descendents in 1864 to private collector Michele Cavaleri. Cavaleri sold the manuscripts to Enrico Cernuschi, who transported the manuscripts to Paris, where they remained until his death in 1896. A small paper label in the upper left corner inside the front cover, possibly dating from this period, numbers this manuscript "4" (the same label is found in BPL MS pf Med. 120). Another early shelfmark inside the front cover reads "III.15". After Cernuschi's collection was sold in 1897 by Hiersemann, the location of the choirbooks was lost (see Overty, p. 151). The present manuscript resurfaced when it was sold by Jacques Rosenthal in 1902 (cat. 27, no. 73 with plate) to Maurice Kann of Paris, who sold the manuscript in 1913 to R. Forrer of Strassburg (German notes inside front cover presumably his).
Notes (acquisition):
Immediate source of acquisition: Purchased in May, 1940, from Julius Hess (Bern), his cat. 1 (1935), no. 5.
Notes (citation):
Bond, W.H. Supplement to the Census of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts in the United States and Canada, page 210
Bibliography: "Library notes: exhibition of illuminated manuscripts." More Books/Boston Public Library Quarterly XV (1940): 385; Alexander, Jonathan James Graham. "Matteo da Milano, Illuminator." Pantheon 50 (1992): 41-42; Bollati, Milvia. I corali benedettini di San Sisto a Piacenza. Bologna, 2011; Filippone Overty, Joanne. "Reconstructing the Monastic Choir Books of San Sisto in Piacenza." Rivista di Storia della Miniatura 14 (2010): 151-162; Secular/Sacred: 11th-16th-Century Works from the Boston Public Library and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Edited by Nancy Netzer. Chestnut Hill: Boston College, 2006. 26; Sutton, K. "The San Sisto Choirbooks." Christie's London, 12 November 2008, lots 38-46. Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections. Edited by Jeffrey Hambuger, et al. Chestnut Hill: Boston College, 2016. 226. See Bollati and Overty for additional, earlier bibliography.
In Latin.
Ms. codex.
Bibliographic record created by BPL staff based on description by Dr. Lisa Fagin Davis.
Origin: Commissioned by the Benedictine monastery of San Sisto in Piacenza in the last quarter of the 15th century and written in Italy ca. 1495.
The Master of the Graduals of San Salvatore in Pavia was active in the late 15th and early 16th centuries and is named for two choir books (Pavia, City Museum, mss. 544 and 545) that he illuminated for the Pavian monastery of San Salvatore (Bollati, p. 55). Work represented in the present manuscript: fol. 1, 29v, 38, 62, 109, 132. / The First Master of the Choir Books of San Sisto -- previously known as the "Bernardo Master" for a portrait of the monk Bernardo he painted in one of the San Sisto graduals -- is so named because he worked on five of the San Sisto choir books: Graduals 1, 2, 3, and 5 as well as both volumes of the present Psalter (Bollati, pp. 61 fol.). Work represented in the present manuscript: fol. 73v, 178, 188. / Matteo da Milano is documented at the Ferraran court of the Este family from 1502-1535. This manuscript and its sister Psalter thus represent some of his earliest identified work (see Bollati, p. 58, and Alexander). Work represented in the present manuscript: fol. 3, 4v, 6, 10, 13v, 16, 21, 27v, 46v, 49, 90, 97, 98, 100, 102, 117, 120v, 127, 135, 144v, 150, 153, 160v, 167, 173v, 199.
Notes (object):
Secundo folio: ... sponse decus ...
Collation: Parchment, fol. 190 ; i²⁺¹ (fol. 3 is a singleton) 1-10⁸ (lacking folios 81-89, i.e. a gathering of 8 and the first leaf of gathering 11) 11⁸⁻¹ 12⁸⁻¹ (fol. 96 lacking) 13-14⁸ 15⁸⁻¹ (fol. 116 lacking) 16⁸⁻² (fol. 121 and 128, i.e. the outermost bifolium, lacking) 17-18⁸ 19⁸⁻³ (fol. 148, 149 and 151 lacking) 20⁸⁻⁴ (fol. 155-158 lacking) 21-26⁸ 27⁶⁺¹ (final leaf, [207], is a singleton) ; original arabic foliation in black ink, lower right rectos, slightly later roman foliation in alternating blue and red capitals in upper margin of each recto, all added before losses, beginning with "1" on fol. 4; those numbers used here for reference.
Layout: Single column, 15 lines. Bounding and ruling lines in blind or light plummet, square notation on a four-line staff.
Script: Written in a gothic rotunda in black ink with red rubrics.
Decoration (primary): Eight-line historiated initial "B" on fol. 1 in gold and colors showing King David in the upper compartment and St. Jerome in the lower compartment, with medallion borders in the outer and lower margins containing portraits of Saints Felix, Timothy, Simphorian, Marcellus, Apuleius, Sixtus, Benedict, and Fabian. Over 100 two- to four-line initials in gold and colors throughout, 26 of which are attributed to Matteo da Milano, three to the First Master of the Choir Books of San Sisto, and six to the Master of the Graduals of San Salvatore in Pavia (consult description by Lisa Fagin Davis for full account).
Decoration (secondary): Single-line initials throughout for versals, blue with red filigree or red with purple.
Binding: Later diced leather over original wooden boards, rebacked, with original brass bosses, cornerpieces, decorative hardware, and edge guards intact. Rebacking and clasp straps in later shagreen.
Table of Contents:
1. fol. 1: blank.
2. fol. 1v-2: Slightly later additions: In fe[st]o s[ancto] p[ro] n[octurno]. Benedicti ad nocturno/ Quicquid antique caecinere.. ...
3. fol. 2v: blank.
4. fol. 3-207v: Ferial psalter with hymns, for matins and lauds of each day of the week (Psalms 1-108, with additional material as necessary) (the remaining hours would have been assigned to the Psalms in volume 2): Feria ii[a] ad primam a[ntiphona] Servite domino. Psalmus/ Beatus vir que non ... / ... Laudate vestrum principem omnes beati ad perditi. vivi imbecilli ac mortui. iam nemo post hac mortuus. Gloria tibi domine.
Ms_pf_Med97_001 - Ms_pf_Med97_388
Call #:
RARE BKS MS pf Med. 97
MS 1524 (no longer used)