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The Legend of St. Elizabeth
Netherlands (Arnhem)
mid-15th century
€12.000 - €18.000

8vo (170 x 116 mm), decorated manuscript in Dutch, on vellum, 94 ff (plus 6 contemporary end-leaves, those including pastedowns), complete. Collation: i-xi8, xii6, foliated '1-94' in pencil, some remnants of original catchwords in tiny script, single column, 23 lines of an angular and prickly late gothic book-hand (written space 124 x 80 mm). Capitals touched in red, red paragraph marks, rubrics and 2-line simple initials, large initials in red or blue (that on frontispiece variegated in both) containing and terminating in elaborate curling penwork in contrasting colours. Contemporary repairs to fol. 6, 36, 54, 59 & 60 (flaws of the vellum), last end-leaf at front with vertical outer edge cut away, slight scuffing to first leaf of text, some small spots elsewhere, else in good and solid condition. Contemporary binding of blind-tooled dark brown leather with fleur-de-lys within chevrons on each board, two brass clasps, original end-bands present, but spine reinforced with vellum strip. Custom-made solander-box

"Provenance: 1. From the medieval library of the Augustinian nunnery of Bethany in Arnhem, which belonged to the Windesheim Congregation, the proponents of the Devotio moderna movement which stressed the humanity of Christ. The community seem to have supported themselves partly through the production of manuscripts, despite having had no resident miniaturist, and thus where miniatures are found in their books they are usually pasted-in illuminations or prints. The present volume has a fine ex libris in contemporary or near-contemporary calligraphic script on the recto of the first end-leaf: ""Liber santimonialium domus Bethanie iuxta arnhem in ducatu(m) gelrie"" (the Book of the monks/nuns of the house of Bethany outside Arnhem in the duchy of Guelders). The book was perhaps originally commissioned for the use of a nun of the community, who may have given it to a friend on her death, before its donation to the community's library: a Jutte Henricks' [dochter] adds a near-contemporary ownership inscription on the second front end-leaf, ""Dyt bough ys Jutte H[enri?]cks"", while another inmate named ""Suster Eelsken Willems [dochter]"" adds a further inscription at the end of the main text on fol.93r, there recording its gift to the library. 2. By the 17th- or 18th-century it had left the community and was owned by a Gerhard Bongard, who added his ex libris to the verso of first front end-leaf. It has no further marks of having been in the trade and may have been off the open market for the last two centuries. Ref. over het vrouwenklooster Bethaniƫ ('Domus B Mariae in Bethania') bij Arnhem, in het bisdom Utrecht: - K. Stooker, Th. Verbeij, Collecties op orde. Middelnederlandse handschriften uit kloosters en semi-religieuze gemeenschappen in de Nederlanden, 2 dl., Leuven 1997 (Miscellanea Neerlandica XV-XVI), dl.II, p. 51-52. - Wybren J. Scheepsma. Deemoed en devotie. De koorvrouwen van Windesheim en hun geschriften (1997): ""Het kopiƫren van geestelijke geschriften was in de opvatting van de moderne devoten een bijzonder geschikte vorm van handenarbeid. Enerzijds kreeg men zo de gelegenheid om goed voorziene bibliotheken op te bouwen en anderzijds was de kopiist ook tijdens de arbeidsuren voortdurend bezig met geestelijke literatuur."" ""In sommige Windesheimse vrouwenkloosters werd er ook 'pro pretio' oftewel voor geld gekopieerd."" ""Er moest wel enige zorgvuldigheid worden betracht, want alleen handschriften die op werkdagen werden geschreven, mochten worden verkocht"""