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Psalter with Passion readings – Fragment

Parchment · bifolium · 1440 – 1483 CE · Italy, perhaps Naples · 172 x 127 mm


Dunedin, Dunedin Public Libraries Heritage Collection, RMM Fragment 26
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Maggs Bros (Seller)
Reed, Alfred Hamish (Previous Owner)
Origin: Italy

The bifolium is from a Psalter written by Pietro Ursuleo of Capua (d. 1483), a priest and bishop of Satriano in Calabria from 1474 to 1483. It was purchased from Maggs Bros in October 1959. There are a further two leaves in the collection (RMM Fragments 32a and 32b). The fragments are probably all from a Psalter once in the library of John Boykett Jarman (1782-1864), auctioned by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge 13-14 June 1864 (lot 161). A twin manuscript, also written by Pietro Ursuleo, is preserved (Cambridge: Trinity College, MS. O.7.46).

Contents: Psalms 43-44, 55-57. Psalm numbers added in the margins in ink in a later hand.

Leaf 1: end of Psalm 43: 25-26 (closing entreaty to God); Psalm 44: 1-18.

Leaf 2: Psalm 55: 9-13 (opening abruptly at David's strident denunciation of his enemies); Psalm 56: 1-12; opening of Psalm 57: 1-3.

Script: Fine and well-formed humanistic minuscule, slightly clubbed, with generous word separation. Consistent punctuation and  abbreviations confined to commonly occurring words.

Decoration: Psalm openings have 2-line initials painted brown and intertwined with white vine-stem interlace, set against particoloured ground of blue, crimson and green. Versal initials in maroon or blue alternately, decorated with brown or violet pen work, now faded. Rubrics in maroon.