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Walters Ms. W.200, Alphabet Book
The medieval alphabet is illuminated in two different styles. Without any accompanying text, the original purpose of the book remains unclear, but scholars have suggested that it was a sample or model book for manuscript illuminators, or that it was intended as a gift. The book was rebound in the eighteenth century, and in the same century extensive notes, which have since been erased, were made alongside the initials.
Ca. 16th century CE
Paris, France (?)
No linguistic content; Not applicable
Thick, cream-colored parchment of very smooth and fine preparation; antique laid paper flyleaves
Flyleaves have been foliated with the exception of the first leaf; front flyleaf vii (foliated as fol. 6) is eighteenth century parchment
Formula: Quire 1: 5 (flyleaf i-fol. 5v); Quires 2-7: 4 (fols. 7r-30v); Quire 8: 6 (fols. 30*r-35v, first folio has been double foliated as 30)
Comments: Fol. 6 was added as a flyleaf, hooks around Quire 2; at least one quire has been removed between Quires 7 and 8
9.5 cm wide by 11.9 cm high
- Title: Alphabet Book
- Decoration note: Twenty-four illuminated letters of the medieval alphabet (excludes J and V) in two alternating styles; Style 1: found on fols. 7v-8r, 9v-10r, etc.; stylistically tied to French 16th century illuminations; blue or rose initials with white patterning, ending in blue, orange, or rose foliate terminals, outlined in black, on black-outlined backgrounds of burnished and/or liquid gold, two or four green disks in corners of the background, infill of naturalistic flowers and fruits; Style 2: found on fols. 8v-9r, 10v-11r, etc.; stylistically tied to Dutch 15th century initials; burnished gold intials with lobed terminals, outlined in black, backgrounds in blue and deep red with white foliate patterning, floral motifs in some infills with lead tin yellow and malachite green detailing; Impression from a rectangular plaque in the front endleaves, showing a seated nimbed figure, possibly the Virgin Mary and Christ child
The binding is not original.
Rebound in France, eighteenth century; pink brocade with floral and zig-zag striped patterning over boards, sewn on five bands; gilt edges; antique white paper pastedowns and first/last flyleaves, decorated with alternating rows of gold six-pointed asterisks and dots, turned green at edges, paper with matching pattern pasted over bottom 1.5-2cm on front and back boards and flyleaves, which conceal an inscription in capital letters; paper tag printed "83" at bottom of spine; green silk ribbon marker
Created in the sixteenth century, likely in Paris
Rebound in eighteenth century France, truncated watermark on fol. 33 with date '1743'
Obliterated note in cursive hand on fol. 1r, likely eighteenth century
Note in dark brown ink, partly effaced "J... 609." on flyleaf iv, likely eighteenth century
Léon Gruel collection, Paris, late nineteenth or early twentieth century; note in pencil "... 1183" on flyleaf iv; Gruel and Engelmann bookplate inscribed 'No. 1183'
Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Gruel between 1895 and 1900
Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest
Loftie, W. J. Lessons in the Art of Illuminating, vol. 1. London, after 1874, p.4-7.
De Ricci, Seymour. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p.828, no. 423.
Fruit and Flowers, Baltimore, Baltimore Museum of Art (1961), no. 4, illus. p.3 (fol. 8r).
Oliver, J. "Medieval Alphabet Soup: Reconstruction of a Mosan Psalter-Hours in Philadelphia and Oxford and the Cult of St. Catherine," Gesta 24/2 (1985): 138.
Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 2, Part 2. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992, pp. 643-644, app. 1.
Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.
Cataloger: Vinson, Aubrey
Editor: Herbert, Lynley
Copy editor: Dibble, Charles
Conservator: Quandt, Abigail
Contributors: Emery, Doug; Han, Yuna; Tabritha, Ariel; Vinson, Aubrey; Wiegand, Kimber
The Walters Art Museum
Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.