A Leaf of Deuteronomy from ‘Otto Ege Manuscript 14’ in the Rosenbrook Collection

February 8, 2022 in Manuscript Studies, Uncategorized

Brent Rosenbrook Collection, Leaf from Ege Manuscript 14, ‘Recto’ (original Verso), top: Running title.

An Old Testament Leaf
from ‘Otto Ege Manuscript 14’
with part of Deuteronomy
in the Rosenbrook Collection

Large-format Latin Vulgate Lectern Bible
made in France
late 13th- or early 14th century

Single Leaf within a matted frame
Double columns of 50 lines

Maximum measurements circa 16 1/8″ × 10 11/16″ <written area circa 11″ × 7 3/8″>

Deuteronomy 11:21 ([quam iuravit] /) dominus patribus)
– 14:15 (strutionem ac noc-(/tuam et larum])

With bichrome running titles and chapter numbers,
polychrome decorated initials and border ornament with geometric and foliate motifs,
and added lection marks

[Posted on 8 February 2022, with updates]

Virginia Lazenby O’Hara Fine Books Division, Dallas Public Library, Framed Leaf from Otto Ege MS 14, ‘Recto’ (original Verso).

Brent Rosenbrook Collection, Matted Leaf from Otto Ege Manuscript 14, ‘Recto’ (original Verso).

Continuing the series of posts for our blog on Manuscript Studies, Mildred Budny describes another leaf from ‘Otto Ege Manuscript 14’, a large-format copy on vellum of the full Latin Bible in the Vulgate Version.

A leaf from this manuscript recently reached the collection of Brent Rosenbrook, who generously sent images and information about it, in response to the blogpost reporting More Discoveries for ‘Otto Ege Manuscript 14’.

A similar response several months ago brought to our attention the Dallas Leaf from the same manuscript, now kept at the Virginia Lazenbury O’Hara Fine Books Division of the Dallas Public Library in the City of Dallas, Texas. A report of that leaf, which carries the end of the Book of Joshua and the beginning of Judges in the Old Testament portion of the manuscript, appears in our blog on A Leaf in Dallas from ‘Otto Ege Manuscript 14’.

The ‘new’ leaf likewise comes from one of the early Books of the Old Testament. In the sequence, it stood one Book ahead.

Otto Ege Manuscript 14 and Manuscript Studies

Some discoveries for the manuscript have been reported in our blog.

See also The Illustrated Handlist (Number 4).

Brent Rosenbrook Collection, Leaf from Ege Manuscript 14, ‘Recto’ (original Verso), middle right: Deuteronomy 14 opens.

The Rosenbrook Leaf

When contacting me about the Leaf, its collector described the origins of his collecting spirit and the development of his book-collecting.

I wanted to give you a little bit of backstory and brief history. I am a layman in this field but have always been a collector of things since my childhood. I was a bibliophile long before I ever heard the term or would have understood its meaning. And although I am new to collecting illuminated manuscripts, I have always felt drawn to the beauty of them. As a teenager and young man I was especially stuck by the intricate, amazing imagery and knotwork in the Book of Kells. In 1998 I was fortunate to have visited Trinity College in Dublin and see it firsthand along with other books on display. It was a moment of wonder to finally be in the presence of that book. Although I never lost that sense of awe, for the next many years that was the extent of my experience and attention concerning manuscripts.

In December of 2016 my wife and I were visiting a friend’s home for the holidays when I noticed on the wall a large framed musical page of some sort. I could tell that it was hundreds of years old, handwritten, on animal skin. He knew little about it other than it belonged to a relative down the line and that at some point it was gifted to him. It was of course an antiphonal as I later discovered by searching online. It was (is) likely early 16th century and had one very large, but simple rubricated initial. Although it wouldn’t be considered elaborate or rare to a person knowledgeable in such things, for me the affect was basically “Wow, that’s really cool. I’ve got to figure out what that is. I want one of those”. The collector bug bit me again. . . .

Brent Rosenbrook Collection, Leaf from Ege MS 14, ‘Verso’ original Recto), bottom left.

My interest and enjoyment of looking at and learning about illuminated manuscripts (especially Bibles with historiated and zoomorphic initials) grew as I visited multiple websites over many weeks and scrolled through countless images of various western manuscripts. In March 2017 I acquired my first true illuminated leaf when I bid on and (unexpectedly) won a large Bible leaf which was from a manuscript previously owned by the famous collector Chester Beatty. As far as the Otto Ege leaf, it was a spontaneous purchase.

I received a notification . . . when this page was listed recently by Rodger Friedman Rare Book Studio. It wasn’t on my radar (or necessarily in the budget) to make a purchase but after glancing at the listing throughout the day I committed to buying it. I only knew the name Otto Ege vaguely through my reading up on manuscripts.

When I received the package and saw the leaf for the first time it evoked a lot of emotion. Although I knew its measurements when I purchased it, I still wasn’t prepared for the size and beauty of seeing it firsthand – it is stunning. It was only in the last few weeks after this acquiring this that I began reading up on and watching video postings about this famous biblioclast and the sets he sold off. . . . It was just this past Thursday night when I came across the RGME website and decided to reach out to you.

As for the Leaf itself, the collector reports that “It remains in the original matting that Ege used when he compiled these books.” Thus, this specimen qualifies for the group of survivors from the manuscript which circulated on their own, as a ‘Rogue Leaf’. Many of them traveled within one of Ege’s standard mats of a uniform size, accompanied by Ege’s printed Label giving a generic description of his Leaf 14. They resemble the presentation designed for specimen leaves from various manuscripts in Ege’s ‘FOL’ Portfolio of Fifty Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts, in which leaves from the dismembered Lectern Bible have the position of Number 14.

Now, with the collector’s permission, the Leaf might begin to assume its place within the virtual Reconstruction of the manuscript, as known from its fragments.  Brent Rosenbrook observes:

I think it’s nice for others to know that there are those who aren’t necessarily part of academic institution but still would like to contribute what they can to the advance of manuscript study.

We greatly admire this view!

A Note on the Photographs of the Leaf 

The images here show the Leaf and its details under several forms of light, taken at different times and at different angles. Their variety shows multiple aspects, including some 3-dimensional features which views at an angle can reveal of the curvature of the surface(s) of the animal skin and the furrows of the ruled lines upon it in drypoint.

Read the rest of this entry →