MS. Douce 185
Summary Catalogue no.: 21759
Homiliary; Germany (Westphalia), 14th century, first quarter, with additions
Fol. 1r blank.
Text continues from the preceding item.
Continuing the previous item, but added in a later fourteenth century hand: quire 13 (fols. 96–102) is a later replacement. Ed. Caillau, Opera omnia, 24.1 pp. 405.14–409.3
Rest of fol. 100va blank. Fols. 100vb-101rb ruled, blank. Fol. 101v-102r blank. Fol. 102va-b ruled, blank.
PL 38.999–1000, ending incomplete through loss of one leaf after fol. 105.
Cento: begins imperfect through loss of leaf before fol. 106, as Ps.-Augustine, Serm. 117 (PL 39.1977), followed at fol. 106va by Honorius of Autun's Speculum ecclesiae (PL 172.815 'Hodie namque rex celorum ... angelis sociare', PL 172.819 'Hec nativitas singularis ...' )
Cento: extract from Ps.-Augustine, Serm. app. 121 ( CPL 368.121, PL 39.1987) followed (fol. 108va) by an extract from Ps.-Fulgentius of Ruspe, serm. 36, beg. 'Facta est Maria fenestra celi...' (PL 65.899B-900).
CCSL 60.241–6; PL 42.1123–1125
PL 54.221–6 (varying in c. 7)
ut digni sumus cum ceteris sanctis, hic et in futuro ei cantare canticum nouum Amen
Cento, as Gregoire, 228 no. 16 (=Alan of Farfa, I.2b-e, Gregoire 139–40, although the analysis there differs in some details from that presented here)
Cf. Ps.-Augustine, Serm. Caillau I.9 (p. 29)
Ps.-Augustine, Serm app. 121 c. 2–4 (part) (PL 39.1988)
CPL 829; CCSL 91A, 899–903; PL 65.726–9
Rest of fol. 181ra-b blank; fol. 181v blank, ruled.
PL 171.364–8 (= PL 198.1772, as Peter Comestor, serm. 19) slightly abbreviated.
Rest of fol. 192vb blank.
Rest of fol. 194va blank; 194vb blank except for the rubric for following item.
Usually 2 columns of 15 lines, ruled space 180–5 × 140 mm.
Fols. 166–181 (quires 22–23) 17–19 lines, ruled space 195–210 × 140 mm. , partly above top line
Fols. 182–196 (quires 24–25): 20 long lines, ruled space 220 × 140 mm. , above top line, except for fols. 195–6, below top line, so 19 lines.
The main text was written in textualis formata by several hands, often to be distinguished only with difficulty; a full analysis is not attempted here.
Fols. 96ra-100va added by one hand in textualis formata, later fourteenth century.
"Important, fine and good miniatures, fine borders, historiated and other initials, many with fleuronnée work." (Pächt and Alexander i. 136, pl. X).
Space for initials not filled in.
The decoration, which is unfinished, was carried out in several campaigns. The more finished decoration is found in seven quires and comprises borders (in different styles), historiated initials and flourished initials by three professional illuminators. The first professional artist worked in quire 1 (fols. 2–7); his work has also been identified by Oliver in Baltimore, Walters Art Museum W. 148. The second artist, who is sometimes compared with the Willehalm Master, worked in the second quire (fols. 9–16). The remaining professional decoration is attributed to a third artist (styled by Dorothy Miner the 'Master of Douce 185' and by Oliver the 'Jesse Master'). He and assistants were responsible for the outer bifolium of the first quire and for quires 5–7, 14–15 and 20.
This decoration was supplemented by borders, historiated and decorated initials, and flourished and coloured initials added by a number of less skilled artists, assumed to be the nuns themselves, with noticeable differences in style and approach between quires.
For more detailed discussion, to which the present description is indebted, see Judith Oliver, ‘Too Many Cooks? The Multiple Hands in a German Convent Homilary (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Douce 185)’, in Manuscripts Changing Hands, ed. by Corine Schleif and Volker Schier, Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien, 31 (Wiesbaden: Harrossowitz Verlag in Kommission, 2016); and Judith Oliver, ‘Christmas Lessons in Word and Image in the Douce Homiliary’, Studies in Iconography, 37 (2016).
- Quire 1, fols. 1–8: historiated initial; borders; spaces left for 1-line flourished initials (except on fol. 8r-v where they are supplied)
- (fol. 1v) Full-page historiated initial A: Tree of Jesse
- Quire 2, fols. 9–16: historiated initial, borders, 1-line flourished initials.
- (fol. 12v) Historiated initial T, occupying two-thirds of the page: Annunciation
- Quires 3 and 4, fols. 17–32: later miniature and historiated initials; spaces for 1-line initials partly filled in with later coloured initials in red and blue.
- (fol. 17v) Miniature, one column: Angel with scroll ('Cras egrediemini ...'); below, prophet with scroll ('Paratus esto Israel...'); below, crowd of Israelites
- (fol. 23v) Historiated initial I, filling one column: priest at lectern
- (fol. 31v) 7-line historiated initial P: Mass, the elevation of the host, with hand blessing above
- Quires 5–7, fols. 33–56: borders, historiated and decorated initials, 1-line flourished initials, and a more elaborate flourished initial on fol. 48ra (four lines). Gables added later to the borders in quire 5.
- (fol. 33r) 7-line historiated initial S: the Visitation
- (fol. 35v) Full-page historiated initial N: Nativity (above), Education of the Virgin in the Temple (below); two nuns to left
- (fol. 37v) 7-line historiated initial L: Adoration of the Magi
- (fol. 38r) 8-line historiated initial I, filling half the column: Isaiah
- (fol. 39r) 7-line historiated initial E: Angel (above), Emperor Augustus (below)
- (fol. 39v) Historiated initial Q filling two-thirds of the page: Presentation (above); Christ in the Temple (below)
- (fol. 41v) 8-line decorated initial I (half the column width), interlace pattern on gold ground.
- (fol. 42r) 8-line historiated initial N: two angels above, and one to the left, with three haloed figures (possibly also angels), one kneeling, all with scrolls; probably the 'multitudo celestium agminum que gloriam deo caneret' described in Bede's sermon (cf. Oliver, 'Christmas lessons' 122 for a slightly different interpretation.)
- (fol. 44r) 9-line historiated initial I (half the column width): John the Evangelist with his eagle
- (fol. 44v) Historiated initial Q filling two-thirds of the page: Virgin and child enthroned, with angels and two nuns.
- (fol. 49va) 7-line historiated initial S: Nativity
- (fol. 51va) 9-line historiated initial A: upper compartment, two midwives offering the Virgin food ; lower compartment, bathing the Christ child; kneeling nun to the right side of the letter.
- (fol. 56va) 7-line historiated initial L: king enthroned with three vases
- Quire 8, fols. 57–63: 1-line coloured initials added, incompletely; spaces left for larger initials on fols. 60brb (sketch for a decorated initial added), 63vb.
- Quire 9, fols. 64–71: later borders; later historiated and decorated initials; later 1-line flourished and decorated initials.
- (fol. 64r) 7-line historiated initial N: identified by Oliver as prophets' vision of incarnation
- (fol. 65v) Historiated initial C filling two-thirds of the page: Nativity
- (fol. 67v) 6-line decorated initial Q: gold interlace pattern on red and blue ground
- Quire 10, fols. 72–9: later historiated initial; later 1-line coloured initials, fols. 72r-75r and 79v
- (fol. 77va) 6-line historiated initial D: Virgin and Child
- Quire 11, fols. 80–7: coloured initials added in places; 9-line space for a larger initial, fol. 82ra, with preparatory sketch.
- Quire 12, fol. 88–95: later historiated initials; later 3-line initials in gold; 1-line coloured initials added sporadically
- (fol. 88rb) 6-line historiated initial A: adoration of the Magi
- (fol. 93v) Full-page historiated initial P: adoration of the Magi
- Quire 13, fols. 96–102: coloured 1-line initials.
- Quires 14–15, fols. 103–117: borders, historiated initials, 1-line flourished initials, with larger and more elaborate flourished initials in gold, red, and blue, sometimes with purple and green, on fols. 108rb, 109va, 111vb, 113ra, 114rb, 115vb
- (fol. 103r): 7-line historiated initial G: vision of the Virgin and child in a star, seen by a prophet and three singing clerics.
- (fol. 110v): 5-line historiated initial U: prophet
- Quires 16–19, fols. 118–149: later large and elaborate flourished initials in gold, red and blue, fols. 121va, 125rb, 128rb, 131vb, 135va, 147rb; later decorated initial; 1-line coloured initials added, incompletely.
- (fol. 143v) 7-line decorated initial S: dragon-human hybrid on gold ground.
- Quire 20, fols. 150–157: borders, historiated initials, 1-line flourished initials.
- (fol. 150r): 7-line historiated initial A: the Virgin nursing the Christ child with kneeling nun.
- Quires 21–23, fols. 158–181: later historiated initial; later large and elaborate flourished initials in gold, red, and blue, fols. 158vb, 167vb, 171rb, 173rb; 1-line coloured initials added, incompletely; unfilled 9-line space for an initial, fol. 179ra.
- (fol. 163r): 9-line historiated initial I: bishop (possibly Fulgentius)
- Quires 24–25, fols. 182–196: later historiated and decorated initials; 1-line coloured letters added, incompletely.
- (fol. 182r): historiated initial A filling two-thirds of the page: angel with prophets (Isaiah and Jeremiah)
- (fol. 186r): 7-line decorated initial V
- (fol. 190v): 9-line historiated initial E: King Solomon (above), crowd of nuns (below)
- (fol. 193r): 8-line historiated initial S: Annuciation (?): angel (above), woman reading on seat (below)
- (fol. 193v): 7-line decorated initial: grotesque (bird with female head) on gold ground.
- (fol. 195r): historiated initial Q filling two-thirds of the page: death and assumption of the Virgin.
Sixteenth-century binding; blind-tooled white leather over boards, sewn on four double/split bands, with two clasps.
Provenance and Acquisition
Earlier scholarship localized the volume on art-historical grounds to the upper Rhine or area of Lake Constance (Pacht and Alexander i.136; Douce Legacy no. 242), but it is now associated with Westphalia, partly because of its relationship to Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS. W. 148 (see below) and partly because of stylistic similarities between the 'Jesse master' and contemporary painting from Cologne. Dating to the first quarter of the fourteenth century is suggested by Oliver on art-historical grounds.
The volume was written and decorated for and/or by a community of nuns illustrated at various points in the manuscript, whose habit included a white wimple with a single red cross. General parallels for such crosses have been found among Cistercian and Premonstratensian nuns in parts of Germany, with Oliver suggesting a close parallel with the depiction of Augustinian canonesses in a gradual from Erfurt ('Christmas lessons', 127–8).
The manuscript is probably a companion volume to Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS. W.148, an illustrated homiliary for Eastertide. Both volumes have sixteenth-century bindings in identical style; they share an artist; and they are closely comparable in format and script.
Francis Douce, 1757–1834: bought by him in June 1831 from Payne and Foss (see Douce Legacy, no. 242); price '15.15.0' on fol. ii verso.
Bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1834
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Last Substantive Revision
2021-02-11: New draft description for Polonsky German digitization project.