MS. Douce 390
Summary Catalogue no.: 21965
Portolan charts ('The Douce Atlas'); Venice, early 15th century
Seven charts and two miniatures, drawn and written on parchment bifolia pasted onto wooden boards.
Full-sheet watercolour miniature of the Annunciation
Watercolour miniature of St Mark and St Paul, standing in niches, with angels above playing stringed instruments.
Charts with coasts shaded in green.
Each chart has a geometric border.
Rumb lines and more important locations in red.
Wooden boards, slightly thicker than those to which the vellum leaves of the manuscript are glued. 292 × 145 × 36 mm.
Each cover is delicately ornamented with inlays of white and green-stained ivory, with other inlays of pale brown, dark brown, and black woods, forming geometric patterns as in Italian tesselated pavements. A chevron border is often found on charts of the first half of the fourteenth century.
The atlas was kept within a wooden carrying case (MS. Douce 390*) covered with leather. This was formerly furnished with straps to fold the lid on and allow the case to be slung from the shoulder. The box is made of thin wood, lined inside with parchment stained pink. 299 × 183 × 52 mm.
The outside is covered in leather with 'cuir-ciselé' ornamentation, by which a sharp tool was used to emboss floral decoration and inscriptions in relief against a dotted background. The lid, similarly ornamented, bears three inscriptions in gothic lettering: ‘In dio haver ben’ (on top), ‘par bon amor’, and ‘per bone respecto’.
Provenance and Acquisition
Francis Douce, 1757–1834; his notes giving identifications and comparisons to other cartographic sources enclosed (MS. Douce 390**).
Bequeathed to the Bodleian with Douce's other books, manuscripts, prints, and drawings on his death in 1834.
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Last Substantive Revision
2020-12-01: Andrew Dunning New description.