MS 258
Description MS in Latin on vellum, Paris, France, ca. 1200, 204 ff. (complete), 28x20 cm, 2 columns, (19x12 cm), 55 lines in regular early Gothic book script of high grade and very good quality, by at least 3 scribes, marginal glosses within elegant triangular designs in an exquisite Gothic book script, authorities in narrow columns in outer margins in red, 1-line initials in blue or red sometimes with flourishes, 3-line Psalm initials in biblical text in dark blue or red with penwork, 18 4-to 16-line illuminated and 2 historiated initials in very elaborate and delicate designs of intertwined spiral stems with the heads of dragons and lions, lush leaves and clambering animals in colours, tracery and burnished gold, related to the finest MSS of the workshop of Ptolemy's Almagest (B.N. ms. lat. 16200), copied from an exemplar at St. Victor in Paris.
Binding Paris, France, ca. 1200, massive wooden boards with metal fittings, sewn on 5 thongs, with a 15th c. painting 21x13 cm of the Flight into Egypt by the Master of the Osservanza, deriving loosely from Fra Angelico's panel in the Museo di San Marco, Firenze. It is held in place by 4 strips of copper gilt, Romanesque Mosan work with repeated stamped impressions of a palmette within an arch, struck from stamps used in the workshop of Nicholas of Verdun and his circle in Köln (ca. 1181-1230). 4 metal gilt beaded-edged frames divided into rectangular compartments enclosing purple velvet, lower cover with red velvet. The original central enamel or ivory plaque was replaced by the present Master of the Osservanza panel in 1724.

The 4 square Mosan enamel cornerpieces, ca. 1200, showing the Evangelists' symbols, were removed by Major J.R. Abbey and sold at Sotheby's 16.5.1968:36 and 13.12.1979:4, and are now owned by Ronald Lauder, New York. The companion piece to the "Flight into Egypt" panel is the Master of the Osservanza "Dream of St. Joseph", cat. no. 11 in "Painting in Renaissance Siena: 1420-1500", exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1988-89. The Osservanza Master was one of the major Siennese painters of the first half of the 15th c.

Provenance 1. A major Monastic Library, France, shelfmarks "A.9" & "M.42", (until 18th c.); 2. D. Phillippus Fisens (or Tusens/Trisens) (1724); 3. William Gott, Leeds (18th-19th c.); 4. John Gott, Truro (1830-1906); 5. Sotheran: Bibliotheca Pretiosa 1907:301; 6. C.W. Dyson Perrins, no 79 and 25 (1907-1958); 7. Sotheby's 29.11.1960:102; 8. Major J.R. Abbey, London, JA. 7064, (1960-1969); 9. J.R. Abbey Will Trust, London (1969-1989); 10. Sotheby's 19.6.1989:3010. Deaccession May 2010.
Commentary The MS is a very early and accurate exemplar of the Great Gloss. It is in an unusually grand and luxury layout and of highest quality of script and illumination, strongly suggesting a production in one of the major monastic centres or cathedrals in or around Paris. The Psalms with the early gloss of Anselm of Laon, see MS 712.
Exhibited Conference of European National Librarians, Oslo. Sept. 1994.
Place of origin France
Dates ca 1200 AD