Book Series Studies and Texts, vol. 221

Beyond Words

New Research on Manuscripts in Boston Collections

Lisa Fagin Davis, Anne-Marie Eze, Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Nancy Netzer, William P. Stoneman

  • Pages: xxxii + 361 p.
  • Size:228 x 304 mm
  • Illustrations:91 b/w, 200 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-221-5
  • Hardback
  • Available


Jeffrey F. Hamburger is the Kuno Francke Professor of German Art & Culture at Harvard University.

Lisa Fagin Davis is Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America.

Anne-Marie Eze is Director of Scholarly and Public Programs at Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Nancy Netzer is the Inaugural Robert L. and Judith T. Winston Director of the McMullen Museum of Art and Professor of Art History, Boston College.

William P. Stoneman was Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at Houghton Library, Harvard University.


In the fall of 2016 an international scholarly conference accompanied the exhibition Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections. The speakers were chosen because of their expertise and because they were known to have research underway pertaining to important manuscripts in the exhibition. The aim of both exhibition and conference was to provide a broad overview of the history of patronage and book production over the course of the High and late Middle Ages, to the extent that the eclectic holdings of Boston-area institutions permitted. Most of the papers delivered at the conference have been collected as essays in this abundantly illustrated volume which, while still linked to the exhibition, now has an independent purpose.

Just as the essays cover a wide range of topics, all relating to the history of the book, but also, inter alia, to the history of law, liturgy, literature, and libraries as well as to devotion, theology, and art, so too the approaches adopted by the contributors are as varied as the materials they study, ranging from paleography, codicology, and provenance research to painstaking reconstructions of historical patterns of patronage and the interpretative strategies of authors and artists. What results is not simply a wealth of fascinating insights into individual illuminated books, their makers, and their readers, but also an indication of how much remains to be learned about the materials to which the exhibition served as no more than an introduction.



List of Figures


Monastic Manuscripts
Gilbert de la Porrée: The Man and His Manuscripts • PATRICIA STIRNEMANN
Writing Culture and Society over the longue durée: The Charters of Sawley Abbey, from Medieval Yorkshire to Present-Day Harvard, Houghton Library • BRIGITTE MIRIAM BEDOS-REZAK
Boston Public Library MS q Med. 86 in the Context of Manuscript Production in Delft • KATHRYN M. RUDY

Courtly Culture and Patronage
Jean Bourdichon's Boston Hours and the Miniature-as-Object • NICHOLAS HERMAN
Rereading Boccaccio in Étienne Chevalier's Les cents nouvelles (Houghton Library, MS Richardson 31) • ANNE D. HEDEMAN
Picturing and Collecting Virgil in Mid-Fifteenth Century France • CHRISTINE SEIDEL
Vicarious Entertainment for the Mature Aristocrat and Bibliophile Louis of Gruuthuse (Houghton Library, MSS Typ 129 and 130) • SCOT McKENDRICK
Court Patronage in Renaissance Italy: Hercules in Illuminated Manuscripts Given as Diplomatic Gifts • FEDERICA TONIOLO

Princes, Patricians, Prelates, and Pontiffs
Illumination in Rome and L'Aquila during the Schism and in Florence during the Council: Artists and Patrons of the Calderini Pontifical (Harvard, Houghton Library, MS Typ 1) • FRANCESCA MANZARI
Niccolò da Ferrara's Polistorio (Houghton Library, MS Typ 329): New Proposals on Don Simone Camaldolese and Mantuan Artistic Culture on the Eve of the Renaissance • ADA LABRIOLA
Cristoforo Cortese and the Donato Master: Venetian Liturgical Manuscripts in American Collections • LILIAN ARMSTRONG
Illuminating Law and Order in Venice • HELENA K. SZÉPE

Illuminating History
Kings as Kin: Picturing the English Monarchy in Houghton Library, MS Typ 11 • ALIXE BOVEY
The Shapes of History: Houghton Library, MS Richardson 35 and Chronicles of England in Codex and Roll • SONJA DRIMMER
Hannibal's Journey: Ancient History, Material Philology, Medieval Illumination • JESSICA BERENBEIM

Manuscripts in the Modern Era
Medieval Manuscripts from the Collection of Captain Jack Ball • PETER KIDD

Index of Manuscripts
General Index