BEINECKE RARE BOOK AND MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
GENERAL COLLECTION OF RARE BOOKS AND
MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE MANUSCRIPTS
Beinecke MS 409 Italy, 1467
Psalms, Job, Proverbs (in Hebrew)
We thank D. Ruderman for his assistance with the text.
1. ff. 1r-2r ruled, but blank; ff. 2v-108v Psalms, with divisions at 42, 73,
90 and 107. ff. 109r-110r ruled, but blank
2. ff. 110v-152v Job.
3. ff. 153r-187v Proverbs. Colophon at conclusion of text, translated:
"[erasure, presumably name of scribe] scribe, as a donkey, I wrote this Psalms,
Job and Proverbs to Signor Jacob, may he see progeny and may his days be
lengthened, the son of the distinguished rabbi Benjamin, may the Rock and
Redeemer protect him, from Montalcino, and I received payment for my work in
several installments up to the present day 5 July 5227 .
Parchment, iii (paper) + 187 + iii (paper), 111 x 80 (61 x 41) mm., trimmed,
16 long lines. Ruled in light brown ink; single vertical bounding lines,
I-XVII^^10, XVIII^^8, XIX^^8 (+ 1 leaf added at end, f. 187).
Written in cursive Italian Hebrew script, with square initial letters; cf. B.
Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts (Jerusalem, 1969) p. 55.
The extremely fine decoration of MS 409 is in the Florentine style of the
third quarter of the fifteenth century. M. Levi d'Ancona has associated the
Beinecke manuscript with a group of manuscripts executed by Antonio di Niccolo
di Lorenzo (1445-1527), including a Breviary dated 1470 in Florence (Riccardiana
284) and a Book of Hours in the Victoria and Albert Museum (George Reid MS 63).
Cf. Sotheby's, Cat. 9, July 1969, no. 63 and M. Levi d'Ancona, Miniatura et
miniatori a Firenze (Florence, 1962) pp. 19-20, pl. II. According to A. C.
de la Mare, however, the artist of this manuscript is Mariano del Vuono who also
executed Beinecke MS 284. Compare also Jerusalem (Israel Museum, Bezalel MS 180/55).
Two full-page miniatures: f. 2v David beheading Goliath (Psalms) and f. 110v
Job on the dunghill, with the three tempters. Miniatures accompanied by
elegantly illuminated full borders of pink and blue flowers with green stems
and yellow fruit issuing from yellow vases; gold dots and hair-spray. Putti
and brightly colored birds appear among foliate ornamentation. Polylobed and
circular medallions in borders: f. 2v David in prayer, David as king,
animals; f. 110v Destruction of Job's flock; f. 153r Judgment of Solomon,
antelope (Proverbs). Other borders, without miniatures, contain medallions of
busts of prophets, some holding scrolls: f. 52r (Psalm 73), f. 67r (Psalm 90), f. 80r
(Psalm 107), f. 111r (Job). Border without medallions: f. 30v (Psalm 42).
Borders of ff. 30v, 80r, 111r are less carefully executed than rest of
illumination and may be by another artist. The opening word of Psalms 42, 73,
90 and 107, as well as of Job and Proverbs, occurs in a panel with foliate
borders in burnished gold. First letter in each chapter of Psalms, and first
word in each chapter of Job and Proverbs framed in red or blue (one in gold, f.
111r) with purple or red penwork flourishes.
Binding: s. xvii. Red calf over beech boards, gold-tooled with a floral
border and flower vases and arabesques in the center. Gilt, gauffered edges and
woodblock paste paper endleaves and pastedowns.
Written in 1467 (see colophon in art. 3), presumably in Florence, for Jacob,
son of Rabbi Benjamin of Montalcino. For Rabbi Benjamin and his family, see U.
Cassuto, Gli Ebrei a Firenze nell'eta del Rinascimento (Florence, 1918)
p. 246, note 1. Early modern provenance otherwise unknown. Sotheby sale, 9 July
1969, no. 63, with plates of ff. 153r, 110v. Acquired from C. A. Stonehill in
1969 as the gift of Edwin J. Beinecke.
Bibliography: Exhibition Catalogue, pp. 232-33, no. 57.
B. Narkiss, Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts (Jerusalem, 1969) p. 39.
A. C. de la Mare, "The Library of Francesco Sassetti (1421-90)," Cultural
Aspects of the Italian Renaissance. Essays in Honor of Paul Oskar Kristeller,
ed. C. H. Clough (Manchester and New York, 1976) p. 197, note 81.
Barbara A. Shailor