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les Enluminures

Psalterium Davidicum cantica et hymni. Ad lectorem tetrastichon Ioannis Gallinarii B. Accipe psalmographi divina poemata vatis, Accipe perpetua scripta notanda cedro, Ut parte aetherei post fata fruaris olimpi Hunc Davida legas vir juvenisque puer

In Latin and Dutch, illustrated hybrid book on paper
[Strasbourg]. MDXX [1520], R[enatus] Beck and Low Countries, diocese of Liege?, c. 1520-1530

TM 148

4o format, alternating print and manuscript [III]-114 ff. [printed] + ff. 1-37 [manuscript] + ff. 117-140 [printed] + ff. 38-64 [manuscript], lacking printed ff. 115-116, on paper, watermarks of printed section close to Briquet, “Couronne,” no. 4956 and 4960, Colmar, 1521 and 1523-1529 (Alsatian origin), watermarks of manuscript section close to Piccard, Wasserzeichen Hand und Handschuh (1997), no. 550-553 (Maastricht, Monheim, Rostock); Briquet, “Main,” no. 11406 and 11409 (Maastricht, 1528-1529), imprint in red and black, titlepage in red and black with woodcut border of decorative friezes, without printer’s device, contemporary foliotation in red, headings in red, rubrics in red, manuscript portion with text copied in a rounded gothic script large portions of text in manuscript section underlined in red ink, printed music staves hand-drawn in red ink, noted music filled in by hand in black ink, numerous printed initials in red, 1-5 line high painted initials and capitals in alternating red and blue in manuscript section, numerous strapwork initials traced in dark black ink highlighted in red and green, some with grotesques or floral motifs, 17 THREE TO SIX-LINE HIGH PEN-FLOURISH CALLIGRAPHIC DECORATED INITIALS, painted in red and blue some with ajouré motifs, infill of green, blue and yellow wash and burnished gold, delicate penwork in red ink, ONE THREE-QUARTER PAGE WOODCUT, colored by hand with woodcut borders of friezes with putti, flowers, grotesques and small drum, 7 WOODCUT HISTORIATED INITIALS, colored by hand with elaborate penwork and flourishing traced in red ink and extending in the margins of floral and foliate motifs highlighted in green, orange and blue wash, with gold besants. CONTEMPORARY BINDING of brown calf over wooden boards, back sewn on 4 raised thongs, roll-tooled in blind to a panel design with triple fillets with ornamental stamps in central frame and floral roll in intermediary frame, brass catches and clasps, edges stained in green, traces of leather tabs (For comparisons, see a similar binding described in Van der Vekene [2000], no. 9, p. 38-39, Dutch workshop, circa 1523-1530) (Fine general condition; restoration to binding [back redone]). Dimensions 160 x 220 mm.

Very rare post-incunable Alsatian imprint (only three other copies have been located), with extensive manuscript additions, illustrated, and in a contemporary binding. Following printing, the woodcuts were carefully hand-colored, penwork and richly decorated initials were added, along with rubrication, musical notation, and significant portions of manuscript text, much of it in Dutch. The added sections to this important hybrid book—watermarks, decoration, liturgical features and language--confirm that it was adapted for use in a Dutch- or Flemish-speaking female congregation possibly in the diocese of Liege (Maastricht?).


1.Strasbourg imprint, attributed to Renatus Beck (no colophon in this copy, no printer’s device). This is the second edition or reimpression of the original 1515 imprint with the same title and content (see Nouveau dictionnaire de biographie alsacienne, no. 3, p. 149; Ritter [1960], no. 3043; Schmidt IV, p. 26, no. 32; Stitzmann,[1909], I, pp. 106-107; [Exhibition Catalogue] (1988), René Beck, pp. 153-154).

2.The presence of extensive textual passages and rubrics in Dutch as well as certain characteristic Dutch saints in the litany, some most certainly identifiable with the Mosan-Limburg region, confirms that this book, although printed in Strasbourg, was completed soon after for use in the Low Countries in a female monastic context, probably in the diocese of Liege and possibly in Maastricht (watermarks for the manuscript portion confirm this localization; stylistic comparisons of the very delicate decorated initials and elegant penwork also suggest the exemplar was decorated in the Limburg region). The inclusion of the rare saint Dymphna, honored in the region of Hainault suggests the general axis of Hainault-Namur-Liège-Maastricht for the manuscript portion of this exemplar. The presence of sections devoted to the investiture of nuns and their profession of faith confirms the provenance of the manuscript portion for use in a female congregation.

3.Sixteenth-century inscription copied on verso of last leaf (f. 64v of manuscript portion of work): “IHS. MARIA. ANNA / Philippus Macedonio solebat istam doctrinam suo filo [sic] Alexandri Magno fradens ut non fideret istis qui se permiserant […] quia aurum vinxit omnibus armis sicut fulmen durissimum sanum confringet. [signed] Adam van der Heyde.” Interestingly, Renatus Beck published the following imprint concerning the Life of Alexander the Great, by Walter of Châtillon (fl. 1170-1180): Alexandri Magni, Regis Macedonum, vita per Gualterum episcopum Insulanum heroico carmine elegantissime scripta, [Strasbourg], R. Beck, 1513 (copy in Yale University Library, Z 64 417). Adam van der Heyde is certainly not the scribe of the manuscript portion of this work, but more likely a later sixteenth-century owner.

4.Private Collection, Europe.


ff. I-III, [printed] Title page; followed by table of Psalms, with heading in red: Registrum; Psalmus invitatorialis with incipit: “Venite exultemus Domino jubilemus Deo…”;

ff. 1-114, [printed] Psalter and Canticles: ff. 1-16v, “Beatus vir…”(Psalms 1-25); ff. 16v-26, “Dominus illuminatio mea…” (Psalms 26-37); ff. 26v-35v,“ Dixi custodiam vias meas…” (Psalms 38-51); ff. 36-45, “Dixit insipiens…” (Psalms 52-67); ff. 45v-57, “Salvum me fac…” (Psalms 68-96); ff. 57-67v, “Exultate deo…” (Psalms 97-108); ff. 68-105, “Cantate domino canticum novum…”(Psalms 109-150); ff. 105-114v and f. 1 (manuscript), Canticles [rubrics: Canticum Esaye; Canticum Ezechielis; Canticum Anna; Canticum Moysi; Canticum Abacuc; Canticum Moysi sabbato; Hymnus (canticum) puerorum Danielis; Canticum Zacharie; Canticum Ambrosii et Augustini; Symbolum Athanasii; Canticum Marie; Canticum Symeonie (“Nunc dimittis…”)] (text of Canticum Marie is partly printed and partly continued in manuscript, on f. 1; text of Canticum Symeonie is found on first folio of manuscript portion);

ff. 1-2v, [manuscript] Litany: Trudo (Utrecht, Cambrai); Hubert (Liège); Gereon (Utrecht, Cambrai); Williborde (Utrecht, Cambrai); Lebvine (Utrecht); Bavo (Utrecht, Cambrai); Odulphe (Utrecht); Walburgis; Gertrudis (Nivelles); Ursula; Dimpna (15 May; honored in Cambrai; her relics were discovered in the small town of Geel or Gheel near Antwerp in the thirteenth century; the parish church of Geel is dedicated to saint Dymphna, and she is the patron saint of the mentally ill [see her Life published in Acta SS Maii, tome III, pp. 477-497]);

ff. 2v-15, [manuscript] Abbreviated office for the liturgical year, with rubrics in Latin and Dutch; first rubric: Preces minores; followed by suffrages for different saints, beginning with Barbara (twice, f. 12 and 12v) and Agnes (f. 12v);

ff. 15-36v, [manuscript] and readings, including: ff. 15-19, for the Dead and Litany, in Latin, preceded by rubrics or headings underlined in red in Dutch, underlined; ff. 19v-25, Commendation of the Souls, in Latin, preceded by certain rubrics in Dutch, with certain passages underlined in red; ff. 25-28, Ritual of Investiture for Nuns, in Latin, with passages underlined in red, followed by Litany; ff. 28v-32, Profession of Faith, in Latin, with passages underlined in red; ff. 32-34, De professione donatorum; ff. 34-36v, to be recited during a Jubilee Year, with long passages in Dutch;

ff. 37-37v, blank;

ff. 117-140, [printed] Hymnal; rubric, In adventu; incipit, “Conditor alme syderum eterna lux…”; explicit imprint, “Presta Pater piissime patrique compare unice cum spiritu paraclito regnans per omne speculum. Amen”;

f. 140v, blank;

ff. 38-63v, [manuscript] Hymns and for the abbreviated Office of the Dead: rubric, Incipit vigilie defunctorum antiphona; “Placebo domino in regione vivorum…”; followed by hymns for diverse feasts, with first rubric: In cena Dominum cantus ad mandatum…”; ends incomplete, with last hymn interrupted: “Benedictus Abraham Deo excelso qui creavit […]”;

f. 64, blank;

f. 64v, sixteenth-century inscription, detailed in Provenance above.

The present work contains a Psalter-Hymnal, without a calendar. The Psalter was the principal book for private devotion before the development of Books of Hours in the thirteenth century. This Psalter follows the usual practice of dividing the Psalms according to the cycle in which they were recited at matins and vespers over the course of the week. The cycle begins at matins on Sunday with Psalm 1 and continued on each of the following six days, respectively at Psalms 26, 38, 52, 68, 80 and 97. The cycle for vespers began on Sunday at Psalm 109 and continued through the week with the remaining psalms. Added after the Psalter are the Canticles, Litany and Hymnal, here partly printed, partly manuscript.

This exemplar is a very rare Strasbourg imprint dated 1520 of which we have identified only three other copies all in German collections (Halle, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt, AB 181160; Cologne, Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek, A. D. bl. 334 and A. D. bl. 409). A fourth copy was lost after 1944 in the World War II bombings of Strasbourg (Bibl. Municipale, Inc. no. 3931; cited by Ritter, 1960, no. 3043: Psalterium Davidicum. Cantica et hymni…, Strasbourg, René Beck, 1520).

However, the main interest of this exemplar lies in the unusual association of print and manuscript. Although printed in Strasbourg, this copy traveled to the Lower Countries (diocese of Liege?) where it was annotated and where an important manuscript section was added to meet local liturgical needs. Profusely annotated, adapting the imprint to a local female monastic context (see the long passages devoted to the vow-taking of the nuns and their profession of faith), the present manuscript also contains noted music filled in by hand on apparently hand-drawn red staves. Some staves have remained empty (for example ff. 131v-132), whereas others are filled with notes penned in brown ink. Of the 89 Psalters in Bohatta (see nos. 794-982), 14 have space left for music, but only 3 have actual music printed. Thus approximately only a fifth of Psalters printed in the fifteenth century were designed to include music in one form or other (see Meyer-Baer, pp. XIV-XV). It would be interesting to compare the present manuscript with other copies of Beck’s 1515 or 1520 editions that similarly combine print and manuscript sections, such as the copy in Yale, Beinecke Library, 1988 483, which includes similar interlinear and marginal annotations in the printed section as well as an added manuscript section with hand-colored woodcuts. Indeed, the individuality of musical devotions, which might differ from region to region and even convent to convent, meant that music printing developed rather later than text or illustration, and some countries like Spain monasteries continued to produce their chant books by hand centuries after Gutenberg.

Reinhart or Renatus Beck (died in 1522) was a printer based in Strasbourg. During the plague in 1511, he briefly took refuge in Baden-Baden where he installed his trade. After the death of his father-in-law Jean Prüss the Elder (1480-1510), Beck took over the press “Zum Thiergarten” in 1511 and specialized in the printing of liturgical books. He associated himself with the Carthusian monastery in Strasbourg, and printed directly in the convent’s workshop a number of liturgical books, including a Psalter in 1518. Beck’s ties to the Carthusians might constitute a possible starting point for identifying the female convent for which the present copy was ordered and adapted. In all, Reinhart Beck’s press issued only 34 works.

It would be important to trace the the relationship of the 1520 edition to earlier imprints by Beck, since there is a work of this title already printed by his father-in-law as early as 1503 and other copies followed. Located copies of successive Psalters with identical title, printed by J. Prüss or R. Beck: [Strasburg, J. Prüss, 1503]: St-Gallen, Stadtbibl., 8190 – [Strasburg, J. Prüss, 1504]: Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Bible – S. 363 – [Strasburg, J. Prüss, 1512]: Strasbourg, BNUS, R 102.079 – [Strasburg, R. Beck, 1515]: Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, 8o R1.401h; Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Bibel-S. 593; Wolfenbüüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Bibel-S. 593a; New Haven, Yale, Beinecke, 1988 483; Cambridge, Hughes Hall, Typ. 515.13.21.OF; Treviso, Bibl. Com. 228.b.2 – [Strasburg, R. Beck, 1519]: Trier, Stadtbibliothek, B I 62.8o; Trier, Stadtbibliothek, Hf. 1070.8o – [Strasburg, R. Beck, 1519]: Strasbourg, BNUS, R 102.407 – [Strasburg, R. Beck, 1520]: Halle, Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt, AB 181160; Cologne, Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek, A. D. bl. 334 and A. D. bl. 409.


f. IIIv, David playing the harp, with musicians (130 x 110 mm);

f. 1, Psalm 1, Initial B[eatus vir…]: David kneeling before God with his harp (scroll in the sky reads: “D[avi]d conick va[n] Isr[ae]l”;

f. 17v, Psalm 26, Initial D[ominus illuminatio…]: David and Goliath;

f. 26, Psalm 38, Initial D[ixi custodiam…]: David pointing to his mouth;

f. 36, Psalm 52, Initial D[ixi insipiens…]: God appearing to a fool;

f. 45v, Initial S[alvum me fac]: David, in water, praying for deliverance;

f. 57, Initial E[xultate deo]: David playing a mounted series of bells or cymbalum;

f. 68, Initial C[antate domino]: Cleric and laymen singing at a lectern;

The illustration of this Psalter comprises a series of fine unrecorded woodcuts, of which 7 are historiated initials. These woodcuts merit closer examination and should be considered in the on-going recension of Alsacian printers and their illustrated sixteenth-century editions that has now covered the years 1501-1506 for Strasbourg printers and thus already includes Johann Prüss (see on-going publication: La gravure d'illustration en Alsace au XVIe siècle [1992, 2000]). The penwork and hand-painted decorated initials should also be compared with Flemish and Dutch productions.


[Alsace]. La gravure d'illustration en Alsace au XVIe siècle, II, [Imprimeurs strasbourgeois], 1501-1506:: Georg Husner, Johann Prüss, Bartolomäus Kistler, Wilhelm Schaffner, Mathias Hupfuff, Johann Schott, Johann Wähinger, Martin Flach, Johann Knobloch / Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg; [réd. par] Cécile Dupeux, Jacqueline Lévy, Anne Wintzerith... [et al.], Strasbourg, Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2000.

[Exhibition Catalogue]. La mémoire des siècles, 2000 ans d’écrits en Alsace, Strasbourg, 1988.

Benzing, J. Bibliographie Strasbourgeoise: bibliographie des ouvrages imprimés à Strasbourg au XVIe siècle, Baden-Baden, V. Koerner, 1981 (Bibliotheca bibliographica Aureliana).

Bohatta, H. Liturgische Bibliographie des XV. Jahrhunderts.., Vienna, Gilhofer und Ranschburg, 1911

Huglo, M. Les livres de chant liturgique, Typologie des sources du Moyen Age occidental, fasc. 52, Turnhout, Brepols, 1988.

Ingold, A. “Les Chartreux imprimeurs en Alsace,” Bulletin de la Société pour la conservation des monuments historiques d’Alsace, vol. XVIII, 1897-1898, p. 46.

Meyer-Baer, K. Liturgical Music Incunabula: A Descriptive Catalogue, London, The Bibliographical Society, 1962.

Ritter, F. Répertoire bibliographique des livres du XVIe siècle qui se trouvent à la Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, Editions Heitz, 1945.

Ritter, F. Histoire de l’imprimerie alsacienne aux XVe et XVIe siècles, Strasbourg, 1955.

Ritter, F. Répertoire bibliographique des livres du XVIe siècle ne figurant pas à la Bibliothèque Nationale et Universitaire de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, Editions Heitz, 1960,

Schmidt, C. Répertoire bibliographique Strasbourgeois jusque vers 1530, Strasbourg, Baden-Baden, 1980, IV, no. 32, p. 255.

Stitzmann, E. Dictionnaire de biographie des hommes célèbres de l’Alsace depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu’à nos jours, Rixheim, F. Sutter, 1909, I, pp. 106-107.

Usher-Chrisman, M. Lay Culture, Learned Culture: Books and Social Change in Strasbourg, 1480-1599, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1982, p. 393.

Usher-Chrisman, M. Bibliography of Strasbourg Imprints, 1480-1599, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1982, pp. 397-398.

Van der Vekene, E. Reliures des XVIe et XVIIe siècles conservés à la Bibliothèque nationale de Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Bibliothèque nationale, 2000.