Close XYL-28 Maiden; Two Lions

XYL-28.1 Maiden

 [Germany, c.1500–20]. Woodcut.

 Maiden with long, flowing hair and laywoman’s costume, holding a leafy or flowering sprig in her outstretched left hand. The figure is likely to be a cutting from a larger, as yet unidentified single-leaf woodcut or incunable leaf.

copy Paper cutting. 21 × 21 mm. Printed in black ink in a press on one side of the paper. Coloured in yellow, flesh-colour, red, dull red, bright red, and green. Like XYL-28.2, the cutting is an isolated piece of printing which has been integrated into the painted border decoration of a late fifteenth-century small-format prayerbook on parchment (124 × 90 mm), containing Latin and a few Middle Low German texts for the use of Cistercian nuns during the Easter period. The principal decorative elements in the manuscript are the numerous coloured and gilded initials, the decorated outer borders of fol. 20r (seven angels with musical instruments in a vine scroll), and a cycle of 57 rudely but colourfully executed miniatures in the lower borders depicting figures, mostly with inscribed banderoles, who are to be understood as associated with the individual prayers and paraliturgical texts. The woodcut cutting, whose dating is dependent upon that of the host volume (c.1500–20, not before 1494), provides the central element in the thirty-first miniature of the sequence, in the lower margin of fol. 141v, in which a maiden is shown standing in a green field full of flowers and carrying a banderole with a rhymed Latin inscription ‘Estuantes pro amo/re/ nos consperge dulci ro/re/’. It forms part of the miniature as originally conceived by the artist. The context suggests that the maiden may be intended to represent the impassioned devout soul, the bride of God. It is associated with a speech spoken in a Latin Easter play, in which the bride addresses the risen Christ as her lover and bridegroom with the words ‘Aduenisti desiderabilis O Jhesu dulcissime O dilecte my pulcherrime . . .’ (fols 141r–142r). A similar but now lost cutting appears to have formed part of the miniature in the lower margin of fol. 52v, forming the thirteenth picture in the sequence. For the host manuscript, see: SC 29743; Van Dijk II(ii) 370.

Binding: Sixteenth-century inboard blind-tooled roll binding, later rebacked. 139 × 99 × 83 mm. Mid-brown tanned calf over wooden boards, probably of oak. The upper board has two copper-alloy catch plates each attached by two iron nails. The lower board has the stubs of two tanned-leather straps each attached by two iron nails. The straps and clasps are now missing. The tooling, all blind, is executed with a fillet and a single roll. The roll (135 × 14 mm) forms a frame to each board, which is then filled with three vertical strips imprinted from the same roll. It has images of Prudentia, Lucretia, and Venus, with a foliate ornament above Prudentia, a grotesque above Lucretia, and Cupid above Venus; lettered ‘prvden | lvcrecia | venvs’; similar but not identical to EBDB roll no. r000303 (, last accessed 13 Apr. 2004); evidently the same roll as that used for the binding of Berlin SB, Ms. germ. 8o 48, also from Medingen (see Aderlass und Seelentrost, 272; ex informatione Regina Cermann). Rebacked with light-brown tanned leather. The hooked pastedowns are cut from leaves of a late thirteenth-century missal. On the upper board a nineteenth-century label inscribed ‘XXII’.

Provenance: Medingen, near Lüneburg (Lower Saxony), Cistercian nuns, BMV. Identified by Lipphardt as one of an extensive group of manuscripts made for this convent, all datable to the period 1470–1520 (Achten); see the prayer naming the town of Lüneburg on fol. 28v, with mention of an abbess. The first holder of this office in Medingen was Margarete Puffen, attested from 1479 as prioress, elevated to the rank of abbess in 1494. Whereas Lipphardt dates the manuscript on stylistic grounds and with reference to the sixteenth-century binding to the period of Abbess Elisabeth von Elvern (1513–24), Uhde-Stahl argues, on the basis of close affinities between the script of this manuscript and Hannover LB, Ms. I 74, which she considers to be datable before 1479, and an association between the lions on fol. 217v (see XYL-28.2) and the arms of Tylemann de Bavenstede, Provost of Medingen 1478–97, for the period 1494–97. See W. Lipphardt, ‘Niederdeutsche Reimgedichte und Lieder des 14. Jahrhunderts in den mittelalterlichen Orationalien der Zisterzienserinnen von Medingen und Wienhausen’, Niederdeutsches Jahrbuch, 95 (1972), 66–131; Lipphardt, ‘Die liturgische Funktion deutscher Kirchenlieder in den Klöstern niedersächsischer Zisterzienserinnen des Mittelalters’, ZFKT 94 (1972), 158–98, at 164 no. 18; Lipphardt, ‘Medinger Gebetbücher’ (‘Medinger Lieder und Gedichte’), in VL 6 (1987), 275–80; B. Uhde-Stahl, ‘Figürliche Buchmalereien in den spätmittelalterlichen Handschriften der Lüneburger Frauenklöster’, Niederdeutsche Beiträge zur Kunstgeschichte, 17 (1978), 25–60, at 39 and 45–6, ills 19, 23, and 28; G. Achten, ‘De gebedenboeken van den cisterciënzerinnenkloosters Medingen en Wienhausen’, in Miscellanea Neerlandica. FS Jan Deschamps, ed. E. Cockx-Indestege and F. Hendrickx (Louvain, 1987), III 173–88. The use of numerous similar printed cuttings, integrated into border miniatures, is recorded in another Medingen manuscript, Hannover LB, Ms. I 74, whose script, initials, and illumination are virtually identical with those employed here; see H. Härtel and F. Ekowski, Handschriften der Niedersächsischen Landesbibliothek Hannover. Erster Teil Ms I 1--Ms I 174 (Wiesbaden, 1989), 62, who assign this book to the second quarter of the sixteenth century on the basis of a watermark supposedly datable to c.1540 (?). For a close parallel to script and illumination, in a manuscript datable to c.1515–20, see Berlin SB, Ms. germ. 8o 48, illustrated in Achten 180; Aderlass und Seelentrost, 273 (colour plate). Purchased by the Bodleian at the James Brice sale (Sotheby’s, 27 July 1887), lot 535, for £8.

shelfmark: MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4, fol. 141v.

XYL-28.2 Two Lions

 [Germany, c.1500–20]. Woodcut.

 Two lions passant with raised forepaws, facing each other. Likely to have been taken from an as yet unidentified woodcut illustration in a printed book.

copy Two paper cuttings. 25 × 24 mm; 26 × 22 mm. Printed in black ink in a press, with traces of woodcut printing on the reverse. Coloured in pale yellow. The cuttings are incorporated into a scene showing the two lions pacing towards each other on a green field full of flowers. The miniature occurs in the lower margin of fol. 217r in a prayerbook for Eastertide made for the Cistercian nuns of Medingen in Westphalia (datable c.1500–20, not before 1494), where it is the fiftieth in the sequence of marginal miniatures. The context is a prayer for the Sunday after Easter (incipit: ‘Benedico deifice maiestatis consubstancialis qui illuxisti seculis splententem [!] eternaliter Resurrectionis decore perfusus et veste multifarie fulgoris ac glorie indutus . . .’). The lions are to be understood as symbols of the resurrection, as for example in verse 2 of the hymn ‘Chorus novae Jerusalem / Novam meli dulcedinem’ (Chevalier, Rep. hymn., 2824), sung by Cistercians at terce on this day. Uhde-Stahl, ‘Figürliche Buchmalerei’, 57–9, note 88, notes that the right-hand lion is identical with that on the arms of Tylemann de Bavenstede, Provost of Medingen 1478–1497, and considers that he may have had a close association with the production of this manuscript.

Provenance: Medingen, near Lüneburg (Lower Saxony), Cistercian nuns, BMV. Purchased by the Bodleian in 1877. See XYL-28.1.

shelfmark: MS. Lat. liturg. f. 4, fol. 217r.