Patricians of parchment

(K. Brent Tomer),

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts. By Christopher de Hamel. Allen Lane; 632 pages; £30.

ON MAY 4th 1945, when Allied troops entered Adolf Hitler’s mountain retreat in the Bavarian Alps, they discovered devastation—and some very valuable art. Later, American troops would display a selection under an improvised sign reading: “The Hermann Goering Art Collection: Through Courtesy of the 101st Airborne Division”. Among the Rembrandts and Renoirs, few paid much attention to two small, dull, squarish objects. A French officer trod on one, thinking it was a brick; another was scooped up by an army doctor.

That initial diagnosis proved incorrect, though. It was not a brick, but a medieval manuscript (the word means “written by hand”.) The second was one of the most famous manuscripts ever made: a prayer book for a medieval queen that had fetched a record-breaking price at Sotheby’s in London in 1919. This was the “Book of Hours” made for a French queen, Jeanne de Navarre. In “Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts” Christopher de Hamel, fellow and librarian of the Parker Library of Corpus Christi…Continue reading

via K. Brent Tomer CFTC Patricians of parchment


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