Penn Library Exhibitions

Bibliotheca Schoenbergensis: An Exhibition from the Collection of Lawrence J. Schoenberg

Arts of the Page
Collage of miniatures
Northern France (possibly Paris), 1470-1490

This collage consists of miniatures from what was originally an ornate and richly illuminated manuscript, stylistically reminiscent of Parisian work from the late fifteenth century. There exist three other collages from this same manuscript--one is also part of this collection. Altogether, forty-eight miniatures from this manuscript are known to survive. These illustrations depict several unusual subjects, including: St. Helen finding the True Cross (upper right corner); Christ being shown the tribute penny (lower left corner); and Solomon ordering the cutting down of the tree which would eventually become the Cross (lower right corner).

Parchment, 1 collage, 355 x 324 (each miniature 55 x 60) mm.

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Credo, from an antiphonary
Italy, fifteenth century

Containing the opening of the Nicene Creed, this leaf was part of a large antiphonary designed to be read by the entire choir at once. The initial "C" is historiated with a floating bust of God the Father, his right hand raised in benediction, his left holding an orb.

Parchment, 547 x 387 mm, 5 lines, in Latin, written in round Gothic script.

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The circle of Liberale de Verona
Nativity scene
Verona, late fifteenth century

Unlike the manuscript fragments used in bookbindings, this miniature was cut out of its manuscript for its own sake, to be shown independently as a work of art. The painting was originally part of a truly spectacular Gradual, where it was the illustration for the beginning of Christmas Mass (the "P" of "Puer natus est"). Although similar in style to the work of Liberale de Verona (1445-ca.1529), this Christmas scene was probably painted not by Liberale himself but by an artist in his circle, perhaps Girolamo da Cremona, with whom he collaborated from 1472-4. Between them, the two artists produced some of the finest manuscript miniatures of the Quattrocento. An account book for their work during this period includes an entry dated 17 June 1473 recording a payment of 31 lire and 10 soldi to Girolamo for a "large miniature with the story of the Nativity of Our Lord"--this could very well be that same painting.

Parchment, 176 x 154 mm.

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The Spanish Forger
Chess scene
France, ca. 1900

The Spanish Forger is one of the most famous frauds in recent history. Once sold as authentic medieval paintings and miniatures, the works of the Forger (who was in all probability not Spanish but French) are now prized and collected in their own right as forgeries. His identity is unknown, although he is thought to have been active in Paris around the turn of the century. Close to 200 works by him have been identified, mostly painted on wood panels or pieces of parchment from which the medieval writing has been scraped. Such is the case here. The other side of this leaf retains the original music of a fourteenth or fifteenth century Italian antiphonary. A secular theme such as the game-playing found here would be completely out of place in a liturgical book--such incongruities are common in the Forger's work, and often give him away.

Parchment, 187 x 134 mm.

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