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Miniature Manuscript Used as a Pendant
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Miniature Manuscript Used as a Pendant


Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description This tiny manuscript written for a lady served as a pretty pendant as well as a prayer book. The gold cover is enameled and set with rubies. During the Renaissance, miniature books were valued as works of virtuosity as well as devotional aids. The chain allowed it to be hung as a pendant, possibly from a girdle or a rosary. The text inside--the seven penitential psalms associated with King David’s penance for his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba--is perfectly legible. The manuscript also contains two tiny and beautifully painted illuminations, one of the Virgin Mary and the other of Christ. The scribe who copied the text signed his work as Jacobus Romanus.
Conservation

The binding is made of gold sheet with engraved patterns and recesses. The enameling technique is champlevé. White opaque enamel fills the background recessed areas surrounding the curvilinear decoration. The white enamel has some losses and cracks that are from mechanical damage. The dark blue enamel forming dashed borders around the perimeter and central ruby is unstable. The original enamel recipe has caused the blue enamel to break down or crizzle. The text block is secured by a single gold pin of the same size as the hinge pins on the binding. The gemstones are rubies or spinels and fluoresce under long and short wave ultraviolet light.

Date Description Narrative
6/02/2014ExaminationExamined for digitization
Exhibitions
  • World of Wonder. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1971-1972.
  • Jewelry - Ancient to Modern. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979-1980.
  • Illuminated Manuscripts: Masterpieces in Miniature. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984-1985.
  • The Art of Fine Binding in the Renaissance. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1993.
  • Covered in Meaning: Book Bindings from The Walters. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1997-1998.
  • The Closed Book: Seven Short Stories. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2002.
  • The Closed Book: Seven Short Stories. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2005.
  • Shrunken Treasures: Miniaturization in Books and Art. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2009.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore, after 1895 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, after 1895

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Period
ca. 1550 (High Renaissance)
Medium
ink and paint on parchment, bound between gold, enamel, and rubies (or spinels)
(Manuscripts & Rare Books)
Accession Number
W.444
Measurements
Folio H: 7/8 × W: 11/16 in. (2.2 × 1.67 cm); H of binding: 1 × W: 15/16 × D: 5/16 in. (2.5 × 2.35 × 0.8 cm); H of binding with chain: 2 5/8 × 15/16 × 5/16 in. (6.6 × 2.35 × 0.8 cm)
Geographies
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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