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Image, Knife, and Gluepot: Early Assemblage in Manuscript and Print
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1. Cut, Pasted, and Cut Again:
The Fate of 140 German and Netherlandish Single-Leaf Prints at the Hands of a Limburg Franciscan and a Modern Connoisseur

© Kathryn M. Rudy, CC BY 4.0 https://doi.org/ 10.11647/OBP.0145.01

This chapter is about beghards in Maastricht who, around 1500, collected more than 150 single-leaf woodcut prints and engravings and glued them into an elaborate book of hours, the hulk of which is now in London, British Library Add. Ms. 24332. This is also the story of a curator who, in 1861, cut the prints out of the manuscript in order to mount them, according to their style or ‘school’, thereby giving them a completely different function. It is a case study of a larger group of books that straddled the old and new technologies, books made the old-fashioned way (by writing by hand) that nevertheless used the new technology (of printmaking) to introduce images. These books were waypoints along the transition from the handwritten to the printed book, a transition that was anything but smooth. 1 Finally, it is a study is about innovation, new organisational systems, failed experiments, and about individuals responding to new technologies and integrating multiple fields of craft production. By telling this story in this first person, I am revealing my own organisational systems, failed experiments, and stumbling forays into integrating fields of craft.

Exploratory innovation took place with the book in the fifteenth century: mills sprang up to produce paper to feed the cottage industries that produced copper engravings, woodcut prints, blockbooks, handwritten and printed books, and all the hybrids and halflings in between. Transitioning from the handwritten book to the printed one was not swift, but involved bumps and false starts and abandoned experiments, resulting in books that had one foot in the old manual camp and the other in the new mechanical camp. 2 Important recent studies by Peter Schmidt, David Areford, and Ursula Weekes have investigated these transitions by analysing the social function of prints in the manuscript era. 3 They have rightly pointed out that prints can travel long distances before ending up in particular books. Furthermore, they have emphasized the functions of the prints over their style and have considered their afterlives, and they have asked how various early prints have acted in hybrids. The current study likewise concerns itself with one of those hybrids, containing handwritten text and mechanically reproduced images, all pasted together into a unity. With an estimated 156 prints originally pasted into it, the beghards’ first manuscript contains (or rather, contained) more early prints than any other surviving manuscript, and as such, deserves a concentrated study. Unlike the objects of study of other recent analyses of such hybrids, my object was divided and dispersed, meaning that tracing its parts forms the first operation. This in turn necessitates analysing habits of nineteenth-century collecting, which precipitated the dispersal in the first place. What had started as an attempt to illustrate a manuscript book of hours without having to master draughtsmanship soon became a nearly obsessional project in integrating the many prints flowing through Maastricht. Other chapters in this book each address other manuscripts with their original prints, although most of those prints have now been cut out and stored separately.

How the prints came to be loosed from their manuscripts is a nineteenth-century story. If the decades flanking 1500 can be characterised by experiments in book making, the mid-nineteenth century was the era for categorising and cataloguing: the great catalogues raisonnés were written then. In the field of the history of printing, Wilhelm Ludwig Schreiber (1855–1932) and Max Lehrs (1855–1938) separated woodcuts from engravings and built the great corpus of fifteenth-century woodcuts and engravings that form the basis for modern understanding of the subject. 4 Creating knowledge depended on classifying the physical objects, but the modern pastimes of organising, labelling, and collecting came at a price. According to the Cartesian plan of the nineteenth-century museum, prints belonged to one department and manuscripts to another. Because a manuscript with prints did not fit this scheme, the Cartesians had to separate the prints from the manuscripts. 5 This scene recalls the story of Procrustes, the son of Poseidon from Greek mythology. A smith with an iron bed, Procrustes invited every passerby to spend the night in his cruel lodge. He would stretch the guests who were too short for his bed, and sever the legs of those who were too tall. Likewise, print curators of the nineteenth century wrenched items out of books and into print collections, which demanded flat objects attached to mattes and stored in standard-sized boxes. Like Procrustes’ long-legged guests, large prints were trimmed (or folded) to fit the mattes. For small prints that would have been dwarfed by the matte, curators pasted on several related examples, usually in elaborate symmetrical arrangements. These cataloguing activities of harvesting prints from manuscripts occurred all over Europe and America, to make the prints fit into the conceptual and physical category of ‘individual printed sheets of paper’. At the moment of museum accession, all record of the original home of the prints was usually lost, and they became self-sufficient objects. And since, as I will show, prints and manuscripts might have widely different geographic origins, there was no obvious way to reconnect them even if one wanted to, which, until recently, no one did.

Reversing the work of the nineteenth-century curators meant employing their Cartesian methods beyond anything they had deemed possible: I made an Excel spreadsheet, which started as a simple grid. As the project grew in complexity, the table grew into one containing 14 x 646 squares, including some dynamic self-generating fields which added up how many folios, lost folios, and prints the original manuscript had. The Appendix is as simple as it can be, but no simpler. 6 The spreadsheet allowed me to conclude that London, British Library Add. Ms. 24332, a manuscript book of hours and prayerbook, originally contained more than 541 paper folios, 2 parchment folios, and at least 156 prints and a handful of drawings in several styles. 7 At least two scribes at the monastery of beghards dedicated to St Matthew and St Bartholomew in Maastricht wrote this manuscript around 1500 (more about that date later). One of the scribes was Jan van Emmerick, who was probably the corrector, and probably furnished the manuscript with a table of contents and foliated it, thereby experimenting with new media and new ways of organising ideas.

Add. 24332 contained an enormous collection of prints made before 1500. These prints originated from several sources, and not just from one geographical region but from the Middle Rhine as well as from Dutch-speaking lands. Moreover, the prints were hand-painted in a variety of styles, a fact that reveals aspects of the colouring of prints and their distribution. Assembling all the prints, the leaves on which they are pasted, and the gutted hulk of the manuscript from which they were taken ( Add. 24332 as the mothership) allows a multiplication of individual observations, which lends the entire project a historical context. Only by ‘reassembling’ the manuscript, at least in a spreadsheet and through electronic images, can one answer basic questions about it: what did the finished work look like? To what purpose was it put? Who used it? The task of reconstructing the manuscript was linked to the question of how the beghards assembled the book, and with what component parts. Did those parts come pre-assembled (painted and trimmed)? What, exactly, did the beghards have to do in order to get these components into shape to use them in Add. 24332? But let me tell the story in the order that the clues revealed themselves to me.

I began putting the pieces together in the 2005–2006 academic year while I was the Kress Fellow at the Warburg Institute in London. Looking for images representing the martyrdom of St Barbara in a landscape with a continuous narrative for a new hypothesis I was developing, I marched up to the vast photograph archive at the Warburg and began digging around to gather ideas. 8 There I encountered an image of the saint that was not relevant to my project but nevertheless caught my attention (fig. 1). It had a number of provocative features. First of all, the photograph captured an entire manuscript leaf, on which there was an image depicting St Barbara, but not a miniature. Rather, the image was an engraved roundel, which had later been trimmed and pasted into the leaf of a prayerbook. This roundel was recognisable as one printed by Israhel van Meckenem, a prodigious Rhineland engraver active from ca. 1465–1500.

Fig. 1  Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing St Barbara, standing with her attribute. Unlabelled documentary photograph housed at the Warburg Institute, London.

Fig. 1 Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing St Barbara, standing with her attribute. Unlabelled documentary photograph housed at the Warburg Institute, London.

Secondly, I noted that the manuscript leaf was not copied in a German dialect of the Lower/ Middle Rhine, but rather in Middle Dutch, which meant that the print had travelled some distance westward before landing in a Dutch manuscript. Thirdly, the script was ornate. Written in a florid style, the letters have ascenders on the top line, and the descenders on the bottom line had been extended into festive curlicues. These features made the leaf memorable. Its most remarkable feature, however, was the number at the top, the Roman numeral cccc lxxij , written in a fifteenth-century hand. This was, in other words, original foliation, which is highly unusual for a prayerbook. Since the foliation had reached the number 472, I was apparently looking at a leaf from a very thick prayerbook. Unfortunately, the photograph gave no indication of what manuscript the folio belonged to or where the object was housed: the source of the photograph was not given on its reverse. In those days I lugged an A4-sized flatbed scanner around with me, so I scanned the photograph. I filed away these observations and carried on with my task of finding narrative images depicting St Barbara.

Meanwhile, since 2002 I had been working through all the Middle Dutch manuscripts in the British Library, looking at one or two manuscripts each time I had a few spare hours in London. On 6 April 2006 I called up Add. 24332 for the first time. This manuscript is a Netherlandish book of hours written on paper and preserved in its original binding (although its spine had been repaired, a detail that later proved important) (fig. 2). Its unusual script with the exuberant but amateurish ascenders was familiar from the photograph I had seen. I turned to folio cccc lxxij , expecting to find the image of St Barbara from the photograph, but that folio was not there. Instead, the manuscript had a blank leaf, a dummy, made of modern paper of the same weight and pale yellow colour as the inscribed leaves. It was now clear that the unlabelled Warburg photograph documented a detached leaf, one that had gone astray but was captured in a picture: a frustratingly unlabelled, untraceable documentary photograph.

Figs. 2a and 2b  Manuscript binding, binding front and back, blind stamped leather over boards, made by the beghards of Maastricht c. 1500 (rebacked after 1861). London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332. Figs. 2a and 2b  Manuscript binding, binding front and back, blind stamped leather over boards, made by the beghards of Maastricht c. 1500 (rebacked after 1861). London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332.

Figs. 2a and 2b Manuscript binding, binding front and back, blind stamped leather over boards, made by the beghards of Maastricht c. 1500 (rebacked after 1861). London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332.

Further inspection of the manuscript revealed not just one but many missing folios. This was immediately obvious because of the many gaps in the manuscript’s original foliation and the many inserted modern blanks. In some cases an entire leaf had been removed and in others a leaf had patches of discolouration, indicating that something had been glued down and later re-lifted. Folio ccc xlv (modern foliation 312, fig. 3), for example, has an area of discolouration in an oval form. What had been lifted must have been a print, for areas at the top and left remained adhered to the page. I could make out the jagged crenulations often found around images depicting the Virgin of the Sun, which was probably the print originally glued to this leaf. A print of that subject would have enhanced the devotions written on that folio, since the print would have fallen on the same folio with a prayer to be read in front of ‘an image of the Virgin in the sun’ (‘voer onser vrouwen bielde inder sonnen’), according to the accompanying rubric.

Fig. 3  Opening from the beghards’ book of hours, Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fols 311v–312r (modern foliation) or ccc xlv (original foliation).

Fig. 3 Opening from the beghards’ book of hours, Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fols 311v–312r (modern foliation) or ccc xlv (original foliation).

Moreover, on the previous folio, opposite the leaf with the shadowy remains of the Virgin of the Sun, was a rectangular hole in the lower border where someone had cut out a section, presumably because it had contained a print. With the object excised completely, it was difficult to determine what its subject would have been. This was also the case for folio 283, where another rectangular hole pointed to a cut-out print (fig. 4). This time, however, the knife-bearer had cut straight through another image, the top part of it still glued to the verso side of the folio. That fragmentary image is a woodcut representing the Annunciation, carefully hand-coloured in washes of warm tones. Whatever the image on the reverse of this sheet was, it must have been even more spectacular than the woodcut, which was sacrificed in the process of removing it.

Fig. 4  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours with part of a hand-painted woodcut depicting the Annunciation, Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 283v (modern foliation).

Fig. 4 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours with part of a hand-painted woodcut depicting the Annunciation, Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 283v (modern foliation).

Besides the fragment of the Annunciation, only two other prints were left in the manuscript: a printed flower pasted into an initial on folio 254r (fig. 5), and an engraving representing St John supporting the swooning Mary on folio 307v (fig. 6). After it had been painted with delicate washes on the Virgin’s halo and John’s hair, the engraving had then been cut out, or ‘silhouetted’, and pasted near the gutter so that the figures would face the text. Script flowed around the contours of the Virgin’s body, suggesting that the print had been pasted down before the time of writing and was not a later afterthought. 9

Fig. 5  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours with a printed rosette pasted into the initial. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 254r (modern foliation).

Fig. 5 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours with a printed rosette pasted into the initial. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 254r (modern foliation).

Fig. 6  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours with a silhouetted engraving depicting Mary and John, Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 307v (modern foliation).

Fig. 6 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours with a silhouetted engraving depicting Mary and John, Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 307v (modern foliation).

I spent the rest of the afternoon at the British Library listing all the missing folios in Add. 24332 and transcribing its calendar, which enabled me to localise the manuscript. Feasts in red included St Servatius (13 May; fig. 7), the Translation of St Servatius (7 June), and St Hubert (3 November). St Hubert’s pilgrimage shrine is in his eponymous town in the Ardennes, and his presence therefore pointed to the Diocese of Luik ( Liège), where the Ardennes are located. That St Servatius, the patron of the church in Maastricht, had two feast days in red not only confirmed that the manuscript was made in the diocese of Liège, but further suggested that it might have come from Maastricht, the site of the imposing Romanesque church housing the relics of and dedicated to St Servatius.

Fig. 7  Calendar page for the first half of May. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 5r (modern foliation).

Fig. 7 Calendar page for the first half of May. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 5r (modern foliation).

The many Franciscan saints strongly suggested that the manuscript was made in a Franciscan milieu. Their feasts included those of St Francis (4 October), St Anthony (17 January), the Translation of St Francis (25 May), and the Five Wounds of St Francis (17 September). Moreover, Francis was listed first among the confessors in the litany, and the names ‘Jhesus, Maria, Anna, Franciscus, Clara’ are used as a space filler after one of the rubrics that ends near the bottom of the page (fig. 8). Because of the masculine pronouns in the manuscript, as well as some particularities about a list of indulgences that I shall discuss later, I suspected that the manuscript came from a men’s Franciscan monastery, even though the related vernacular devotional books embellished with prints, as shown in Ursula Weekes’s important book, Early Engravers and their Public , were made in women’s monasteries. 10 It appears that men were doing it, too.

Fig. 8  Rubric revealing Franciscan affinities. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 250r (modern foliation).

Fig. 8 Rubric revealing Franciscan affinities. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 250r (modern foliation).

Other saints in the calendar further helped to narrow the provenance to a particular monastery in Maastricht. It included entries in red for St Bartholomew (24 August), as well as for the translation of his relics on 25 October, whereas most other calendars list the martyrs Crispin and Crispiaen on that day. In the litany, the Archangel Michael is underlined in red (folio 118v). These details made it possible to pin the manuscript to a particular monastery. In the early 2000s, while working on the Koninklijke Bibliotheek’s website Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections, 11 my friend Saskia van Bergen had assembled a list of every monastic and semi-monastic institution in the Dutch-speaking areas of what is now Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. They are organised by town, dedicatory saint(s), gender, and confession. According to this list, only one monastery fitted the particular saints in Add. 24332: the house of beghards in Maastricht, dedicated to St Bartholomew and St Michael. Because St Bartholomew was an apostle, and St Michael an archangel, their feast days are written in red in many calendars, but the fact that the translation of St Bartholomew’s relics is also given in red in Add. 24332 signals the extra attention that the users gave this saint. These features also suggest that the manuscript was made for the beghards’ own use. This attribution concurred with that listed in Karl Stooker and Theo Verbeij’s monumental study of manuscripts from the Low Countries with a monastic provenance. 12 Furthermore, the great historian of Netherlandish manuscripts, Jan Deschamps, had identified one of the three scribes who wrote 24332 as Jan van Emmerick, who was a beghard in Maastricht. 13

Not only did the calendar confirm that the manuscript had come from the beghards in Maastricht, but it also helped with dating. A note in the calendar entered for 5 May provides a date (folio 5): ‘dusent ccccc ende i des avonts omtrent .9. verssterf on. moe. o. i. go. da. Vigili’ (1501 in the evening around nine o’clock ‘on. moe. o. i. go. da.’ died). 14 This note gives the date and time of death of someone important, but the exact identity of that someone remains a mystery, as it is obscured in a highly personal abbreviation. What is clear, however, is that this note was written in the same hand as one of those in the calendar, which suggests that the whole book was completed in or shortly before 1501. Other highly unusual aspects of the calendar, however, formed puzzles that I eventually cracked, and that gave me insight into the makers’ minds. In short, they turned the calendar into a table of contents (which I will discuss in Chapter 2 ).

The Beghards of Maastricht and their Commercial Pursuits

Evidence in the calendar, as well as the identification of one of the scribes in the manuscript as Jan van Emmerick, revealed that the manuscript was written and constructed by the beghards of Maastricht around 1500. Why were these beghards so experimental in their use of prints and indexing systems? One answer is perhaps that they ran a binding operation, so they saw many kinds of new books in their studio and therefore were exposed to all the latest developments in book making. The unusual calendar and the pasted print are new technologies that they could have seen this way. A brief history of their house reveals a group of extraordinary men who were at the forefront of teaching, book making, weaving, trade, and commerce.

Franciscan spirituality came quite early to the Netherlands. St Francis of Assisi (1182–1226) was declared a saint two years after his death. Born into a rich family, Francis shed his possessions and preached extreme poverty. Along with the Dominicans, the Franciscans formed the mendicant preaching orders, and their rise also follows the formation of urbanisation in Europe. Unlike earlier orders, such as the Benedictines, the Franciscans did not seek remote, secluded terrain, but lived in the new cities and preached to their inhabitants. Franciscan preaching focussed on the Passion. For the many followers whom he attracted during his life, Francis wrote a Rule, which was approved orally in 1210 by Pope Innocent III (1198–1216), then ratified in a signed document in 1223 by Pope Honorius III (1216–1227). Although founded in Italy, the Franciscan movement spread quickly across the Alps. Within the Custody of Brabant, Franciscan male houses were founded in the following places:

  • St Truiden (Sanctus Trudo): established in 1226–1231
  • Tienen (Tenis): established as early as 1226; definitive buildings from 1266 onwards
  • Diest (Deriste): established in 1228
  • Leuven (Lovania): established in 1228
  • Brussels (Bruxella): established c. 1228/31
  • Mechelen (Machilinia): established in 1231
  • Maastricht (Trajectum super Mosam): established in 1234

With a Franciscan presence established in the Netherlands immediately after St Francis died, the areas quickly had numerous Franciscan installations. Of these foundations, the earliest were built in St Truiden and in Tienen by 1226. St Truiden was therefore an important saint for Netherlandish Franciscans, and his feast day on 24 November and the translation of his relics on 11 August are listed in the calendar of Add. 24332. In Maastricht a monastery for the Minderbroeders, or Friars Minor, was built on St Pieterstraat, following its approval in 1234.

How did the beghards differ from other Franciscans who lived in Maastricht at the same time? Answering this meant delving into the voluminous literature written about the monasteries of the amateur scholars of Maastricht in the late nineteenth century. In the publications of the archives of Limburg, they mentioned the beghards’ school, loom room, and bindery. Unlike other branches of Franciscans, the beghards did not beg for alms: instead, their various business activities — weaving, binding, and teaching — supported them financially. It is difficult to assess just how wealthy the beghards were in the fifteenth century. Although their spiritual ideal was poverty, they owned expensive things. One of their most precious objects was an image of Christ carved in ivory, which disappeared during the Napoleonic takeover of the monasteries. 15 An ivory image suggests that they were not utterly impoverished. Drawings made in 1746 also paint a lavish picture of the beghards’ possessions: the brotherhood of the Trinity, which was formed in 1646 when the Turks released Christian prisoners, celebrated its hundredth anniversary at the altar of the beghards in Maastricht, on which occasion three drawings were made. They show a richly decorated baroque altar, and ample, well-appointed rooms. 16 Even in the fifteenth century the brothers were well off. Far from the Franciscan ideal of begging for their meals, these brothers engaged in several commercial pursuits.

It is difficult to know how lucrative their bindery was, but it is clear from examining their extant bindings that they exercised their trade with a practiced degree of craft using high-quality materials. For example, they bound a manuscript for the female Franciscans in Maastricht with blind-stamped leather over oak boards ( Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv. no. 462; fig. 9). Into the leather they stamped an image of St Servatius under a gothic canopy. Flanked by two angels, Servatius holds a bishop’s staff in one hand and an enormous key in the other, which suggests that he has the ‘keys’ to the city of Maastricht. Underfoot are two flailing beasts, which represent the Jews he converted. (In this way, his iconography is connected to that of St Lambert.) His name, Servatius, appears in gothic script in the frame above and below the saint. In other words, the beghards used stamping technology to brand their wares, and to connect the book with a particular place. Inside is an experiment in that the book contains a design that had probably been imported from Delft and then worked into the calendar (fig. 10). That design is a clock face, with the finger of God as the ticker and the numbers 1–12 in Roman numerals sliding around the dial.

Fig. 9  Manuscript binding, blind stamped leather over boards, made by the beghards of Maastricht c. 1500. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462.

Fig. 9 Manuscript binding, blind stamped leather over boards, made by the beghards of Maastricht c. 1500. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462.

Fig. 10  Clock folio, facing January calendar page. Opening folios in a prayerbook made in Maastricht c. 1500. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462.

Fig. 10 Clock folio, facing January calendar page. Opening folios in a prayerbook made in Maastricht c. 1500. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462.

To spend some time in Maastricht was a logical next step, but it was not until 2008 that I had the opportunity to go there while working on the website Medieval Manuscripts in Dutch Collections. Joan Blaeu’s map from 1650 (e-fig. 1), one of the Netherlandish city views he made when not mapping Scotland or the Far East, shows the city and its intimate relationship with the river Maas (Meuse).

Joan Blaeu’s map ( e-fig. 1)

Joan Blaeu, Map of Maastricht, from the Toonneel der Steeden (Views of Netherlandish Cities), 1650.

The medieval city walls lie within the bounds of the expanded seventeenth-century ramparts. Among the medieval buildings depicted is the lakenhal , or cloth hall, the centre for trade among the city’s weavers (including the beghards). Nowadays, aside from the occasional bus that comes barrelling across the square, the old centre is mostly a pedestrian zone. The Church of Our Lady greets the viewer with a Westwerk like a fortified castle, which protects a fourteenth-century wooden painted pietà inside. Men in suits now visit her during their lunch hours and rub their pain into the surface, burnished by thousands of hands. 17

Maastricht’s major Franciscan church, which, along with its adjacent cloister and monastic buildings, now functions as the city archive, was in the centre of the city and close to the river, but with some luck and persistence they were able to acquire the neighbouring lots. The church has a nave and two side aisles and is wholly made of local Limburg marlstone (fig. 11). It originally had extensive wall paintings, only small fragments of which are now left. A cult image depicting the Virgin as the Star of the Sea ( de Sterre der Zee ) once occupied the chapel of the Holy Virgin at the right side of the choir; that image, which still draws immense crowds, has now been moved to the nearby Church of Our Lady, when she is not being processed through the streets of the city.

Fig. 11  Franciscan church, Sint Pieterstraat, Maastricht (now the Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg). Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Fig. 11 Franciscan church, Sint Pieterstraat, Maastricht (now the Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg). Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

On Witmakersstraat, a stone’s throw from the Minderbroeders’ monastery and church on Pieterstraat, was the house of the beghards ( begaarden ). The beghard movement was founded during St Francis’ lifetime, when the saint saw that large numbers of lay people wanted to follow him. Francis responded to this by writing the rule for the ‘third order’ in 1221, which laymen and laywomen could follow if they cared to turn their backs on the world, which meant living in poverty, renouncing worldliness and possessions. Some of these laypeople formed brotherhoods and lived communally, calling themselves beghards. ( Beguines are not female beghards, although beguines were indeed laywomen who lived communally. 18 Beguines did not follow the Third Rule of St Francis, and their history is only tangentially related to that of the beghards, despite the similarity of their names.)

The beghards were living in a house on Witmakersstraat by 1268, with a chapel dedicated to St Bartholomew. 19 That chapel was originally intended for the brotherhood to perform their prayers. A few years later, the beghards grew into a monastery, and some of the members became priests. They applied to the Chapter of Our Dear Lady for permission to build a larger chapel where the priests could perform Mass, along with a cemetery, a request that was granted in 1308. Their new chapel was dedicated to SS Michael and Bartholomew together. Later the beghards abandoned the Chapter of Our Dear Lady and joined the Chapter of Zepperen in 1450. 20 (These were ecclesiastical jurisdictions, distinct from the much better-known Capital of Windesheim.) It is possible that Zepperen was more closely connected to trade and therefore had better business dealings.

Whereas the minderbroeders (friars minor) occupied the large monastery and church complex on Pieterstraat, the beghards lived nearby in a convent on Witmakersstraat. Both communities followed the Third Rule of Francis. Witmakersstraat means ‘bleachers’ street’, a name probably given because of the linen-weaving and bleaching industries that took place there. While the friars minor earned their living by preaching and begging, the beghards taught pupils and wove linen. As a company of weavers, the beghards joined the guild of weavers ( lakengilde ) in 1453, although it is not clear whether they did so by choice or force. While this meant that they became subject to the guild’s regulations, inspections, and fees, at some level, guild membership must have been beneficial to their trade, for in 1484, they also expanded their weaving business by building a larger atelier. Shortly thereafter, however, the city council brought a formal complaint against them because the large number of looms they operated constituted burdensome competition for the city’s other weavers. As a result of this complaint, the city limited the beghards’ looms to eight. During most of their history, there were sixteen brothers living in the house; it is possible that they originally had sixteen looms — one for each brother — before they were forced to reduce them by half. Perhaps the beghards filled the empty space by constructing a book bindery, which would also bring in some additional money, thereby making up for the loss of income from the missing looms.

In their bindery the beghards made hand-tooled leather bindings, including the binding of Add. 24332. Panel-stamped leather over boards, the manuscript’s binding displays the names ‘Jhesus’ and ‘Maria’ in banderols at top and bottom, a coat of arms that is no longer legible, and small circles with evangelist symbols. Apparently, the beghards bound not only their own manuscripts but also those for others. In this regard, the beghards of Maastricht must have had some dealings with the sisters of Maagdendriesch (a word that means ‘tertiary virgins’), a neighbouring house for female tertiaries. Originally a group of laywomen who decided in 1200 to live together in religious community, the group adopted the Third Rule of St Francis in the fourteenth century, at which time their residence became a monastery where the sisters lived in enclosure. 21 In the fifteenth century the convent grew considerably, accommodating at least forty sisters in 1415. At the same time, their chapel, which until that time had been only for use by the sisters, was opened to the public as a church, and was dedicated to St Andreas by the Bishop of Liège, Erard van der Marck, in 1471. Maagdendriesch, thereafter known as the Convent of St Andreas, also had an active scriptorium. No fewer than sixteen manuscripts produced or owned by these sisters have survived. 22 The beghards bound at least two of these, including a prayerbook copied in part by sister Katrijn van Rade, a sister at Maagdendriesch ( Amsterdam, UB, Ms. I G 12; fig. 12); and Maastricht, RHCL, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv. no. 462 ( fig. 9 ). Like these two manuscripts, Add. 24332, has been bound in blind-stamped leather over a book block held together with four cords. The brass clasps of all three bindings are remarkably similar. It is possible that I G 12 was made for a layperson. If so, then the female and male Franciscans might have worked together as a team to create saleable manuscripts for the public.

Fig. 12  Manuscript binding, blind stamped leather over boards, made by the beghards of Maastricht c. 1500. Amsterdam University Library, Ms. I G 12.

Fig. 12 Manuscript binding, blind stamped leather over boards, made by the beghards of Maastricht c. 1500. Amsterdam University Library, Ms. I G 12.

In addition to binding books, the beghards of Maastricht, thanks to their relationship with the Capital of Zepperen, also took in students and provided education. The brothers ran a school. As the content of their books reveals, they taught reading and arithmetic and probably writing as well, possibly to create new scribes for their scriptorium. They allowed copyists to write with their own idiomatic scripts. This is significant, because women who made manuscripts in some convents — especially in the western part of the Netherlands — were taught a corporate style, so that their work was indistinguishable from their convent-mates’. In this way, multiple sisters could work on the same manuscript and yet produce a streamlined product that looked consistent through and through. In contrast, the beghards in Maastricht (and in other convents of both genders in the eastern Netherlands) were apparently allowed to keep their own distinctive handwriting. In their books the beghards did not hide the fact that book making was a collaborative process. It is therefore possible to see that Jan van Emmerick worked with several other scribes on various projects. For example, he and two other scribes from the same monastery copied the Pseudo-Bonaventure-Ludolphian Life of Christ ( Weert, GM, Ms. CMW 41). Emmerick inscribed the text on folios 6r–111v and 148r–158v, Adam de Beecke inscribed the text on folios 112r–125r, 136r–147v, and 160r–188v, and the man known in the literature as the ‘Servaas scribe’ (because he partly copied a book about the life of St Servatius now in Leiden) inscribed the text on folios 125v–135v. 23 One of their innovations was to adapt manuscript production by incorporating even more hands, more forms of labour into the final product, without masking the individual qualities of the various contributors.

The beghards also collaborated with women. Not only did the beghards bind Maastricht, RHCL, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv. no. 462 for the female tertiaries in their city, but they also completed the manuscript. Two of the hands in Add. 24332 also appear in the front matter in the women’s manuscript. Specifically, in Maastricht 462, fols 15v-16v contain a calendar and computational tables written by the beghards (fig. 13 and 14). They have traditionally been dated 1515 because of the inscription within the circles, but that number is ambiguous; the words ‘Anno domini IVIV’ may have been written later. There is a second number written to the left of each circle: mvc (=1500), which may be the date when this manuscript was inscribed. These Roman numerals are written in the same hand as the calendar hand and foliator of Add. 24332, that of Jan van Emmerick. Apparently the beghards provided the front matter before binding the sisters’ manuscript. It is also possible that the beghards bound prints into the book, but these have now been removed. 24 The next table, for calculating the golden number, contains clues about now-missing components (fig. 15). Here an offset appears in the form of wet, red border decoration, as if the sisters painted the borders when the page was already in the book; they then closed the manuscript before the paint had fully dried, which resulted in an extensive and messy offset. It is possible that the beghards had placed an uncoloured print in the book, which prompted the owners to embellish it.

Fig. 13  Opening in a prayerbook made in Maastricht, with computational circles dated 1500. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462, fol. 15v-16r.

Fig. 13 Opening in a prayerbook made in Maastricht, with computational circles dated 1500. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462, fol. 15v-16r.

Fig. 14  Diagram for calculating the length of Advent, copied by Jan van Emmerick. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462, fol. 16v-17r.

Fig. 14 Diagram for calculating the length of Advent, copied by Jan van Emmerick. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462, fol. 16v-17r.

Fig. 15  Table with offset from now-missing leaf. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462, fol. 17v-18r.

Fig. 15 Table with offset from now-missing leaf. Maastricht, Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg, 22.001A Handschriften GAM, inv.nr. 462, fol. 17v-18r.

While in Maastricht, I became more aware of the importance of its physical location: it lies on the River Maas, a wide navigable river (fig. 16). From Maastricht, the beghards had good water access to the Rhine, including the Lower Rhine, which was the cradle of printmaking, and to the entire Low Countries, including the entire Maas valley. The wide variety of prints, with xylographic and engraved text in dialects of Dutch and German, is testament to the wide systems of distribution that prints had by the late fifteenth century, and to the centrality of the beghards as traders. They had much to offer in return: book- binding services, woven cloth, reading lessons, prayers for your sorry soul. All these existed in a single economy, along with prints. That is what is fascinating about the beghards’ book: it brings together such a large number of prints from different sources, with wide geographic origins, and testifies to the beghards’ far-reaching network.

Fig. 16  The River Maas, photographed from the bridge, with a view of the medieval Marian church. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Fig. 16 The River Maas, photographed from the bridge, with a view of the medieval Marian church. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

The archives in Maastricht hold the beghards’ cartulary, that is, a transcription of foundational documents ( Maastricht, RHCL, 14.D015, inv. no. 6). According to an entry on fol. 1v, the ‘book is to contain all of the possessions and goods that belonged to the convent’, including ‘all of the books, rolls, and registers’ written since the founding of the convent in 1343. In fact, only the first few pages comprise a cartulary, while further sections reveal facts about their business dealings. Where a late-fifteenth- or early-sixteenth-century scribe found some blank space on fol. 3v, he added a list of monetary values and exchange rates: how many grotes are there in a mark? This list would have served the brothers as they carried out various kinds of trade, with people from the German-speaking and Dutch-speaking lands.

Many of the prints that the Add. 24332 formerly held were from the German-speaking east, but several of them were from the Netherlandish-speaking west. For example, a full-page engraving, used as one of the manuscript leaves (fol. ccc lxvii ) (e-fig. 2), has extensive engraved text around it in Dutch, a sure sign that it was made in the Dutch-speaking lands.

BM 1861,1109.645 — IHS monogram ( e-fig. 2)

IHS monogram, as a full-page image. Netherlandish engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.645.

The fluttering text consists of a prayer to the ‘Sweet name Jesus and Mary’ in the vernacular. 25 However, the beghard has not placed it in the book to accompany a prayer to the sacred monogram, but rather to preface a prayer to St Bernardino. Perhaps there simply were no prints available that represented that saint, so the beghard instead embellished his prayer with the symbol with which Bernardino was most closely associated, the sacred monogram in flames. This example not only attests to the wide geographical area from which the beghards were getting their prints, but it also underscored two other issues, which become themes in the current study. First, printmakers were often producing items at a distance from their customers, and as such they were not necessarily producing exactly what the recipients needed. The second point follows from the first: consumers often had to made subtle adjustments to items they received, or to use the imperfect subjects as the best available alternatives.

The beghards were innovative book makers interested in streamlining the traditional method of making manuscripts. They made books for their own use and perhaps for sale as well; either way, they were therefore interested in things like the affordability of the books and the ease of making them. They were early adopters of using paper for making books of hours, which had almost always been on parchment. They took their accumulated craft skills and applied them to various cultural products. Poised as they were on the River Maas, they had many more opportunities to trade than other (semi-)monastics would have had. Most important for their innovation, perhaps, was that as bookbinders, they saw their neighbours’ books, and all the new innovations, pass under their noses. One of those innovations was taking sheaves of prints, cutting them apart, and pasting them into the pages of books. In that light, it is fitting that the attribute of the beghards’ patron saint Bartholomew is the knife.

Israhel’s Roundels

Now I knew that the beghards of Maastricht made Add. 24332 around 1501 and that the manuscript had had some quantity of prints removed from it. I possessed (a scan of) a photograph indicating that at least one of those prints had been made by Israhel van Meckenem, proof from a fragment left in the manuscript itself that it originally included woodcuts, as well as engravings, and an indication that at least some of the removed folios bearing prints might be preserved somewhere. But where? The photograph with the St Barbara documented a leaf that was no longer in the manuscript. Therefore, my biggest question remained: where was that leaf with the roundel of St Barbara? Would St Barbara lead me to the rest of the missing prints? I put this question to Paul Taylor at the Warburg photograph archive. He indicated that the St Barbara leaf had been photographed for a project to document the engravings of Israhel van Meckenem housed in the British Museum, and that the Warburg archive possessed two more related roundels, similarly mounted. One of these represented SS Peter and Paul, standing together with their attributes (fig. 17). I could see that it was folio ccc lxxij , one of the folios removed from Add. 24332. The photograph of the other Israhel print showed the roundel with a male saint pasted to what must have been the verso side of a folio, one without visible foliation at the top (fig. 18).

Fig. 17  Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing SS Peter and Paul, standing with their attributes. Unlabelled documentary photograph, housed at the Warburg Institute, London.

Fig. 17 Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing SS Peter and Paul, standing with their attributes. Unlabelled documentary photograph, housed at the Warburg Institute, London.

Fig. 18  Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing St Wolfgang, who has been transformed into St Servatius. Unlabelled documentary photograph, housed at the Warburg Institute, London.

Fig. 18 Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing St Wolfgang, who has been transformed into St Servatius. Unlabelled documentary photograph, housed at the Warburg Institute, London.

Other projects and a new job as a curator of manuscripts in The Netherlands, a post I held beginning in September 2006, prevented me from going to the British Museum right away to look for Barbara, Servatius, and Peter and Paul. My questions vexed me, and when I finally had the chance, I spent a day in the BM’s Prints and Drawings Study Room on 13 December 2006. In my life as a manuscript historian so far I have visited dozens of museums and libraries to consult hundreds, if not thousands, of manuscripts and early prints, but I still get a nervous, excited feeling when I am going to see a special object that I have only read about or seen in a microfilm. Usually I cannot sleep the night before, especially if I am about to visit a library or collection I have never visited before. Having flown into London the previous evening and had a brief, excited sleep, I walked into the Prints and Drawings Study Room the next morning and thought I had stepped back in time. Whereas the rest of the building has been modernised, the Study Room retains its wooden desks, glass cases, and card catalogues from an earlier era (fig. 19). A sign on the wall near the entrance indicates that visitors have to declare their own property, meaning that people sometimes come into the collection to compare an impression of their own print with something in the collection. On any given day there is usually someone playing the part of a male nineteenth-century aesthete, complete with a monocle and a choice titbit from his collection.

Fig. 19  The interior of the Prints & Drawings Study Room at the British Museum, London. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Fig. 19 The interior of the Prints & Drawings Study Room at the British Museum, London. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

The room’s interior reflected a past glory, a time when craftsmen were charged with the task of making hundreds of hardwood bookshelves, with dovetail joins and bevelled glass windows, with materials brought from British colonies. This room swelled with the loot of the empire. It housed items from the empire’s far-flung territories and its deep-reaching past. As I later learned, in the mid-nineteenth century, the Museum was accessioning hundreds of objects a day, and therefore must have been employing a bevy of junior curators, clerks, and technical assistants to prepare the incoming items for storage. At the BM, the prints are affixed to cardboard mounts and stored in boxes, most of which were made in the nineteenth century during the collection’s growth spurt. These boxes are lined with the same kind of marble paper used as paste-downs in bookbindings made in this period. It is astonishingly beautiful. The values of craft are everywhere in attendance.

Within a short time, the staff at the BM had located the print depicting St Barbara by Israhel. In three dimensions and in full colour, the manuscript folio emerged from the storage box, with a red penwork border framing the roundel that formed an extra, perceptible layer (e-fig. 3). Sure enough, two other folios from Add. 24332 that Paul Taylor had shown me in photographs were also mounted on the same board, both with printed roundels by Israhel: folio ccc lxxij (with SS Peter and Paul) (e-fig. 4) and the verso of folio ccc lxiii , with St Wolfgang (e-fig. 5). In the same box were other mattes with prints attributed to Israhel. In other words, the nineteenth-century cataloguers had grouped them together in this box in order to associate like with like. Imposing categories on them was part of oeuvre-creation. Museum assistants had removed the prints from their context as devotional objects in a religious manuscript and had put them instead in the context of a named artist and his oeuvre.

BM 1861,1109.660 — Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch ( e-fig. 3)

Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing St Barbara, standing with her attribute, formerly part of Add. 24332. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.660.

BM 1861,1109.679 — Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch ( e-fig. 4)

Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing SS Peter and Paul, formerly part of Add. 24332. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.679.

BM 1861,1109.680 — Israhel van Meckenem ( e-fig. 5)

Israhel van Meckenem, printed roundel with St Wolfgang, who has been transformed into St Servatius, pasted into the initial of manuscript folio, formerly fol. ccc lxiii of London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.680.

When Israhel produced his roundels, he made entire sheets with thematic unity that users could cut apart. Two of these sheets from the series of saints survive intact in the British Museum (e-fig. 6) and (e-fig. 7).

BM 1873,0809.642 — Israhel van Meckenem ( e-fig. 6)

Israhel van Meckenem, sheet of six roundels depicting Christ as Salvator Mundi and five standing saints. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1873,0809.642.

BM 1873,0809.643 — Israhel van Meckenem ( e-fig. 7)

Israhel van Meckenem, sheet of six roundels depicting pairs of standing apostles. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1873,0809.643.

However, book makers also used them and incorporated these and other designs into a variety of projects (see Chapter 4 ). When the beghards used the prints, they cut them from the sheet and pasted them onto the beginnings of texts, where they created, as James Marrow has termed them, ‘instant historiated initials’. 26 It is often repeated that these circular prints, each about 34 millimetres in diameter, were made as designs for goldsmiths. Whether that was their intended function or not, book makers soon found another use for them as designs for quickly producing historiated initials. The beghards pasted at least three of Israhel’s roundels onto three different folios of Add. 24332. When those folios were cut out of the manuscript 360 years later, they were mounted on a board together (1861 ,1109.660; 1861 ,1109.679; and 1861 ,1109.680). Possibly copying designs by the Master ES, Israhel engraved these roundels in eight sheets of six roundels each, totalling 48 small prints. Most of the sheets have been cut apart, and a complete set of the 48 prints has not yet come to light.

The now detached folio cccc lxxij has an engraving depicting St Barbara made by Israhel (e-fig. 8), which was trimmed out of the seventh sheet in the series (e-fig. 9).

BM 1861 ,1109.660 — Detached folio cccc lxxij ( e-fig. 8)

Detached folio cccc lxxij with an engraving depicting St Barbara made by Israhel van Meckenem. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.660.

BM 1873,0809.642 — Israhel van Meckenem ( e-fig. 9)

Israhel van Meckenem, sheet of six roundels depicting Christ as Salvator Mundi and five standing saints. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1873,0809.642.

There is a tiny slip of the burin in the circle around her, so that the circle has a tiny black tail; the same mark also appears in the full sheet of Israhel’s prints. Working quickly, Israhel was not a perfectionist. His round frames provided guidelines for their user, who has carefully cut just outside the frame in order to isolate Barbara’s image within a roundel. This has been made to fill an initial O , which has then been painted with red decoration. Clearly, the scribe pasted in the image first, and then red paint was applied around it, so that the whole ensemble constructs a seven-line historiated initial. Whereas the rubricator’s ink is more purple (cooler), the decorator’s paint is more orange (warmer). This suggests that the process of constructing the multi-layered page took place in several stages.

The same sheet of roundels (1873,0809.642) divulged another image that the beghards used, one now glued to the verso side of folio ccc lxiii (e-fig. 10).

BM 1861, 1109.680 — Detached folio ccc lxiii ( e-fig. 10)

Detached folio ccc lxiii , verso side. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.680.

This roundel presents a case of transformed identities. Israhel had depicted St Wolfgang, whose attribute is an axe; he was especially venerated in Austria and Bavaria, where Israhel was apparently also marketing prints. However, St Wolfgang was not particularly venerated in Maastricht. As if the scribe of Add. 24332 were taking the advice he had inscribed on folio ii (14r), that if devotees could not find a devotion to the saint of their choice, they should find a similar saint and simply change the name, he has scratched out Wolfgang’s axe, and added a gasping serpent below the figure, in order to rechristen him Servatius. Just to ensure that users would properly understand the saint’s new identity, the scribe has added the words ‘Sanctus Servatius’ in the white space of the print.

Was it Jan van Emmerick who realised that the first word in this prayer was not going to be a D or O , but rather an S ? Because an S does not easily accommodate an image inside it, the scribe has not cut out the print as a roundel, but as a square: it would not form a historiated initial, but a seven-line ‘miniature’. The decorator (also Emmerick?) has then made a square border around the circular one, and added some decoration in the interstices. This fact demonstrates that the scribe had the whole sheet of roundels: they were not delivered to him already trimmed from their support. He was probably cutting them out as he progressed in his writing of the manuscript. If he had the entire sheets and was cutting them as he wrote, then he may well have used the rest of the roundels elsewhere in the project.

Scrutinising this page reveals, however, that Israhel’s print could not have been the scribe’s first solution for this space in the manuscript. There is some glue still showing at the top of this print, which suggests that a slightly larger print (or miniature) filled this space. Whatever was represented in that image must have been even less satisfactory than the prints of St Wolfgang-as-Servatius. One can imagine a scenario in which the scribe, nearly finished with his task of writing the manuscript, was left with a niggling feeling that he had not got St Servatius — the patron saint of his own city — quite right. He found the image depicting St Wolfgang among the partially trimmed stacks of prints, and decided to doctor it. He then removed the previous print and put in the new Wolfgang/Servatius, which is slightly smaller. When he pasted it in, he covered — ever so slightly — the text on the line below. Specifically, this one covers the ascender of ‘bidt’ below the print, indicating that the print was applied after the writing was done.

None of the three engravings by Israhel van Meckenem has been painted but, rather, each was left in its raw printed form, with the fine engraved lines conveying rich drapery. Red and blue initials were painted in after the writing was completed and the prints were pasted in. Some of this decorative paint has splashed onto the prints (for example, onto the image of Peter and Paul) (e-fig. 11).

BM 1861, 1109.679 — Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch ( e-fig. 11)

Manuscript leaf written in Middle Dutch, with an engraved roundel by Israhel van Meckenem representing SS Peter and Paul, formerly part of Add. 24332. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.679.

This helps to clarify the order of operations in constructing the manuscript: write, leaving space for images; then paste them in, and continue writing below or next to the print; then embellish with red and blue paint. As I continued to study the manuscript, I would find further nuances in this process.

That was all I could accomplish in a day in the Prints and Drawings Study Room at the BM. The opening hours are constricted, and I was still trying to feel my way around the place. It usually takes me several visits to a library or archive to learn the ropes. The other missing folios could not be far, but I did not know how to get to them. I could not return to London to keep looking for the prints until 20 April 2007, when more clues revealed themselves.

The Logic of Accession Numbers

I was run ragged from my job as curator of manuscripts at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek of the Netherlands, and felt I had aged about ten years. Going to London and immersing myself in someone else’s collection was a lovely escape. The curator Sheila O’Connell was on duty in the Study Room the next time I came in, in April 2007, and I explained that I wanted to find the rest of the prints that had been removed from Add . 24332. Immediately, she brought me the Register for 1861 and explained how the logic of the accession numbers at the BM could help solve my problem (fig. 20). Until a computerised system replaced it, new acquisitions were entered in a tall, lined ledger book, with one line for each incoming item. The curator would write a short description of each print in the Register, and at the same time assign it an accession number: the first four digits represent the year of acquisition, the next four are the month and day, and the final digits consist of a consecutive numbering of the prints entered on that date. These digits were stamped onto the back of the print with what must have been a rubber-stamper with moveable parts. Looking at the Register from the mid- to late nineteenth century, I was struck by the sheer quantity of acquisitions.

Fig. 20  Page from Register for 9 November 1861. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Fig. 20 Page from Register for 9 November 1861. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Israhel van Meckenem’s roundel depicting St Barbara which I had come to see had the accession number 1861, 1109.660, which meant that it was the 660th print to be entered in the Register on 9 November 1861. As the British Empire was thriving and throbbing, the keepers of its culture accessioned objects into the national museum at breakneck speed. To deal with acquisitions efficiently enough, the curators wrote only the briefest description of new items. On that date, items 632–693 were listed as a group as having all come in a single batch from a Mr Tross. This was Edwin Tross (1822–1875), an art, book, and print dealer who lived at 5 rue Neuve des Petits Champs in Paris. When the curator registered the prints from the manuscript in 1861, he categorised them according to three major divisions: ‘Early Flemish and German prints’ (632–645); ‘Specimens of Engravings in the Criblée’ (646–656; I will delve into the meaning of Criblée later); ‘Small Figures Cut from Prints’ (657–693). Among these three categories, further divisions were made based on technique, style, and hand. Many of the prints formed series, and the curator-connoisseur reconstructed those series (which had been broken up when they were pasted into the manuscript) when the prints were distributed throughout its pages based on their subjects.

With the same bureaucracy that Britain was exporting to its colonies, the British Museum was keeping different kinds of records in different ledgers. Another book contained records of financial transactions. In one entry, dated 6 November 1861, Mr Carpenter, then Keeper of Prints, wrote to the Trustees to ask for funds, including £35 to purchase ‘20 early Flemish and German prints’ (fig. 21). Although the details are slightly off, this entry probably refers to the prints now accessioned as 1861, 1109. 632–693. The prints entered the collection three days later. Some staff at the British Museum suggest that this wording indicates that the prints were already separate from the manuscript in which they were pasted. I disagree. I think it is clear that the Museum bought the entire manuscript and then cut out the prints and accessioned them. The wording may indicate that they considered the manuscript a mere vehicle for transporting the small printed goods. Evidence includes that the manuscript itself was kept, perhaps because it was in an old binding. Later, when I returned to the British Library, I noticed that a note at the back of Add . 24332 proclaims that the manuscript was transferred from the Department of Prints and Drawings. (Until the British Library was formed in 1997, its book collections formed the library of the British Museum, so this would have meant transferring the object from one department to another.) This note demonstrates that the Museum purchased the entire manuscript. The Department of Prints and Drawings was in possession of that manuscript — its binding, paper folios, and pasted-on prints — but it passed on the elements that were not of interest, that is, the binding and the text pages lacking prints.

Fig. 21  Letter from Mr Carpenter, dated 6 November 1861. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Fig. 21 Letter from Mr Carpenter, dated 6 November 1861. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

The prints in Add . 24332 must have been its most attractive feature, and the manuscript must have looked quite dishevelled when it arrived in November 1861, missing four quires and half its prints. The following month, December, the manuscript, now fully denuded of its prints, was transferred to the Museum’s Department of Manuscripts. There the manuscript was given its accession number, Add . 24332. The accession number system at the British Museum (and later the British Library) works like this: manuscripts that entered the Library within a complete collection retained the name of that collection and received a sequential number. 27 For example, the Harley manuscripts formerly belonged to Robert Harley (1661–1724) and Edward Harley (1689–1741), earls of Oxford; their collection was purchased for Britain in 1753. Those manuscripts that did not enter the Library in a complete collection were added to the ‘Additional’ manuscripts, and assigned a number in chronological sequence according to date of entry. Add . 24332 is the penultimate manuscript to have entered the collection in 1861; thus, the Department of Manuscripts processed it in December that year, shortly after the Department of Prints had handed it over.

In the Department of Manuscripts, the newly christened Add . 24332 received an inscription on its eighth paper flyleaf, which reads: ‘Received from the Department of Prints, 12 Dec. 1861 (Purch. of M. Tross of Paris)’. The note continues on the verso side of that same leaf: ‘Mem. The missing leaves, initial letters etc had been cut out before this volume was transferred to my department. FM’. It required little digging to learn that FM is Frederic Madden (1801–1873), the Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum from 1837 to 1866, who was apparently aware that a misdeed had been carried out in the Prints and Drawings Department of his own institution. It may have been Madden who ordered that conservation work be performed on the mutilated manuscript. Someone in the book conservation laboratory added sixty-two blank folios to the manuscript to replace the missing leaves; the placement of these blank leaves is indicated in the Appendix . 28 The motivation for this infilling may have been structural: attaching a blank leaf to a half-bifolium whose partner had been excised would help to keep the singleton from falling out of the binding. The conservation staff rebound the manuscript in its original boards, which are covered with its panel-stamped leather, although they replaced the spine (see fig. 2 ). The 62 added leaves preserved the thickness of the book block so that it would still fit into its old binding. This detective work required my darting back and forth between the British Library and the British Museum, which are now about a mile apart. The next step was to study all the prints and figure out how they fitted into the book.

Back at the BM, I began requesting the 62 items, and they arrived in a haphazard order as the Study Room assistant brought them over. They were housed in more than a dozen archival boxes, so I made it through only a few items on the first day. In 2007, staff at the BM would deliver an entire box with prints mounted on mattes, plus a pair of white gloves, and going through the boxes took a deliciously long time, attenuated by the donning and doffing of gloves, synchronized with alternating gestures of shifting mattes and manipulating a track pad. Slow research also meant that I took notes for this project, plus what turned out to be notes for four further articles, based on the other prints that arrived unsolicited in the boxes. Now, ten years later, they only bring the matte containing the requested print, so the opportunities for serendipity have evaporated. This new efficiency kills many opportunities for knowledge generation. Between the morning and afternoon sessions at the Study Room on the fourth floor of the BM, one can run over to the Warburg and get a bit more work done, or go to the London Review Bookshop and keep typing, or even just sit on the benches in the fourth-floor galleries and keep working as long as the early-gen laptop battery holds out. Since it involved planes, trains, storage of what became terabytes of visual material, and running between institutions, this was slow research punctuated by fast movements. One has to move inchmeal in an archive to ensure that the prints are flat and safe, not curled or at risk of creasing, to note down the codes and numbers for each item that represent different approaches to cataloguing. Scrutinizing is hard work. This includes noticing features of the object itself — its substrate, ink, quality of line, the kind of colouring it received (freehand or with a template? Wash, gauche, or lake?), its offsets, the contours of its paper, notes and text (handwritten or printed? Original or later?) — as well as features of the object in its new context (How has it been trimmed? What else is on the matte?). For the sake of the archive, I wash my hands like a surgeon, take Vitamin D, and avoid people (especially children) who might have colds. I wouldn’t want to risk sneezing on the fifteenth century.

That first day, the few boxes of prints I worked through were enough to accelerate my heartbeat and make me gasp in recognition and delight. I savoured the items in each box, perusing every item on every matte, taking notes in a burgeoning file, stopping to look things up in Lehrs or Schreiber, carefully lifting the prints on their hinges to look at the back, note down glue stains, and read the texts. I transcribed these texts partly in order to get to know the hands, hoping to store them in my memory to identify the same hand some time in the distant future. For the next two years, from spring 2007, on many of my free days, I would fly to London, go straight from Heathrow to the BM and call up some more boxes of prints. This project, I am afraid, was not ecological. I tried to assuage my elaborate energy expenditure by offsetting it slightly, bringing my organic waste from Holland to London in my suitcase, and feeding it to the inhabitants of our London wormery. Regularly flying banana peels across the English Channel made me feel a bit better.

Roundels attributed to Israhel were stored in boxes containing other works by the same engraver, and the rest of the prints were doled out into numerous boxes for anonymous Netherlandish and German artists. They were organised, in other words, first by named personalities, such as Israhel van Meckenem, and then the anonymous works were organised by medium and ‘school’, so that all the anonymous German woodcuts, for example, were housed together, and the anonymous Netherlandish engravings were housed together. Box after box disgorged the membra disjecta from the beghards’ manuscript, each item now re-categorised according to a nineteenth-century connoisseur’s classification system, all amid a sea of the membra disjecta from other manuscripts.

At the British Museum I pored over the prints and looked for patterns. I thought about the fifteenth-century process of acquiring prints, cutting them up, and pasting them into a manuscript. I thought about the reverse: the nineteenth-century process of acquiring manuscripts, cutting them up, and pasting them onto mattes.

As I waded through these bulky, unwieldy boxes, the leaves of Add . 24332 appeared, one after the other. These leaves allowed me to reconstruct one of the most fascinating manuscripts made in a monastic context around 1500. Sheila O’Connell let me have access to one of the department’s computers, and gave me permission to download all the images of the fifteenth-century prints, which had recently been digitised, and also showed me how to search in the department’s database. All this information was to go online shortly and is now available publicly; the links appear throughout this text. At the British Library I transcribed all the rubrics in Add . 24332 and collated the manuscript with the help of an elaborate diagram.

The Knife as a Tool for Creativity

After experiments by the Synthetic Cubists, Kurt Schwitters and other artists working in collage would harness the knife as a tool for creativity in the period between the First and Second World Wars. Schwitters worked alongside the Dada movement, along with fellow collage artist Hannah Höch, who used photomontage to comment on the absurd, which she ‘ cut with a kitchen knife’, as one of her titles put it. 29 Long before, though, in the fifteenth century, book makers such as the beghards were using the knife to isolate bits of printed paper and bring them together into new arrangements. At times the beghards even seem to have been aware of the absurdity of some of their creations, since the medium of papier collé lends itself to impossible jumps in scale between pictorial elements. They played with this visual dissonance, for example on a page with an engraving depicting St Mark with his lion: it has been printed onto a full page that has been inserted as folio ccc liii , with the image on the verso (e-fig. 12).

BM 1861, 1109.643 — Leaf from the beghards’ manuscript ( e-fig. 12)

Leaf from the beghards’ manuscript with an engraving depicting St Mark, sometimes attributed to Israhel van Meckenem, and another smaller engraving depicting a winged lion. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.643.

But there was empty space in the image, and the beghards had some small prints lying around, so they pasted a tiny print of the winged lion onto the horizon line so that the two lions gaze at each other. In red ink the rubricator has built a small chapel around the added lion, as if to acknowledge that the two beasts are in different scales and separate ontological levels. The same red ink has been used to make a free-hand line around the frame, thereby presenting a printed line and a hand-drawn one moving in parallel around the image.

That the beghards deployed several roundels from Israhel suggests that they were obtaining entire sheets of roundels and cutting them apart. One series depicts six female saints in half-length. Most of these have been deployed as instant historiated initials, in the same way that the roundels with Barbara, Peter and Paul, and Wolfgang/ Servatius were pasted in as initials. These virgin roundels are attributed to a German engraver known as the Master of the Flower Borders ( Meister der Blumenrahmen), after a series of prints he made with flower borders. 30 The series of six engravings are all about 22 millimetres in diameter, each one depicting a female saint seen in bust-length, with her attribute. The prints are:

BM, 1861, 1109.659 — Apollonia ( e-fig. 13)

St Apollonia roundel (engraving), pasted into initial before a prayer to that saint. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.659.

BM, 1861,1109 .662 — Catherine ( e-fig. 14)

St Catherine roundel (engraving), pasted into initial before a prayer to that saint. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.662.

BM, 1861,1109. 663 — Cecilia ( e-fig. 15)

St Cecilia? roundel (engraving), pasted into initial before a prayer to that saint. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.663.

BM, 1861,1109. 664 — Columba ( e-fig. 16)

St Columba? roundel (engraving), pasted into initial before a prayer to that saint. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.664.

BM, 1861,1109. 673 — Maria Magdalene ( e-fig. 17)

Mary Magdalene roundel (engraving), pasted into initial before a prayer to that saint. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.673.

BM, 1861,1109.674 St Margaret, used here as Dymphna ( e-fig. 18)

St Margaret roundel (engraving), pasted into initial before a prayer to St Dymphna. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.674.

Five of the six prints are hand-painted in a similar style, with bold solid colours for the saints’ robes and backgrounds (fig. 22). A likely scenario is that the beghards were buying groups of prints, possibly as intact sheets that they could then cut apart and paste into manuscripts, and that the sheets of prints were already hand-painted (indeed, there are no other prints from the manuscript painted in this way). In fact, one can see that they were printed together on the same sheet, because they appear semi-intact in another manuscript prayerbook, Vienna, ÖNB, ser. Nova 12715. 31 This prayerbook was probably made by nuns, who added printed images, both large and small, to the pages. In some cases, they stitched the images to the pages with brightly coloured silk, as if turning the mechanics of attachment into a form of embellishment. Given that groups of small roundels appear together in this manuscript, it makes sense that the engraver who produced them sold them as a set. This scribe pasted the engraved roundels representing virgin martyrs (figs 23 and 24) on the recto and verso of a folio entirely given over to prints. The manuscript has become a scrapbook for devotional prints. Telling in the beghards’ manuscript, however, is that the prints were clearly made as a sheet that could be cut up.

Fig. 22  Engraved roundels representing virgins, some used as initials in the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.659, 662, 663, 664, 673, 674.

Fig. 22 Engraved roundels representing virgins, some used as initials in the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.659, 662, 663, 664, 673, 674.

Fig. 23  Folio from a prayerbook with three engravings by the Master of the Flower Borders glued to it and one sewn to it. Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, ser. Nova 12715, fol. 29r.

Fig. 23 Folio from a prayerbook with three engravings by the Master of the Flower Borders glued to it and one sewn to it. Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, ser. Nova 12715, fol. 29r.

Fig. 24  Opening from a prayerbook with three engravings by the Master of the Flower Borders glued to it and one sewn to it. Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, ser. Nova 12715, fols 29v-30r.

Fig. 24 Opening from a prayerbook with three engravings by the Master of the Flower Borders glued to it and one sewn to it. Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, ser. Nova 12715, fols 29v-30r.

In Add . 24332, the roundels are carefully trimmed, and capital letters are often formed around them. Many suffrages begin with the exclamation of lament, ‘O!’, which is onomatopoeic with wailing in Dutch (and in English). This is handy for the scribe since it is a large, full, round letter — the perfect shape to historiate — as in the roundel depicting Mary Magdalene ( e-fig. 17 ). The suffrage to this saint commences with a letter O , which the hand-coloured print fills. Likewise, the engraving depicting St Catherine used to historiate the letter G, for ‘ God gruet u’, at the beginning of a prayer to St Catherine ( e-fig. 14 ).

Things have gone slightly awry, however, in the prayer to St Dymphna or Dingen ( e-fig. 18 ). It begins not with an O but an I (‘Ic bid u, o alre heilichste joffrou ende mertelersse St Dympne’) so there was no letter with a large empty centre into which to paste the roundel. Instead the scribe has pasted Dymphna’s image into the first line of the text, not trimmed into a circle but cut so that it has a straight bottom edge, which then sits on the ruled line. The image interrupts the rubric, appearing between the word ‘St’ and the word ‘Dingen’. This solution is interesting because it reveals something about the print trade: it confirms that the beghard bought an entire sheet with six female martyrs, untrimmed, and that he trimmed them himself according to his needs. I can imagine the beghard with his stack of prints, a plan for the order of the prayerbook sketched out, and writing along with trimming and glueing.

How the small prints were pasted in reveals the process by which the beghards wrote and assembled the manuscript. For example, the scribe planned that the prints depicting SS Catherine, Apollonia, and Cecilia ( e-fig. 13 ) ( e-fig. 15 ) should fill initials near the tops of their respective folios. In contrast, when the first initial in the prayer did not have an open letter, the scribe had to come up with a different strategy for affixing the print. In the case with the print representing a female figure with a small bear, whom the scribe has interpreted as St Columba ( e-fig. 16 ), he has pushed her image to the end of the line.

Of course, all fifteenth-century printmakers used knives, burins, and other tools that cut and removed material in the service of image-making. Why should they not have used knives in the next stage of image-production as well?

Silhouettes and Doubles

Silhouetting was the ultimate in knife-wielding work — cutting around the main figure in a print and discarding its background. Whereas the roundels were designed to be cut out, the large figurative prints were not. Cutting these out required a more inventive act of creativity, rather than doing the expected thing. Some prints have been silhouetted so that the justification of the handwritten text flows around their outlines. For example, the scribe trimmed the image of St John holding the swooning Virgin, one of the prints still left in Add . 24332 (see fig. 6 ). These figures must have been cut from a larger Crucifixion image, but now the trimmed image of Mary is nestled up to a prayer to the Virgin’s sorrows, which laments, ‘The true mother of God stood sorrowing by the cross where her son hung’ (‘Die werde moeder gods stont herde droevich bij den cruce daer haer lieve sone aenhinck’). Thus, whereas in the original print, the image of Mary faced an image of the cross, now she faces a textual description of the cross. This mise en page demonstrates that the scribes who wrote the manuscript were also intimately involved with selecting, trimming, and pasting the images.

Trimming and pasting the print can change its meaning entirely, as with a small image pasted onto a page with a prayer to St Elzéar of Sabran (or Elzearius, Elchearius), whose name is underlined (fol. cccc xxv ) (e-fig. 19).

BM 1861,1109.665 — Engraving depicting a generic figure ( e-fig. 19)

Engraving depicting a generic figure, trimmed and used to represent St Elzéar. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.665.

Of course the small engraving had not originally been intended to depict St Elzéar, who is utterly obscure. Rather, the figure may have come from a Crucifixion group, where it would have represented St John at the foot of the cross; but here the scribe has silhouetted the male figure and thereby cut off any distinguishing features that he might have had. In its new context, the figure could serve as Elzéar, or any other (male) figure the user wanted to portray.

The grandest of these recontextualisations accompanies the prayer for the consecration of the church of St Francis in Maastricht. Unusually, this page has not one but two prints pasted to it (e-fig. 20).

BM 1861,1109.686 and 687 — Prayer for the consecration ( e-fig. 20)

Prayer for the consecration of a Franciscan church with two prints, one representing a Franciscan, the other a church. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.686 and 687.

After the beghard cropped the images of St Francis and the church closely, he arranged them on the page, pasted them down, and inscribed a prayer to the consecration of the church so that the text flows around the images. In other words, he has incorporated the silhouetted images into the fabric of the page. He has accomplished these acts of cutting and pasting so that they magnify the meaning of the prayer: the kneeling figure seems to be down below, directing the words of the prayer towards the represented church. The words separate the supplicant and his object of devotion, but they also form the ether in which these elements float. The consecration prayer is for a particular church, the Franciscan church in Maastricht. Although the beghards’ house is now destroyed, their church, at the end of the same street, still stands.

Before the beghard silhouetted it, the image almost certainly formed part of a narrative scene showing St Francis receiving the stigmata, in a composition similar to the painting by Jan van Eyck (e-fig. 21).

Jan van Eyck ( e-fig. 21)

Jan van Eyck, St Francis receiving the Stigmata , ca. 1430-32. Oil on parchment on panel. Philadelphia Museum of Art.

As in the painting, St Francis appears in three-quarter view, kneeling. The beghard has cut out the figure of the saint, thereby excising Francis’s narrative and attributes. In effect, the beghard has turned a specific man, St Francis, into a generic Franciscan male ‘everyman’, one who stands for each of the beghards using the book. Every male Franciscan is a copy — or print — of Francis.

A leaf with a pasted-on image of St Benedict offers another opportunity to understand how the scribe deployed silhouetting as a creative tool (e-fig. 22).

BM 1861,1109.641 — St Benedict ( e-fig. 22)

St Benedict, engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.641.

This ruled leaf has a roman numeral ( ccc xvi ) on the other side, so it is clear that the print was pasted on a verso. It accompanies a rubric and prayer to St Benedict, which started on the recto and continued on this verso. The image was given a light wash, carefully silhouetted, and then pasted on so that the figure fills part of the text block, and forms its left boundary. St Benedict is integrated into the text, and he seems to gaze at it. In this case, the knife-wielder has taken the opportunity to trim away the background, frame, and landscape behind the saint in order to bring the figure closer to the text. Rather than standing alone on the page, St Benedict is nestled around a blanket of words. The scribe has even aligned the print so that the saint faces the prayer dedicated to him, and so that both the saint and the prayer seem to press down on the devil below his feet. This means that someone, probably the scribe, was using the knife as a creative tool, a tool for rethinking the mise en page .

Although I am interested in the role of the St Benedict engraving (641) in the manuscript and its relationship to the other prints in the book, previous scholarship has focused on the print’s style and its relatively high level of technical accomplishment. According to Lehrs, Israhel van Meckenem made the print, but another engraver retouched the plate. 32 Lehrs also calls this an ‘early work’ of the artist, as an added form of apology, to explain the print’s low quality.

Lehrs’s description also conveys an element of German nationalism. He notes that the print has been silhouetted, partially coloured, and ‘pasted to the leaf of a Lower German manuscript next to a prayer to St Benedict’. 33 The electronic Register for this item repeats this information. But the manuscript is not in fact Lower German; rather, it is written in Middle Dutch. (British cataloguers routinely refer to the entire language group as ‘ Flemish’, which also reveals a cultural bias.) Lehrs, a German, viewed history through the lenses of his own nationality. Nearly every cataloguer wants to see signs of early innovation in his own culture.

The print of St Benedict was mounted to a matte at the BM with another, similar print also depicting St Benedict. Examining them together reveals something about how the team of beghards considered the aesthetics of prints (e-fig. 23).

BM 1861,1109.640 — St Benedict ( e-fig. 23)

St Benedict, engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.640.

They are not impressions of the same plate, but are comparable in terms of subject matter, layout, and size. Both are unique impressions. The other side of print 640 has been ruled and inscribed with the folio number ccc lxxviii , and the end of a prayer to St Paul and the beginning of one to St Dierick, a much less well-known saint. It seems that the beghard judged the relative quality of the two prints: he allowed the better of the two to represent Benedict himself (641), and chose the worse one to stand as a proxy for Dierick (640). As a consequence of this choice, the beghard treated the two prints differently. He trimmed the saint and the demon on which he stands from a larger sheet, and pasted the silhouetted print on the text page so that the left edge of the text follows the saint’s head and shoulders. He left the other print of St Benedict intact, and treated it as a leaf of the manuscript by ruling on the back and writing on it. Lacking an image depicting St Dierick, the beghard found that the lower-quality image of St Benedict, who was also an abbot, was close enough.

In 1861 the British Museum curator saw a relationship between the two prints and placed them on the same mount. Lehrs had suggested that both prints were made by Israhel, but touched up by another engraver, and Friedrich Wilhelm Hollstein (1888–1957, a German print dealer who moved to Amsterdam in 1937), later questioned their relationship to Israhel altogether. Both the beghard and Lehrs saw in the prints what they wanted to see. The beghard turned an image of St Benedict into one of St Dierick, and Lehrs turned the prints into objets d’art by a famous, nameable artist. Both the beghard and connoisseur to read images through the lenses of their respective judgements.

Delving into the boxes, I realised that there were several cases in which the scribe had more than one image representing a particular saint, more than necessary. He therefore manipulated their identities. One pair of engraved duplicates depicts St Anne with the Virgin and Christ Child. For one of these (e-fig. 24), the expressionless, stiff figures (where are St Anne’s knees?) sit in an unconvincing interior space (where is the organ-playing angel sitting?). The other engraving of the same subject is more fluid and expressive, and is signed by an engraver ‘OV’ or ‘GV’ (e-fig. 25).

BM 1861,1109.634 — St Anne with Virgin and Child ( e-fig. 24)

St Anne with Virgin and Child, engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.634.

BM 1861,1109.635 — St Anne with Virgin and Child ( e-fig. 25)

St Anne with Virgin and Child, engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.635.

Although they have the same subject, the two prints fulfil different functions in the manuscript. On the back of 634 is the end of a prayer to Mary and the beginning of one to St Joest. Apparently, the scribe meant this image to enhance the prayer to Mary, who does indeed appear in the image. Print 635 originally accompanied a prayer to St Anne, which consists of a contrafact of the Ave Maria, to be said before an image of St Anne. By ‘contrafact’ I mean a non-humorous parody, a prayer that keeps the same rhythm and structure as a familiar tune (or prayer), but changes the words. As with many contrafacts, this one riffs on the Ave Maria, rewritten slightly so that it is relevant to St Anne instead of her daughter. In other words, he used this print, which has more expressive figures, a more convincing interior, and more ornate decoration, to represent St Anne. A third image depicting St Anne found a resting place at the beginning of the prayers to St Anne on folio ccc xci , but this has been cut out. From these placements, one can deduce a few rules: the scribe must have had several images of St Anne before him, and put some of them in the section of the prayerbook with prayers to her. There are so many prayers to the Virgin that he did not have enough images of her to furnish every prayer; therefore, he reached for a print in which Mary figures as a secondary character and applied it to a Marian prayer. As in the case of the two images of St Benedict, he made a quality judgement: that the best print (the most beautiful?) depicting St Anne would accompany a prayer to her, and the second-tier images, those of middling quality, would be distributed elsewhere. This evidence suggests that the beghards used their creativity to adapt to the new rigidity of print technology, where the printers were anticipating their needs but not quite getting it right.

The Thin Red Line

Placing the prints was intimately linked with writing the manuscript. That the scribe was silhouetting some prints suggests that he had a stack of images at his disposal, which he was applying as he wrote the book. Another way in which the scribe interacted with the images was to rubricate them. The scribe used the red rubricator’s pen to make frames around many of the images, or to pick out details within the image by applying a thin red line. Just as black text is framed with red rubrics, monochrome prints are also framed in red boxes.

One idea that had occurred to me while thinking about the print depicting the female trinity, or Anna-te-drieën ( e-fig. 25 ), was that the rubricator (who was also the scribe) had inscribed some of the areas of the otherwise monochrome print with red ink. That, it turned out, was a theme in a group of these prints. Specifically, the rubricator enhanced 635 by tracing the Gothic architecture and outlining the frame, giving the bottom of the frame a ‘bevel’ by triple-lining it. This feature — enhancing the images with red ink — appeared regularly: several mattes reveal page after page of the beghards’ manuscript, most of which have been treated with red (figs 25, 26, 27). Earlier I showed that the silhouetted prints demonstrated that the scribe was responsible for pasting on the prints and writing around them. Now these folios, with prints framed in red, suggest that the scribe was not only the person gluing on the prints but was also the rubricator, and that the rubricator was also the person who ‘framed’ the prints in red ink.

Fig. 25  Matte with manuscript leaves from Add. 24332 glued to it, with engravings representing St Francis and others. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings.

Fig. 25 Matte with manuscript leaves from Add . 24332 glued to it, with engravings representing St Francis and others. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings.

Fig. 26  Matte with manuscript leaves from Add. 24332 glued to it, with small engravings. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings.

Fig. 26 Matte with manuscript leaves from Add . 24332 glued to it, with small engravings. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings.

Fig. 27  Matte with manuscript leaves from Add. 24332 glued to it, with small engravings. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings.

Fig. 27 Matte with manuscript leaves from Add . 24332 glued to it, with small engravings. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings.

At least in some sections of the book, the regular scribe was also rubricating the text. For example, on folio ccc lxviij , with a prayer to St Francis, the scribe’s distinctive script reappears in the rubric (e-fig. 26).

BM 1861,1109.666 — Manuscript leaf with a prayer to St Francis ( e-fig. 26)

Manuscript leaf with a prayer to St Francis and an engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.666.

The same red ink was used to make a frame around the figure. Since the scribe would have to leave a space of the appropriate size and shape for this image, it is likely that he is the one who trimmed and pasted it on, before proceeding with the writing. Since he also rubricated the page, it is likely that he also framed the print in red in the same campaign of work. This page also proffers both thick and thin lines in red, indicating one pen for writing and one for underlining. The scribe has used the thin pen to frame St Quentin, who appears with the nails of his martyrdom driven into his shoulders (e-fig. 27).

BM 1861,1109.676 — Manuscript leaf ( e-fig. 27)

Manuscript leaf with a prayer to St Quentin and an engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.676.

He has used a thicker nib for inscribing words. However, the rubricator has deployed the same logic when altering the image as he has when creating the prayer text: drawing attention to something that is essentially black and white by adding a bright colour to it. Because the same principle appears in both text and image, and because the ink around the image appears to be the same as the ink applied in the rubrics (albeit with a different pen or brush), I contend that the rubricator also decorated the prints with red designs.

Mid-sized rectangular German engravings must have come from several different sources and therefore had different styles, but the beghards integrated them with red lines. Two of these, representing St Peter (e-fig. 28) and St Matthias (e-fig. 29), probably arrived already coloured with pink, green, and yellow washes.

BM 1861,1109.692 — Manuscript leaf ( e-fig. 28)

Manuscript leaf from Add. 24332 with a prayer to St Peter and an engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.692.

BM 1861,1109.691 — Manuscript leaf ( e-fig. 29)

Manuscript leaf from Add. 24332 with an engraving depicting St Matthias. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.691.

That they have been hand-coloured in a similar way reveals their common source. The rubricator stroked the architecture surrounding the St Matthias, trying to do so symmetrically. He had difficulty with this, because the painter had not applied the green symmetrically, painting all the left side but not all the right. As a result, the red additions at the bottom of the architecture do not match. The rubricator did not add red to the St Peter. This suggests that he was not going through the prints systematically and embellishing them but, rather, that he was selectively embellishing prints after they were already pasted down to the text pages. Red lines helped to integrate the images into the rubricated book.

Not all the small prints have been decorated in red. I looked for patterns. One was that the rubricator added red around the image on folios where he was already busy rubricating text. The image of St Quentin is a case in point. Two other rubricated engravings, which both show St Francis receiving the stigmata, also suggested this (666, see e-fig. 26 ), and (e-fig. 30).

BM 1861,1109.667 — Manuscript leaf with a prayer to St Francis ( e-fig. 30)

Manuscript leaf with a prayer to St Francis and an engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.667.

Because the beghards on the Witmakersstraat had Bartholomew and Francis as their patron saints, it is not surprising to find multiples of them in their book, especially Francis, who was apparently well-represented in the printed offerings that pedlars had on hand. These unassuming small images of St Francis appear in red frames, which, although simple, add emphasis to the image. Outlining the images in red might be akin to writing saints’ names in red in the calendar. The frame around 667 serves another purpose: although the print is small and barely fills five text lines, the rubricator has aggrandised it: he has added a gothic roof to the print, as if the scene were taking place in a shrine.

Another function of the red framing is to unify disparate items. Folio ccc lxxxv , which presents three engravings depicting apostles, takes this red framing aesthetic to an extreme by placing the figures in a flimsy stack of niches in a Gothic church (e-fig. 31).

BM 1861,1109.668, 677, 678, and 669 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 31)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with three engravings glued to it. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.668, 677, 678, and 669

Strangely, the subjects of the prints ( Peter, Paul, and Paul-turned-into- James) do not correspond exactly to the prayers next to them (to Paul, Andrew, and James). It is as if the scribe merely conceptualized the prayers as ‘dedicated to apostles’ and then proceeded to paste in an assortment of small relevant prints along the left edge. Rather than have two Pauls next to each other, he transformed the lower one by cutting off his sword and turning the handle of the sword into a shell. Although the apostles have approximately the same scale, they have been printed with different degrees of ink density, and the scribe must also have realised how jarring the prints were next to one another. The snaking red pen decoration is an attempt to unify them.

The rubricator was also at work on an engraving depicting St John having a vision of the beast of the Apocalypse while on the island of Patmos (e-fig. 32).

MB 1861,1109.670  — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 32)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St John on Patmos. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.670.

Here, unusually, it marks the beginning of the Gospel according to John, rather than the Book of Revelation. This is because John the Evangelist was believed to be both the author of the Apocalypse and of the Gospel (‘In the beginning was the word’). John appears below, and the beast with the head of a woman in a roundel above, as if it were in a thought bubble. 34 The delicate print contains thousands of minute strokes in a small (40 x 22 mm) area. However, the beghard apparently found the print wanting and therefore gave it a red frame. He then went back and forth with his red pen between the two tiers, as if to emphasise the seam between the earthly and visionary realms, between St John and the object of his vision.

I was not sure whether the rubricator was also the person applying the yellow wash to the dragon’s wings and John’s hair, but an engraving depicting the Christogram convinced me that it was. It shows the letters ihs standing out in white against a dark field of cross-hatching ( e-fig. 2 ). This highlights the letters in the centre, which the rubricator further emphasizes by painting the ring around the letters yellow, as well as the flames reaching out from the disc, as if ‘yellow’ stood for radiance. If the roundel were a clock, then at the five o’clock position there is a red decoration within the yellow band, at the letters ‘Ihs’. This red ink has run into the yellow, which indicates that the yellow was slightly wet when the red was applied. Therefore, the red and yellow were applied in the same campaign of work, by the rubricator who was also one of the scribes. Thus, this yellow decoration was supplied by the beghards.

Several operations therefore took place in the beghards’ atelier ( cutting, pasting, touching in yellow, rubricating), but they did not hand-colour the images they received, except in these circumscribed ways.

Split Personalities

In my exploration of the prints so far, I had seen that the beghards received prints of multiple sizes, made in various places by different printers, and brought them together into the book, sometimes using the knife, red ink, and a yellow wash to heighten and unify them. They were working with prints in large sizes that could fill an entire octavo leaf (or indeed, become an entire leaf), or prints in smaller sizes that could be glued to the page. For this project, the beghards worked as much with the knife as they did with pen, wash and glue to make and enhance meaning. One constant battle they waged was to make an existing stock of images fit into a desired set of devotions, when the correspondence was not exact, whether in terms of iconography, size, or shape.

Occasionally, the beghard trimmed a larger, presumably rectangular, print into a round form to make a historiated initial out of it. An example is 657 (e-fig. 33), in which the print, depicting the Virgin of the Sun who stands on the moon, has been trimmed on all sides to fit into an O .

BM 1861,1109.657 — Top half of a leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 33)

Top half of a leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving representing the Virgin of the Sun. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.657.

The trimmed print is as tall as three lines. A large white space around the print suggests that this was not the beghard’s original solution but a makeshift one to plug a gap in the book. He found the closest appropriate image, (over)trimmed it, and pasted it on. Likewise, a rectangular winged ox engraving filled an oval letter before a prayer to St Luke (e-fig. 34). The scribe has worked the negative space of the resulting lobes into the letter’s design.

BM 1861,1109.685 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 34)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting a winged ox. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.685.

Thinking about and assembling the small engravings representing standing male saints brought a curious phenomenon into focus. The scribe must have had three copies of a small engraving representing St Lawrence. One has been used to represent St Lawrence himself (e-fig. 35). A copy of the same image of St Lawrence has been used to represent St Vincent (e-fig. 36). From ink, the scribe has fashioned a rake over the saint’s shoulder so that he casually displays his object of martyrdom. And finally, the scribe has taken a third copy of the print, trimmed off Lawrence’s attribute, and drawn three rocks over the saint’s head. St Lawrence has become St Stephen (e-fig. 37). Alternating between the knife and the pen, the beghard was able to transform three identical prints to serve different needs of the book. The engravers’ intended purpose for these little prints of saints is unclear. Did printmakers create them precisely for this use? Or so that people could simply own tiny prints and keep them in the home? Doubtless, they served multiple functions, but uncovering just what these were in the absence of clear contextual evidence is not possible. The reconstructed beghards’ book provides but one example for a class of objects with flexible uses.

BM 1861,1109.672 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 35)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Lawrence. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.672.

BM 1861,1109.682 — Partial leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 36)

Partial leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Lawrence used to represent St Vincent. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.682.

BM 1861,1109.671 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 37)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Lawrence, used to represent St Stephen. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.671.

What I find particularly interesting is how the scribe continually intervened in the identity of the printed subjects. The beghards bought several more rectangular German engravings featuring single standing saints, but they did not always depict the desired saint. They pasted one of these to a folio which has on its recto the end of a prayer to Mary Magdalene and the beginning of one to St James (e-fig. 38).

BM 1861,1109.690 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 38)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Paul, used as St James. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.690.

But they apparently lacked an image of St James and had to make one out of an engraving of St Paul: with a finely trimmed nib, the scribed used the same dark brown ink that he used for the text to draw a pilgrim’s hat on the figure’s head, and added shells to the blank space on either side of his ears. Furthermore, the scribe has enhanced both text and image with a few strokes of red.

Another print was hand-coloured in a similar way, with a bit of yellow wash plus the rubricator’s red lines on the architecture. This print represents St Agatha (e-fig. 39).

BM 1861,1109.693 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 39)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Agatha. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.693.

She holds a pair of pincers, carrying her breast aloft by its nipple, all under a clumsy arch. A letter b that may be a monogram appears top right in the image, but the identity of this engraver remains mysterious. The print has been affixed to a page in the middle of a prayer to Agatha. Because the print was a bit wider than the space, the copyist moved it a centimetre into the margin to leave more room for script. In other words, the scribe had to make concessions to accommodate the images. They are too small to serve as full-page ‘miniatures’ but large enough that they nearly push the text from the page. The rubricator, who added the word ‘an[tiphon]’ in the margin, stroked some of the capital letters in red, and underscored the name of the saint in the same colour; he also overscribed some of the printed lines in the architectural frame of the print. I find it strange that the rubricator did not pick out details of this martyr’s breast, or her halo, or her palm — those elements that convey her martyrdom and sanctity — to ‘underscore’ her particular attributes, but chose neutral pieces of architecture to highlight.

An adjacent category of small images has a much clearer reason for existing: to fulfil an indulgence. For example, it contains the prayer ‘O, Adoro te in cruce pendentem’, the most richly indulgenced text in the pre-Reformation period (e-fig. 40).

BM 1861,1109.658 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 40)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraved roundel depicting Christ as Man of Sorrows used as a historiated initial. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.658.

The beginning of the prayer, however, is missing. My explorations of the British Museum’s collection did not unearth the previous folio, ccccc xviii , which probably had an image of the Mass of St Gregory on it, an image that was efficacious in activating the often enormous indulgences that accompanied recitation of this prayer. I suspected that the beghard had one large image of the Mass of St Gregory, which he used as a full-page ‘miniature’ that has now gone missing, and secondarily a small image depicting Christ as Man of Sorrows, which he applied to a secondary lower level in the hierarchy of decoration.

This roundel pasted onto fol. ccccc xix , 658, is highly derivative. It is a simplified copy of an image of Christ as Man of Sorrows by Israhel (fig. 28), which itself is probably a copy of a previous print, which is probably a copy of the miracle-working micro-mosaic image of Christ as Man of Sorrows made around 1300 in Sinai and kept at Sta Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, where it was elaborated framed and put on display as a major pilgrimage attraction (figs 29 and 30). 35 Christ’s head, strangely, leans towards the side of damnation, and the letters that fill the background are reversed. In other words, this print was probably made by a slapdash engraver, who copied an existing design without bothering to reverse it for the printing process.

Fig. 28  Israhel van Meckenem, Christ as Man of Sorrows, engraving. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea 48Res.

Fig. 28 Israhel van Meckenem, Christ as Man of Sorrows, engraving. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea 48Res.

Fig. 29  Mosaic icon with the Akra Tapeinosis (Utmost Humiliation), or Man of Sorrows, in a series of frames. Mosaic icon, Byzantine, late 13th–early 14th century. Basilica di Sta Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome.

Fig. 29 Mosaic icon with the Akra Tapeinosis (Utmost Humiliation), or Man of Sorrows, in a series of frames. Mosaic icon, Byzantine, late 13th–early 14th century. Basilica di Sta Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome.

Fig. 30  Detail of the Mosaic icon from the previous figure.

Fig. 30 Detail of the Mosaic icon from the previous figure.

Foliation

So far, the prints that had arrived (and the leaves to which they were stuck) fitted neatly into my spreadsheet. I was fortunate that the beghards who had assembled the manuscript had foliated it; they enabled my task of reconstruction. But then came a difficulty: a matte with two pages from the beghards’ manuscript that were pasted down, thereby obscuring the foliation. (Most other prints are attached with hinges and can therefore be lifted.) One of these was an engraving showing the infant Christ seated on a cushion within a sacred heart (e-fig. 41); the other a full-page engraving by the Monogrammist F, which shows the dead Christ being supported by his standing mother, with the Arma Christi displayed as two coats of arms above (e-fig. 42). F has engraved his initial into a miniature shield in the lower frame. One wonders whether he considered that his burin resembled an instrument of torture. If so, he might have felt implicated in creating Christ’s pain.

BM 1861,1109.632 — Jesus as an infant holding the Arma Christi ( e-fig. 41)

Jesus as an infant holding the Arma Christi , Netherlandish engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.632.

BM 1861,1109.637 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 42)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting the dead Christ being supported by his standing mother, with the Arma Christi displayed as two coats of arms above. Netherlandish, engraving, attributed to Monogrammist F. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.637.

How these two pages are mounted affects how they must be viewed, and how they may not be viewed. As curators accessioned them, they put the prints into ‘schools’, which is one of the reasons these two landed on the same matte, in a box with several other early engravings from the Netherlands. Because they are now glued next to one another, the two prints must be viewed together. Both artists constructed Christological imagery and found ways to fill the interstices with Passion iconography. In 632 the infant holds the cross with the Crown of Thorns as if to foreshadow his earthly demise, and the image could be read as a giant wounded heart framing an innocent Jesus, with his punctured arms and feet filling the corners ( e-fig. 41 ).

A long, fluttering banderol has an inscription in Dutch. As it winds around the heart, it announces: ‘O mynsch, drach my wonden in dyn herte van bitteren die ic ontfinc om dinre mynnen …’ (O, loved one, carry my wounds in your heart from the pains that I endured out of love for you…). That the scroll winds around so that some of the text is upside-down implies that the print was meant to be loose, because it would have been unwieldy to turn the whole book to read it when the print formed a page. 36

In the service of connoisseurship, both Lehrs and Hollstein described 632. While the print is clearly Netherlandish, they both saw the need to frame it as derivative of a German precedent: nationalism often informs scholarship. Hollstein thought that the engraving was a copy after the Master with the Banderols (L 81), while Lehrs thought that this engraving and another by the Master of the Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (L 86) were based on a lost original. Although I could not get excited about chasing down a lost original, their thinking still bears on mine: the way in which these prints were originally collected, mounted, and stored has an enormous influence on how viewers see them now. Because of the way they are mounted, it is difficult to avoid seeing them in terms of style.

It also takes some effort to imagine them off their mattes and back into the book in which they were mounted in 1500. What role did they play in the unusual book of hours made by Franciscan men in 1500? Its original foliation should help to figure that out. Unfortunately, both these Netherlandish engravings were glued down to the mount, so that the back was illegible. A tantalising hint of the foliation came through the top of the paper of 632 and of 637, but neither was immediately legible. I needed to read the texts on the glued-down versos of the two Netherlandish prints in order to work out where they belonged in the manuscript, and to read the foliation that was leaking through. I explained my problem to the curators, but the Study Room was about to close, and I had to return to The Hague. Giulia Bartrum, the curator, promised to do what she could about having the prints that were pasted directly to their matte (rather than hinged) all lifted. The next few months were extraordinarily busy, and only when they had passed could I fly back to London and squeeze in a few hours’ work in the Study Room. By that time, the staff of the BM had lifted these leaves from their mount so that I could read the backs, including the foliation. I was grateful.

To my surprise, neither 637 nor 632 had prayer text on the back or, even more remarkably, any foliation. I realised that the ink at the tops of these folios was not leaking through the back, but consisted of offsets of folios they had previously been adjacent to. This meant that the text was mirrored. Digitally flipping the top of 637 made it easily legible (fig. 31). Now the Roman numeral read ccc xxxixj , where the final character, j , had a strange loop. But this did not make sense as a Roman numeral. Studying the front of the Infant Christ (632) more closely (and mirrored), I read the faint stain at the top as the number c xxxiii , followed by the same loopy sign as the mystery stroke that occurred on 637: why was the foliation — plus the funny mark that looked like a loopy j — impressed in mirror-writing on the front?

Fig. 31  Detail of London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.637, flipped to reveal the offset inscription.

Fig. 31 Detail of London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.637, flipped to reveal the offset inscription.

Reconsidering the problem, I realised that the loopy j was a sign for bis , a word used in Dutch to indicate an interpolation. For example, a sequence could read 1, 2, 2 bis , 3…. meaning that an element had been added between 2 and 3. (I am collapsing time here. Now that I know the answer, the loopy j is no longer a mystery and seems obvious; however, it took me months to arrive at this solution.) A beghard, possibly Jan van Emmerick, must have interpolated the leaves into the book after it had already been foliated. That is why these leaves were blank on the back: they had not been ruled for use in the original production of the manuscript, but added later. In both 637 and 632, the ink stains I had read at the tops of the respective folios were offsets from adjacent folios, but those adjacent folios had also been interpolated. It was these adjacent leaves that the scribe had called bis (specifically, c xxxiii bis and ccc xxxix bis ). From this one could deduce that first the book had been written and foliated. Then more prints were added and some of them were foliated with bis , and this ink bit into 632 and 637, which were added in a third round of additions. The ghostly offsets were caused by pages (presumably with prints) that were no longer extant. These leaves were missing in my spreadsheet, so I added them, noting that I had inferred their existence from the offsets on their respective following folios.

Moreover, the reason for the offset from the previous folio was that the beghard had added several prints after the book was finished and foliated, and at least two of them were bound next to one another when he went through the book and foliated the new leaves; one of these he foliated as ccc xxxix bis . When he closed the book, the wet ink was transferred to the front of the Pietà. The print that I had inferred from this evidence — with the handwritten folio number ccc xxxix bis — was not to be found in the manuscript nor in the boxes at the British Museum.

Another ramification of this discovery had to do with time: whereas the leaves with regular foliation had a terminus post quem of around 1501 (the date of the inscription in the calendar), these added leaves could be slightly later. It appeared that the beghards had come upon a small supply of Netherlandish engravings after the book was finished, but could not bear to omit them from the project. The beghards must have inserted 637, the print depicting Mary holding her dead son, at the end of an indulgenced prayer to the Virgin of Compassion, and before the Stabat Mater in Dutch ( e-fig. 42 ). This imagery is multivalent, by which I mean that it could be appropriate contemplative material before any one of a number of texts about Christ and his Passion, or Mary and her Compassion.

The other print that was blank on the back, 632 with the Infant Christ, also spent time squeezed next to a leaf that had bis in its foliation: it was one of two extra folios placed into the manuscript so that they would face the incipit for the Seven Penitential Psalms, which begins on folio c xxxiii . Normally, one would expect to find an image of the Last Judgement to mark this text; perhaps the beghards did not have a print with that image and used two others instead, apparently as an afterthought.

The stratigraphy — that is, the order in which the parts of the book were assembled — reveals something important about the beghards’ processes. It would seem that they began decorating the book with drawings only, and then introduced prints part-way through the making process. The opening of the Seven Penitential Psalms, for example, originally had a black and rubricated text, a drawing showing Christ with an orb in a decorated capital, as a digital reconstruction shows (fig. 32). In a second phase, the book maker inserted a folio, presumably a print that no longer survives. Its existence can be inferred from the faint offset of foliation on a second print that the book maker inserted: a Netherlandish engraving depicting the infant Christ on a pillow. A digital reconstruction of this proposed opening reveals further evidence that the infant Christ once faced the incipit: some of the yellow wash from the orb in the initial seems to have transferred to the print, just under Christ’s disembodied left hand (fig. 33). This proposed reconstruction also explains why most of the prints are concentrated in the second half of the manuscript: the beghards only thought of using prints in this way after they had inscribed folios i- cc lxvii. For the folios before this point, they added some prints ex post facto , as they did with the infant at the Seven Penitential Psalms.

Fig. 32  Digital reconstruction to show the proposed original state of the opening of the Seven Penitential Psalms (Add. 24332, fol. 104v and Add. 41338, fol. 6r).

Fig. 32 Digital reconstruction to show the proposed original state of the opening of the Seven Penitential Psalms (Add. 24332, fol. 104v and Add. 41338, fol. 6r).

Fig. 33  Digital reconstruction to show the proposed third state of the opening of the Seven Penitential Psalms (London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.632 and Add. 41338, fol. 6r).

Fig. 33 Digital reconstruction to show the proposed third state of the opening of the Seven Penitential Psalms (London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.632 and Add. 41338, fol. 6r).

A Group of Woodcuts, Possibly Netherlandish

Whereas Lehrs and Hollstein catalogued the engravings, Schreiber catalogued the woodcuts and metalcuts. Having separate systems of classification for prints by media gives them a false sense of distinctiveness and separation, when it is clear that they were being used alongside one another and therefore shared many of the same functions and possibly the same methods of distribution. Because woodcuts seem to have been more closely associated with the woodworker’s studio, and engravings with the goldsmith’s studio, the resulting products have been assigned a concomitant value, with modern collectors more actively pursuing the items that bear a trace of the goldsmith’s studio. Their relative value may also derive from their fifteenth-century supply: a single woodblock yielded even more prints than did a copper plate, and woodcut prints may have been even less expensive than prints made by copper engraving. However, the similarities in the finished products outweighed the differences in their production, and the beghards, at least, were incorporating them into the same project side by side. Users seem to have been more concerned with what was represented than with how it was represented and with what technique.

The way in which I have organised this material here results in part from the way the nineteenth-century cataloguers described it, and the way the nineteenth-century curators filed the physical objects. In this section I treat the woodcuts that the beghards also pasted in their book of hours. These woodcuts poured out of a different part of the British Museum’s Study Room.

In 1861 the conservator had seen that various woodcut prints formed a series, and therefore grouped them as numbers 646–655 in the Register for 9 November 1861. They depict the following saints (with their Schreiber number in brackets):

St Nicholas (S2714; 1861,1109.646) ( e-fig. 43)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Nicholas. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.646.

St Anthony (S2541; 647) (e-fig. 44)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Anthony. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.647.

St Barbara (S2559; 648) (e-fig. 45)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Barbara. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.648.

St Catherine (S2582; 649) (e-fig. 46)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Catherine. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.649.

St Erasmus (S2622; 650) ( e-fig. 47)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Erasmus. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.650.

St Macarius (S2691; 651) ( e-fig. 48)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Macarius, used as St Paul. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.651.

St Margaret (652) ( e-fig. 49)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a metalcut depicting St Margaret. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.652.

St Martin (S2706; 653) ( e-fig. 50)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Martin. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.653.

St Sebastian (S2728; 654) (e-fig. 51)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Sebastian. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.654.

St Roch (S2724; 655) (e-fig. 52)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with a woodcut depicting St Roch. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.655.

According to Schreiber, these woodcuts were ‘made around 1480–1490 in Ghent(?) and removed from a Flemish prayerbook’. Now we know that the manuscript they came from was Add. 24332, but Schreiber did not know that. He probably reasoned that this series was made in Ghent because it includes an image depicting St Macarius ( e-fig. 48 ), Bishop of Antioch in Pisidia, who was especially venerated in Ghent: St Macarius had made a pilgrimage to Ghent to see St Bavo and, at the end of his visit, Macarius fortuitously died of the plague, leaving the denizens of Ghent with his relics. Macarius was therefore venerated as one of the plague saints and was also considered efficacious against other epidemic diseases. His name is often written in red in calendars made in West Flanders. The beghards of Maastricht, however, did not especially venerate Macarius, and while his name does indeed appear in the calendar under 15 January, it is not in red and lacks a Roman numeral. This means that the beghards made no special concession for Macarius, and did not recite extra prayers on his feast day. It follows, then, that they did not especially need an image of Macarius in their book. Because the scribe did not want the print to go to waste, he changed the saint’s identity: he has pasted this print to folio cc xcvii , which initiates a prayer to St Paul the Hermit, thereby turning St Macarius into St Paul. In making this transformation, the beghard has crossed out the name St Macarius printed in xylographic text at the top of the image, by stroking it with red. Contrary to his intention, this stroking highlights the word rather than hiding it. It is curious that he did not simply trim off the inscription or silhouette the print to get rid of the label. What is clear is that the beghard lacked a print depicting St Paul, but had one depicting St Macarius, so made do with what he had.

Schreiber had included descriptions of these prints in the third volume of his great Manuel de l’amateur de la gravure sur bois et sur métal au XV e siècle , the one dedicated to metal prints and paste prints. At that time he thought they were all metalcuts, but he realised that they differed from most other metalcuts. For this reason he added a note to most of the entries in this group: ‘La gravure … a été réalisé à l’aide du couteau sans emploi de la manière criblée’. 37 Schreiber noted that the St Margaret ( e-fig. 49 ) came from the same manuscript, but was part of a different series. 38 Later, all these prints (except for the St Margaret, which I will discuss next) were given different Schreiber numbers to reflect the fact that they were no longer thought to be metalcuts but, rather, woodcut prints. 39

Campbell Dodgson (1867–1948, who was the Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the BM from 1912–1932) also pointed out that the print depicting St Margaret does not belong with the others. 40 Whereas the rest of the prints are indeed woodcuts, the print of St Margaret is a metalcut. One can easily see, however, why Schreiber, working quickly through thousands of prints, would have assigned the St Margaret to the group because the woodcuts look as if they derive from metalcut models: they have extensive surface patterns, and the woodcutter takes delight in representing brick walls and stippled surfaces. As with most metalcuts, the woodcuts in this series have a high ratio of black printed area to empty area.

Furthermore, a compositional difference separates the St Margaret from the others: whereas the woodcuts in this group are oriented to the right, this metalcut is oriented to the left; consequently, the book’s designer pasted it so that it was justified with the right margin and the saint still faces the prayer text. It is clear from this example that the scribe with the glue pot was evaluating each print as he deployed it and judging how best to place each item. Whereas the other prints in the series are painted carefully with thin washes, this image is painted rather sloppily with a semi-opaque green and a shiny lake red; because metalcuts leave so much black ‘negative space’ on the image, they can be painted quickly by brushing pigment across the surface.

Although the metalcut representing St Margaret must be removed from this group, another woodcut that does belong to it but was unknown to Schreiber is an Annunciation, a fragment of which has been left on folio 283v ( ccc xvii ; fig. 4 ). Like the rest of the woodcuts in this group, the backdrop of the image is highly worked and patterned; the woodcutter has taken special delight in rendering textures such as Gabriel’s wings. Considering these woodcuts as a group reveals aspects of the production, marketing, and distribution of prints in the fifteenth century. All the woodcuts in this series are painted in light washes of warm tones, with an emphasis on red, orange, and a warm brown, and they have a double frame of yellow and black. They all measure 53 x 42 millimetres. It is possible that the nine woodcuts were printed on the same sheet, in three rows of three. The fact that the prints in this group have such similar hand-colouring suggests that the beghards bought them already hand-coloured, perhaps even intact on a sheet, which they subsequently cut apart.

Most of the prints in this series present a saint who is turned to the right in three-quarter profile. This orientation suggests that the artist had a function in mind for these prints, namely their current one of serving as illuminations in prayerbooks. With the saint oriented towards the right, the image can be glued so that it is justified with the left margin, and the saint will then face the incipit of the relevant prayer text.

Whereas all the female saints appear in three-quarter length with their respective attributes, a few of the male saints ( Erasmus, Nicholas, Martin) are depicted at a moment of high dramatic tension. The image of St Nicholas, or Sinterklaas , for example, shows the saint calling three naked youths forth from the dead by raising his hands and gesturing at them in the tub ( e-fig. 43 ). St Martin is depicted just as he is about to cut a piece of his ermine-trimmed garment to give it to a crawling beggar whose legs have been cut off by the frame ( e-fig. 50 ). St Erasmus is not shown performing a miracle but undergoing his gory martyrdom, as short-legged and pig-faced men wind his intestines onto a windlass ( e-fig. 47 ).

This evidence shows that the beghards assembled woodcut prints as well as metalcuts in the same book. They did not make the same distinctions between these categories that the nineteenth-century cataloguers would make. Moreover, given the number and diverse origins of the prints in the manuscript, it is possible that local wholesalers of prints bought them from various printmakers, including those in Germany and West Flanders. Finally — and this is a point that bears repeating because it occurs throughout the beghards’ manuscript — the book’s designers were interested in using every available image, even if some were inappropriate and had to stand in for other saints. They abided by a principle of fungibility.

Appropriating German Engravings

Many of the image-text couplings I have detailed reveal that the copyist hunted for the right print to paste with a desired prayer, and if no print was forthcoming, he adjusted an existing print by trimming off a printed attribute and adding a hand-drawn one instead. But in several cases I wondered whether the image had priority, and therefore the beghard searched for an appropriate prayer to copy alongside it. One example appears on folio cc lxvii (e-fig. 53).

BM 1861,1109.688 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours (e-fig . 53)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting Bernard interacting with an image of Christ that comes alive. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.688.

The engraving depicts Jesus embracing St Bernard; it is pasted to a page whose recto has this rubric, underlined:

Hier na volcht een ynnich gebet dat synte bernardus gemaict heefft [sic] om mede te bewenen die passie ons heren. Ende men leest hoe in eynre tijt st bernaert dit gebet las voer den heilige cruce. Ende het wart gesien hoe hem dat beelde vanden cruys loesde ende neich hem neder ende omhelen [sic] Bernardum. Ende het is vanden stoel van romen mit aflait begaest ende gestediget als men leest mit werdiger devoecien ii m iii c ende lxx iaer ende lxx daghe aflaitz. Die syn die vijf grueten totten vijf wonden ons liefs heren ihesu xpi. Gebet.

[Here follows a devout prayer that St Bernard wrote to experience compassion with the suffering of Our Lord. One reads how once upon a time St Bernard read this prayer before the holy cross, and it was observed that the image loosened itself from the cross and bent down to embrace Bernard. The seat in Rome has granted and confirmed this with an indulgence, so that if someone reads it with true devotion [he will earn] 2370 years’ and 70 days’ indulgence. These are the five greetings to the five wounds of our dear lord Jesus Christ. Prayer.]

So strong and heartfelt are Bernard’s prayers that they animate the image. That is what is happening in the image. It accompanies the ‘Greeting to the Five Wounds of Christ’, a prayer that occasionally, but not always, includes a version of this rubric. The beghard’s possession of the print may have motivated him to include the long narrative rubric to explain the image.

Framed as it is with metallic brown, this print has been treated differently from the others. It appears to be the only occasion in the manuscript in which the beghards experimented with a metallic border; perhaps they were extending the size of the print so that it filled the entire ruled text-block area. The print has been made on much finer paper than the manuscript pages: even if the beghards had received it on a larger sheet, its thin paper would have been inappropriate as an unmounted folio in the manuscript. Moreover, its paper is thirsty and has drunk in the black ink, as well as the light washes in yellow and green. There are no other prints from this series surviving in the book, although the thin paper and the metallic border would be easy to recognise if other prints showed up in other collections. Such features would trace these prints to a common source.

Lehrs often notes the origins of the engravings he catalogues. For this image of St Bernard and Christ (688), Lehrs realised that the print had been preserved in a manuscript, and he even knew that Tross had sold the manuscript in Paris in 1861. 41 But it simply was not his project to reconstruct manuscripts. Rather, his project was to break them down, to sort the prints into categories, to assign them to masters. In fact, a large portion of the prints he sifted through had come from manuscripts. To note them all would be to lose concentration on his purpose.

The BM mounted this print with another depicting St Christopher attributed to the same artist, the Master of the Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand (689) (e-fig. 54).

BM 1861,1109.689 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 54)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Christopher, attributed to the Master of the Martyrdom of the Ten Thousand. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.689.

It has been pasted so that it accompanies the beginning of a prayer to St Christopher. The beghard could not resist adding his own bit of colour to what I suspect came to the monastery already hand-coloured: a few red pen strokes on the cross that the infant Jesus carries make the print the beghard’s own.

Assigning both the St Christopher and the St Bernard to the same engraver, the cataloguer mounted them side-by-side to the same matte. What is telling in this juxtaposition is that they look very different. That is partly due to the fact that they have been printed on different kinds of paper, and the St Christopher is painted in bold colours, while the St Bernard is crusty and brown. Even if the same master had made the plates (and I am not advocating this), they were printed and finished by two separate processes, possibly in separate locations.

Painted Prints from the Circle of Israhel van Meckenem

Two prints, classified as German, were pasted down to their mounts and were therefore difficult to place in the manuscript. One of these represents Christ at someone’s bedside (636) (e-fig. 55), and the other represents the standing Virgin and Child in a niche (633) (fig. 34).

BM 1861,1109.636 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig. 55)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting Christ raising Jairus’s Daughter, attributed to Israhel van Meckenem. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.636.

When 636 entered the collection in 1861, the subject was misunderstood, as the Register reads: ‘One of the illustrations of the Ars Moriendi, representing the Saviour at the bedside of a dying man. Anonymous’. In fact, the print shows a rarely depicted moment from Christ’s adult miracles: the Raising of Jairus’s Daughter. This story, told in Mark V:35–43 and in Luke VIII:49–56, describes Jesus reanimating a twelve-year-old girl. In the image Christ stands next to the girl’s bed; he holds her arm and gestures with his right hand as if to call her from the dead. An archway in the left-hand wall reveals a small sliver of a figure. Christ’s impossibly placed feet appear under the bed. A thick support unevenly bisects the image vertically, thereby framing the back of the left-hand figure. Both in its subject matter and its treatment of space, the image is extraordinarily strange.

Fig. 34  Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting the Virgin and Child, by Israhel van Meckenem. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.633.

Fig. 34 Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting the Virgin and Child, by Israhel van Meckenem. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.633.

The Raising of Jairus’s Daughter in the print is stylistically related to the Virgin and Child (633). They probably stemmed from the same campaign of work. Both prints comprehend several layers of space, including interior walls that are pierced to reveal a glimpse of the outside, and experimental framing techniques. In addition to this daring deployment of space, they were printed and hand-coloured in the same washes. In both prints, olive green, pink, and dark yellow transparent washes dominate the spectrum. The semi-opaque green wash has obscured the signature ‘IM’, which is clear on the uncoloured version of the Virgin and Child that is mounted on the same matte in the BM, even though they have different accession dates (e-fig. 56).

BM 1851,1213.864 — Engraving depicting the Virgin and Child (e-fig. 56)

Engraving depicting the Virgin and Child, by Israhel van Meckenem, signed ‘IM’. Uncoloured version. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1851,1213.864.

This suggests that the original owners of 633 and 636 — the beghards — were not interested in the name Israhel van Meckenem. Their task was not to collect prints attached to named artists. Rather, their task was to amass and utilise numerous small prints, which were only valuable for their content, rather than for their authorship. Although both 633 and 636 share the same pigments, these pigments differ from anything else in the manuscript. This means that the beghards did not do the colouring themselves but received the prints already coloured. It also seems that uncoloured versions of the same prints were available in the market, but that the beghards chose the coloured ones. 42 This would have added to the expense, making cheap images cost two or three times what they would have in their nude state. But they were still inexpensive. Years later I would realise what this obscuring of Israhel’s sign meant for the dismemberment of the book and the collection of its parts (as I will show below).

I looked at 636 for the first time on 24 April 2007. It was pasted down to its archival mount, meaning that the text on the reverse was not readable. Consequently, it was unclear where this seldom represented scene would have fitted into the manuscript. The print fills the entire page and, like other prints of similar size, was not glued on but inserted directly into the quire. Possible clues hid in the foliation: the closely related Virgin and Child leaf (633) was foliated later very faintly with some kind of metal point, possibly lead, with the Roman numeral ‘cc lxii j ’, once again with the curved j standing for bis . On another visit, in January 2008, Giulia told me she had lifted 636, but even after I could see the back, I could not tell where this print originally fit in the manuscript because the back of the leaf is blank, and neither the recto nor the verso is foliated. Jan van Emmerick (or one of his brethren) apparently had as much difficulty placing this image as I did.

Contrary to my expectations, 633 had also been inscribed. Although the print was probably inserted as an afterthought (given the bis foliation), its obverse is nevertheless inscribed with the end of a prayer to Mary, and a rubric that mentions Johannes XXII (1316–1334) for a prayer about indulgences that are ‘given to all believing Christians’ (fig. 35). Depicting the standing Virgin and Child, the image apparently belonged to the adjacent Marian prayer on fol. cc lxii (233), which prefaces a long text about indulgences. Thus, the beghard had matched the Marian image with the Marian prayer.

Fig. 35  Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, reverse of London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.633.

Fig. 35 Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, reverse of London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.633.

For the purposes of conveying this result in the present study, however, I had a problem: although the front of the sheet had been scanned, the person doing the scanning apparently cleaned up the digital image by trimming it down, thereby cropping away the Roman numeral at the top (e-fig. 57).

BM 1861,1109.633 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours (e- fig. 57)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting the Virgin and Child, by Israhel van Meckenem. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.633.

How can I make an argument about where the image sat in the manuscript without this evidence in the photograph? I cannot. Because of the scanner operator’s overzealous cropping, I had to pay for new photography, which at the British Museum costs £60 per shot, plus £35 per image for reproduction fees, for a total cost of £190 to make this point. It was not until 2017, with a grant from the British Academy, that I bought photographs of the front and reverse of 633.

Monogrammist A

On another trip to the British Museum’s fourth-floor galleries, a box of fifteenth-century Netherlandish engravings disgorged two leaves from the manuscript, mounted on a single matte (fig. 36). One depicted St Cecilia and the other St Catherine as St Lucy. Lehrs attributed both to an engraver he called Monogrammist A after the ornate letter ‘A’ he inscribed in his plates. He was active in the Low Countries, probably in the final decade of the fifteenth century. His prints often include elaborate fluttering scrolls, sometimes with Middle Dutch text inscribed on them. One of the prints Lehrs attributed to Monogrammist A depicts St Cecilia, with a voluminous amount of fluttering scroll, which has not been filled in (638) 43 (e-fig. 58).

BM 1861,1109.638 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours (e- fig. 58 )

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Cecilia. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.638.

Printed above to the left and right of her halo are the identifying words ‘Sancta Cecilia’. The banderol and its inscription seem to fill otherwise empty space with objects, to make every space count. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the St Cecilia is that she has been elaborately and intricately painted with a brush and transparent washes of red lake, green, yellow, and pale lilac. The person who added the pigmentation did not, however, inscribe the banderol. That is counter-intuitive, as one might think that the scribe who assembled the manuscript would have a hard time resisting the invitation that the banderol furnished. Its emptiness remains a mystery.

Fig. 36  Two leaves mounted onto a single matte. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.638 and 639.

Fig. 36 Two leaves mounted onto a single matte. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.638 and 639.

The other print pasted to the mount, which depicts St Catherine (639), similarly has a florid monogram A near the bottom, but its use of space is highly dissimilar to the other image (e-fig. 59).

BM 1861,1109.639 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours (e- fig. 59)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Catherine, used as Lucia. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.639.

Although Lehrs attributed this to the Monogrammist A, it has precious little to do with the image of St Cecilia, except that they are both standing female saints rendered in engraving. Lacking a printed label announcing the identity of the saint made the Catherine print more flexible. In fact, the beghards exploited the print’s indeterminacy, for they did not need another image of St Catherine. Although Monogrammist A had intended the figure to represent this saint, with her sword of martyrdom at her hand and the wheel on which she was tortured at her feet, the beghard already had an image of St Catherine — the one made by the Master of the Flower Borders ( e-fig. 14 ) — and he needed instead the much less popular St Lucy. Using some adept strokes of the pen, the beghard has turned the one into the other. He has disguised St Catherine’s wheel of martyrdom, turning it into a basket, and has inscribed the name Sancta Lucia to frame the saint’s head. Perhaps he was taking a clue from the image of St Cecilia and added the inscription in a similar florid script, so that the two words Sancta and Lucia flank the figure’s head. Whoever wrote ‘Sca Lucia’ was not the same as the person who foliated the book. Finally, using the rubricator’s pen, he has inscribed two vertical strokes of red on the saint’s name and two more on her throat, to indicate Lucy’s martyrdom by sword. This is further evidence that writing and assembling this manuscript was a group effort.

Earlier I showed how one of the beghards had transformed the image of St Wolfgang into St Servatius. These transformations underscore some of the problems of using prints : they were relatively brittle; they were produced at some distance from the people who used them; the producers could not anticipate the subjects that would be needed. Because the recipients were several steps away from the producers, they did not necessarily have a feedback mechanism to exercise control over the production. With all these constraints, the end-users developed a creative approach: to use a few strokes of the pen to create what they needed. Later I learned that at least one German printer made female saints with interchangeable attributes that could be swapped (see Chapter 2 ). But they did this in order to reduce the labour of the printer, rather than to supply the recipients with their desired subject. In both cases, makers and users pushed back against the fundamental rigidity of print.

That his full-page prints have been inserted directly into the binding, rather than glued onto blank pages, makes it likely that Monogrammist A was breaking into the market of prints that could be used as single-leaf ‘miniatures’, which were made and distributed for direct insertion into the bindings of manuscripts. The beghards turned several more large prints into pages in the book. This was a clever move, because it meant that the backs of the prints would not be wasted space. By using this space, they could contain the thickness of the book somewhat. Without using the backs, it would have far exceeded its 541+ original folios.

Attributions

It is the fortune of famous, nameable artists to have a large oeuvre attributed to them. Unknown works, according to nineteenth-century thinking, have to be attributed to someone, preferably someone with a name. Lehrs’s project was to sort the known engravings into groups and assign them to particular makers. At the centre of such a practice lies an idea that a single genius was responsible for making each distinctive style. Then, works of the same style that were executed less well could be attributed to the ‘workshop of the master’. In other cases Lehr found mechanisms for explaining varying quality within the work of a single genius. For example, he attributed a somewhat mediocre engraving depicting St George to the hand of Israhel van Meckenem, but suggested that another artist had reworked the plate (642) 44 ( e-fig. 6 ). Hollstein, recognising that figure is devoid of emotional life and that the lance enters the dragon’s neck and emerges from an impossible angle at the bottom of the throat, does not ascribe this unique impression to Israhel: he believed Israhel could not have made such a bad composition. Lehrs also attributed a much more dynamic full-page print depicting St Michael to Israhel, even though the print is not signed with the engraver’s monogram (644) (e-fig. 60).

BM 1861,1109.644 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours (e-fig . 60)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Michael, sometimes attributed to Israhel van Meckenem. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.644.

In fact, Israhel van Meckenem became a magnet for attributions of engravings, no doubt because he is one of the few named engravers. Engravings attributed to him include the full-page St Mark inserted as folio ccc liii ( e-fig. 12 ), an attribution I strongly doubt. I considered whether the beghards themselves were producing these prints , but the possibility is remote since they do not appear to have produced images of their patron saints, the obvious choice of subject matter for any religious house. 45 Hollstein again questions this attribution for good reason. Although at least here the engraver has employed a range of textures — cross-hatching, stippling, and parallel curvilinear lines — to achieve various surface effects, nevertheless the style is much duller than that of signed works by Israhel.

One might conclude that prints made after Israhel were made on the Middle or Lower Rhine, where Israhel himself worked, but that need not have been the case. As Peter Schmidt and others have shown, the rapid transmission of prints before 1500, coupled with the relative simplicity of replicating the bold lines of most woodcuts, meant that they were often quite easy to copy. 46 In fact, the entire output of some engravers consisted of copying other masters’ works. There is no need to assume that a design originally engraved on the Middle Rhine could not have been copied hundreds of miles away. It is possible that some copies were even made in the Low Countries.

The game of attribution has only limited attraction for me. Two other aspects hold more interest: first, that someone, presumably a beghard, has pasted a lion into a red kiosk on the horizon line in the St Mark print ( e-fig. 12 ) not satisfied with the print as it was, he glued a second attribute to the image, filling up the blank space on the horizon line. Secondly, that another print from the same plate survives, and it is mounted to the same matte (fig. 37). This was the same print but treated in a different way. And it did not come from the batch of prints that had entered the BM in 1861; rather, its accession number indicated that it had arrived in 1868. It was time to revisit the register and to poke around there for more clues about this second St Mark (e-fig. 61).

BM 1868,1114.114 — St Mark ( e-fig. 61)

St Mark, engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1868,1114.114.

The stunning results will be taken up in Chapter 3 but first the Register divulged some more clues about Add. 24332. As the investigative work continued, some dangling threads were tied up.

Fig. 37  Two impressions of an engraving depicting St Mark, mounted onto a single matte. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.643 and 1868,1114.114.

Fig. 37 Two impressions of an engraving depicting St Mark, mounted onto a single matte. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.643 and 1868,1114.114.

Lehrs thought that 636 ( Jairus’s Daughter) was made by Israhel, who frequently copied existing prints then signed them with his monogram ( e-fig. 55 ). Israhel, Lehrs contended, copied 636 after a lost original by the Master of the Berlin Passion, and it probably belonged to the same suite as L 24 (on the same mount) and L 29. Israhel may have made this print as early as 1465, although it is also possible that the plate could have been used for decades and inked and printed only later. Avoiding a discussion about hands and copying and lost originals, I note only that Lehrs and other nineteenth-century cataloguers were also collectors. These two activities were connected. Then as now, works of ‘art’ attributed to a famous artist commanded a much higher price than anonymous works. Cataloguers were motivated to attach prints to names for the benefit of their own collections, and for the benefit and ease of classifying them within museums.

Recapitulation

A spreadsheet helped me to organise all the information about each print and each folio in the manuscript (for a more worked-up version see the Appendix ). But the spreadsheet had shortcomings. Adding all the images to the squares made the file too large, and it spread out the information too much. Sjoerd Levelt, an information manager at the Netherlandish Koninklijke Bibliotheek burned File Maker Pro onto my computer and gave me a quick lesson in its use. Girded with a flat text dump of the database that the BM had given me and a copy of Databases for Dummies , in no time I had built a database that became a much better tool for reconstructing the manuscript, with all the images necessary. I used the text dump as the raw material for my own database, but added fields that allowed me to match the prints with the manuscripts they had come from. (This eventually allowed me to start logging all the early prints I encountered, and all fifteenth-century Netherlandish manuscripts with prints removed from them — but I don’t want to get ahead of my story.)

The spreadsheet revealed that most of the prints are concentrated near the end of the book, with only a few at the beginning. I think what happened was this: Jan van Emmerick wrote the beginning of the book before he came upon the idea of incorporating prints into it. That idea dawned on him in the act of writing. Perhaps he was exposed to the idea by encountering a multi-media experiment when the brotherhood received a manuscript with prints , which some early adopter had sent to the beghards’ house for binding. It is possible that the quires at the beginning of the book, which have been lost, contained many prints (for example, an entire Marian cycle), but I doubt it, for there is no trace of them. Perhaps publishing this book will provide the spell to conjure these quires out of hiding.

In no particular order the prints arrived, with each archival box divulging one or two more folios. Progress was slow because each box contained many other distractions, and because I measured and described each print, and made a transcription of the text on each one, noted the Roman numeral foliation, and fitted each into the growing spreadsheet. For example, 634 was mounted on a matte with other prints which had clearly come out of a manuscript, but not the beghards’ book of hours (fig. 38). Whoever had assembled and glued down the prints on this matte was demonstrating his or her tacit understanding that the two leaves in the middle had belonged to the same manuscript. And this person was also trying to create a papier collé assemblage on the matte that would have balance without symmetry: the two uncoloured full-page prints lie on the central axis in a pleasing design. This modern framer was acting like a beghard, pasting on prints in a pleasing manner, forging relationships, adding text. But whereas the beghard was adding prayer text to make the images worthy of worship, the framer was adding accession and bibliographic information in a highly abbreviated form, making them worthy of a museum. Both the framer and the beghard worked in a highly coded language, making marks around the glued-on prints for a particular in-crowd.

Fig. 38  London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.634 (St Anne, Mary, and Jesus) and three other manuscript leaves, including two from the St Godeleva manuscript.

Fig. 38 London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.634 (St Anne, Mary, and Jesus) and three other manuscript leaves, including two from the St Godeleva manuscript.

The boxes in the BM had yielded 63 prints , mounted on 54 folios. This was the largest horde of early prints that could be connected to their original contextual home. However, not all the prints originally pasted into the manuscript were now in the BM. By my calculation (summarised in the Appendix ), 146 leaves, or partial leaves, had been removed from the original manuscript. Partially removed leaves included fol. 271 (fig. 39) and fol. 309 (fig. 40). Not all these 146 leaves originally had prints glued to them. For example, folios xxxiv–lxxiv , which are now missing, probably represent five quires that had been lost or removed before the manuscript came to London, since no prints from this section have survived in the British Museum. (I can speculate that this section consisted of five quires of 8 leaves each, plus one tipped-in full page representing a printed image, totalling 41 leaves, which would account for folios xxxiv–lxxiv . I cannot estimate how many pasted-on prints were included in this section. Because that section contained rosary devotions, it may have contained one or more of the popular prints featuring this devotion.) It is likely, however, that the remainder of the missing leaves — 105 of them — were expressly removed because they had valuable and collectable prints glued to them. The Department of Prints and Drawings now houses 54 of these leaves, containing 63 prints (several of the leaves contain more than one print). This meant that 51 single leaves, as well as a section of the manuscript comprising five quires, were still unaccounted for. Furthermore, I have counted 41 ‘holes’ in the manuscript, or places where discolouration from glue indicates that a print has been removed. If I add it all up, I can estimate that the original manuscript had the following prints :

five quires of 8 leaves, plus a singleton, where the singleton is probably a print, which are all missing

51 single leaves, which are still missing, containing approximately 51 prints (conservative estimate)

63 prints , which are now in the British Museum

41 ‘holes’ are in the manuscript, which cannot be accounted for by the prints in the BM

2 (partial) prints , which are still in the manuscript

A conservative estimate for the number of prints in the original manuscript is therefore 158. Only 65 of those — or 41 per cent of them — are now accounted for. I suspect that the other 93 leaves and/or prints were removed after the manuscript was stolen from its monastery in Maastricht and before it was sold to the British Museum in London. In other words, after the French Revolution but before 1861, it is likely that 93 prints and leaves containing prints were removed from this manuscript and sold. Paris was the most likely place for these sales, as the revolutionary movements in Europe were like a maelstrom that funnelled choice bits of material culture to the French capital. They might even still be there. It took me until summer 2012 to find the time and money to go to Paris to look for them. In the meantime, I thought about the prints in the BM with accession numbers 1861,1109.633-693 and figured out where they originally belonged in the manuscript.

Fig. 39  Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, which has been partially cut off. Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 271v (modern foliation).

Fig. 39 Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, which has been partially cut off. Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 271v (modern foliation).

Fig. 40  Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, which has been partially cut off. Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 309v (modern foliation).

Fig. 40 Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, which has been partially cut off. Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 309v (modern foliation).

Both Lehrs and Schreiber realised that the prints had come from a manuscript, but neither of them had an idea of how many prints were involved. For one thing, Schreiber was busying himself only with woodcuts and metalcuts, and Lehrs only with engravings, so their purviews were already each diminished by half. Secondly, their recognition of the source of the prints rarely went beyond the small group they were dealing with at the moment, and these groupings were almost always related to attributions. So, for example, Lehrs notes of the engraving representing St Cecilia (the one with the fluttering banderol; 638, see fig. 36 ), ‘from the same Flemish prayerbook as no. 15’. 47 When discussing the small, hand-coloured roundels representing female martyrs (including 673, 674, 662), Lehrs puts the six roundels together in his discussion and notes that the prints ‘come from a Lower German breviary acquired from Tross in Paris’. 48 However, he does not connect the ‘ Lower German breviary’ with the ‘ Flemish prayerbook’ that the St Cecilia and St Catherine/ Lucy came from. About the St Peter (L 58), he notes that the print is a copy after the Master of the Flower Borders: ‘Compare with II, no. 59 and II, no. 61, which come from the same Lower Rhenish breviary. It was full of attached prints of the fifteenth and sixteenth century’. 49 Likewise, he mentions that the St Bernard, comes from ‘a Lower German manuscript acquired from Tross in Paris in 1861’, but does not equate this manuscript with the one he mentioned previously. 50 He has moved from the definite article to the indefinite one, as if Tross sold dozens of manuscripts in Paris in 1861 (which he certainly did). About the St Christopher (L 69), he writes: ‘partly painted with green and yellow and pasted to a page from a manuscript acquired in 1861 from Tross in Paris. On the front and back, each 15 lines of Flemish text’. 51 Of the St Agatha ( e-fig. 39 ), Lehrs writes: ‘coloured, from the Lower German prayerbook acquired by Tross in Paris in 1861’. 52 Sometimes he calls it the ‘ Lower German breviary’ (Lehrs III, p . 221), other times a ‘ Lower Rhenish breviary’, still others the ‘ Lower German prayerbook’, and sometimes the ‘manuscript with Flemish text’. He did not realise that he was referring to the same manuscript each time.

Even the BM workers who glued the prints to mattes realised that some came from the same prayerbook. Several of the mattes (figs 25–27) hold only pages from the beghards’ manuscript. Yet no one had the overall vision to put all the pieces together, especially after the pages with drawings were removed, accessioned into the prints department, and then transferred to the manuscripts department.

This confusion was then absorbed into the web-based catalogue housed at the BM, because it depends on the research that preceded it. For this reason, the curator’s note for 1861,1109.656, a woodcut depicting St Peter which had been folio ccc lxxiii , is somewhat misleading: ‘The leaf is taken from a Flemish MS. book of prayers, which Schreiber dates about 1480–1500. Dodgson thinks it probably had been written after 1500. Although the leaf had been acquired together with ten other leaves from a Flemish book of prayers (registered as 1861,1109.646–51 and 653–55), neither Schreiber nor Dodgson link these, and it is therefore not very likely that their provenance is the same’. 53 That was in 2012. Now that I have been working on this project for several years, the Museum staff has updated some of the records to reflect my work in progress so that the record for 692 reads: ‘The engraving was inserted into a breviary, originating from the Lower Rhine region, acquired by Tross in 1861 in Paris’. 54 It is the nature of online databases to reflect only the latest version of understanding and not to provide a history of how that understanding came to be. It is also the nature of such databases to erase individual contributions of cataloguers, to anonymize all knowledge. Some of the Museum’s records for other items from this set recognised that the prints were attached to a manuscript that they date ‘1465’ in some of the individual records. These records were not linked with each other, and no one had made the connection that all of the leaves had come from a single manuscript.

Book Production

Together with these fragments, the manuscript revealed experimentation with new methods of book production — including the use of prints not just from one source, but made using a variety of production techniques over a wide geographic range — and of organising information within the manuscript. Pre-fifteenth-century manuscript production involved a series of steps: the book’s designer laid it out, worked out which images and text columns belonged together, ruled the folios accordingly, then orchestrated the production. This began with the scribe, who wrote in the text, leaving space for the initials and miniatures. The inscribed bifolia were then sent to a gilder, who applied gold leaf as required, then to an illuminator and a decorator, who contributed imagery and painted border decoration. After 1390, this series of steps began to shift, at least for the middle of the market for books of hours: scribes wrote out the standard texts, making sure that major text divisions fell on a fresh recto folio. 55 Simultaneously, illuminators created loose, full-page miniatures that could be slotted into books of hours. Unlike in the earlier period, the illuminators did not need to have the textual parts of the book at hand in order to create these images. Illuminators made generic imagery that could be added to one of any number of books. A manager, or stationer, brought these components together and bound them. In this way, scribes and illuminators could concentrate on creating repeated units efficiently. They did not have to meet, and their wares could be stockpiled for later assembly. Pasting prints into manuscripts yields a further division between makers of images and makers of text. With printing, images were cheap enough that their makers could experiment with hundreds of new subjects, not just the Infancy and Passion of Christ and indulgenced subjects that became standard fare for the illuminators of loose sheets (such as the Masters of the Pink Canopies). 56 Image-makers did not have to anticipate exactly which images were needed for standard texts. Furthermore, they could live hundreds of miles from their end users. The beghards were collecting hundreds of prints , and pasting them and writing on the pages simultaneously. This would also considerably disrupt the hierarchy of decoration.

Add. Ms. 24332 challenges this conception of book making. Rather than starting with the script and leaving spaces in the text for miniatures, the book’s maker must have pasted prints from a stack of mismatched engravings and woodcuts, and incorporated them into the book as he progressed with the writing. These prints were glued to the page first, and then the text written around them or on the backs of them. In other words, image was primary and text secondary as an organising principle of book construction. My spreadsheet suggests that the beginning of the book did not have many prints , and that in fact, the beghards began the tandem process of writing and gluing once they had started making the book. Even after the book was finished, the beghards continued to acquire prints and add them to the book. They struggled to place them in logical positions, where they would enhance the themes of the texts. Part of their modus operandi was to add more images to the beginning of the book, since that part had been neglected, as they had not come up with the idea of pasting in stacks of prints until the copying was already under way. In other words, this manuscript comprises the beghards’ first attempt at combining manuscript with print. I was witnessing the beginnings of their thinking about combining the two technologies, and also witnessing their early response to printed images: once they started, they kept going, and kept stuffing images into the book, right up to the moment they bound it.

A Sheaf of Drawings

On 18 January 2008 I revisited the handwritten register Sheila had shown me on the first day in the BM’s Study Room. It often happens that I need to visit primary and archival documents multiple times, because the first time I am so innocent of their contents that I do not fully understand what they are offering. Only after a period of considerable study and reflection can I perceive their messages. On my second visit, this register unlocked more secrets about the manuscript and its original images. Prints that had been taken from Add. 24332 were registered under numbers 632-693 for the date 9 November 1861. Now the ledger offered a piece of information I had missed the first time: at the end of the list there was also a group of drawings that the BM had purchased from Tross on the same date. These were a continuation of the prints that Tross had sold to the BM on that day. Furthermore, a handwritten note stated: ‘694–706 transferred to Dept. of mss. 21 Dec 1926. CD’. Then in different ink, someone had added: ‘(Add. MS. 41338.)’. CD, as I would learn, was Campbell Dodgson (1867–1948), the great historian of early prints . 57 He was indicating that these items — all classified together as drawings — were transferred to the manuscripts department in 1926 where they became Add. Ms. 41338. Leaving the BM, I dashed to the British Library and called up Add. Ms. 41338.

While waiting for the manuscript to arrive, I read the notice for Ms. 41338 in the Catalogue of Additions. It describes ‘Thirteen leaves from a book of hours, possibly from St Trond in Belgium, in Middle Dutch’. 58 B. Schofield, who catalogued this, was the Keeper of Manuscripts in the late 1950s, three decades after these folios had entered the Department of Manuscripts in 1926. No doubt he suggested St Trond as a place of origin for the thirteen leaves because of the presence — as I soon discovered — of St Trudo in the sheaf.

Schofield listed the contents as follows:

  1. Computus tables, including

    ‘Homo signorum’ diagram showing the influences of the Signs of the Zodiac, f. 1

    Table of the moon’s place in the Signs, arranged on the 19-year cycle, f. 1b

    Wheel of Fortune, combined with the names of the months, f. 2

    Table, beginning at 1500, for finding the dominical letter according to the 19-year cycle, f. 2b

  2. ‘Die cruys ghetijden, Hours of the cross’, first leaf only. A somewhat similar version is found in Add. 15267, fol. 78. f. 3
  3. ‘Hier beghint die metten van den heilighen gheest’, first leaf only, f. 4
  4. Psalm vi. 2–11, beginning ‘Heer in dijnre verbolghenheit en straeffe mij niet’, the first of the seven Pen Ps, first leaf only, f. 6
  5. ‘Hier beghint die vigilie voer alle ghelovighe dooden’, Vigils for the dead, first leaf only, f. 7.
  6. Six leaves, not consecutive, containing miscellaneous prayers and devotions, which includes prayers to SS. Gertrude, Abbess of Nivelles (f. 8b); Trudo (Trond), Eucherius, B of Orleans, and Libertus, all patrons of St Tond (f. 12); memorials of SS. Gregory (f. 8), Francis of Assisi (f. 9), Clare (f.9b) Advent (f.13b).

When the thin manuscript arrived an hour later, I saw that Add. 41338 did indeed comprise thirteen leaves cut from the beghards’ manuscript, mostly incipits of texts. The size of the pages, the script, and the foliation matched that of Add. 24332. It contained drawings in several styles, some on parchment, most on paper. Each sheet was glued to a stub and arranged in order of its original folio numbers (in Roman numerals), except for the first four, which were on parchment and had no original foliation. A note at the back of the manuscript indicated that it had been foliated in March 1934 (in Arabic numerals), eight years after the leaves entered the library and presumably were bound. It was clear that the nineteenth-century cataloguer at the British Museum had grouped the thirteen leaves together in the 1861 register because these leaves had drawings rather than prints . This was a continuation of the cataloguer’s larger project, to organise the new acquisitions by medium, grouping the metalcuts, the woodcuts, the engravings, and finally the drawings.

Realising in 1926 that the thirteen leaves belonged together, Campbell Dodgson had decided that they fitted better in the manuscripts department than in the prints department, so he gathered them up, had them bound under a different signature, and sent them to the other department. Neither Dodgson in 1926 nor B. Schofield in the manuscripts department had noticed that the thirteen leaves had been cut from a manuscript in the British Museum’s own collection. If they had, they might have integrated the leaves into Add. 24332 rather than binding them separately with no reference or concordance connecting the two.

This was a piece of detective work that would pay dividends. Within this sheaf, now bound as Add. 41338, the images contained much valuable information. These sheets firmly emphasise St Francis and St Clare, the premier male and female Franciscans, which also confirmed the manuscript’s Franciscan origins. Two of the parchment folios present dated computational tables, and one of the drawings bears the name of a draughtsman. Connecting these pieces 147 years after they had been separated allowed me to have more information about the whole than each component allowed in isolation: clues in Add. 24332 allowed me to localise the thirteen fragments with drawings better than Schofield had (who had thought they were from St Trudo); and clues in Add. 41338 allowed me to date Add. 24332, as well as the items that had been removed from it, with greater accuracy. Only by viewing them together did the parts divulge enough information to piece together who made the manuscript, where, and when, and the unity provided a fuller picture of how early prints functioned than had been previously possible.

Tables and diagrams fill the first two folios in Add. 41338. These are on parchment rather than on paper. (It was a common practice in Eastern Netherlandish manuscripts to combine folios on paper with those on parchment. Often the parchment folios form the outer leaves of a quire, or occupy the beginning of the manuscript, because parchment can withstand more wear.) The first diagram shows ‘ Zodiac man’, that is, a human figure with the signs of the zodiac inscribed on his body, indicating which signs have jurisdiction over which body part (fig. 41). 59 On the verso of the same leaf is a diagram indicating how the figure is to be used to determine good ( goed ) and evil ( quaet ) days for performing phlebotomy (bloodletting) to benefit the various body parts with their astrological jurisdictions (fig. 42). These diagrams suggest that the beghards were engaging in phlebotomy, which is not surprising, as it was the most widespread medical practice in the Middle Ages.

Fig. 41  Zodiac man, from the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 1r.

Fig. 41 Zodiac man, from the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 1r.

Fig. 42  Leaf formerly belonging to the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 1v.

Fig. 42 Leaf formerly belonging to the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 1v.

Diagrams filled the recto and verso of the next sheet (fig. 43 and 44). Three of these resemble volvelles, series of concentric circles with pointers that sweep around like a clock arm. However, these low-tech volvelles, which are simply inscribed on the page, have no moving parts, and their pointers consist merely of rubricated lines. The verso presents a diagram for finding the dominical letter according to the nineteen-year cycle beginning with 1500, with a separate dial for leap years. The pointer — constructed of red lines not dissimilar from those framing prints elsewhere in the manuscript — indicates that the year 1500 was in the nineteenth year, and that it was a leap year. This type of diagram is useful for contextualising the manuscript, as it often provides the date in which the manuscript was made, because the scribe and user would have no need to calculate dates in the past. The pointer indicates the starting date, 1500, which is consistent with the date I had estimated for Add. 24332, based on the date 1501 inscribed in the calendar. The new, more precise year of production would become 1500.

Fig. 43  Unfoliated front matter, formerly belonging to the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 2r.

Fig. 43 Unfoliated front matter, formerly belonging to the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 2r.

Fig. 44  Leaf from the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 2v.

Fig. 44 Leaf from the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 2v.

A detail in the innermost circle reveals one way in which the scribe was straddling two worlds. The innermost circle lists the years, 1–19, in the metonic cycle. He has written the numbers i-xvii in Roman numerals, but has then switched to Arabic for the final two, 18 and 19, having realised that these were neater and more space efficient. Combining older systems with newer ones characterises the beghards of 1500.

The two diagrams that occupy the recto are more unusual. One of these lists various categories of saints, beginning with the four church fathers ( Gregory, Jerome, Augustine, and Ambrose), followed by the four evangelists, the four marshals, and finally the saints whom one petitions in times of illness ( John the Baptist, Cornelius, Hubert, Ghielis). As with the diagram on the verso, this one has the nineteen years of the Metonic cycle at its inner circle, again with a pointer labelled ‘1500’ (m o v c ). This diagram, then, singles out individual saints in these categories for each year, beginning in 1500.

At the bottom of the recto is another stationary volvelle that deals with cyclical time. From the centre of the diagram emanate twelve spokes with the months inscribed on them. In the interstices are fates, such as life, death, rich, poor, honour, scandal. A red pointer at the centre can (virtually) sweep this circle, in an annual wheel of fortune. Stains on this folio match those on Add. 24332, fol. 17, which contains a table for calculating the date of Easter.

The front matter in the manuscript was not foliated in the fifteenth century. These diagrams probably were bound before fol. 19, but an offset on 19r (fig. 45) indicates that there had formerly been yet another circular diagram, but that diagram is not among the extant leaves. This missing diagram had a red round frame and yellow paint, purple penwork, and black printed lines that transferred to the facing page.

Fig. 45  Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, showing the offset of a now-missing image. Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 19r (modern foliation).

Fig. 45 Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, showing the offset of a now-missing image. Maastricht, c. 1500. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 19r (modern foliation).

Locating the original manuscript home for the prints that are now in the British Museum forces one to reconsider the dating of those prints; the manuscript, dated 1500, provides a terminus ante quem for all the prints (with the possible exception of the four or five that were added after the original foliation was carried out and are blank on the back). Because the BM’s electronic catalogue is always in flux, I do not know what version you will find there.

So, dear Reader, please erase the statement that is not true:

Prints that had, until 2008, been dated to the sixteenth century and need to be re-dated are –

Or, prints that the British Museum has re-dated in the light of this evidence are –

635 — Virgin, Child, and St Anne, by the Master ‘OV’ ( e-fig. 25 ).

645 — IHS monogram, made by an anonymous Netherlandish master ( e-fig. 2 ).

657 — a fragment of an engraving depicting the Virgin and Child ( e-fig. 33 ).

658 — Christ as Man of Sorrows, made by an anonymous Netherlandish master ( e-fig. 40 ).

661 — a closely trimmed engraving representing St Bartholomew, standing ( e-fig. 62 )

665 — a male figure, silhouetted from a larger sheet, here representing St Elzéar of Sabran, a Franciscan tertiary (d. 1323) ( e-fig. 19 )

666 — St Francis, anonymous Netherlandish engraving ( e-fig. 26 )

667 — St Francis receiving the stigmata, anonymous Netherlandish engraving ( e-fig. 27 )

668 — St James the Greater, engraving ( e-fig. 31 )

669 — St John the Evangelist, engraving ( e-fig. 31 )

670 — Two-tiered engraving, with St John on Patmos below, and the Beast of the Apocalypse above. Netherlandish engraving ( e-fig. 32 ).

672 — St Lawrence; 682 the same image of St Lawrence, used as St Vincent ( e-fig. 36 ); 671 the same image of St Lawrence, used as St Stephen ( e-fig. 37 ). All impressed from the same plate, but the impressions were trimmed differently.

676 — St Quentin, Netherlandish engraving ( e-fig. 27 )

677 — St Paul, engraving ( e-fig. 31 )

678 — St Andrew (?), engraving ( e-fig. 31 )

683 — Angel, Netherlandish engraving (e-fig. 63)

685 — a small rectangular engraving representing a winged ox for St Luke ( e-fig. 34 )

686 and 687 — Church and a kneeling monk, 2 trimmed Netherlandish engravings ( e-fig. 20 )

BM 1861,1109.661 — Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours ( e-fig . 62)

Leaf from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving representing St Bartholomew. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.661.

BM 1861,1109.683 — Manuscript leaf with a prayer to one’s ( e-fig. 63)

Manuscript leaf with a prayer to one’s personal angel and an engraving representing an angel. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1861,1109.683.

Several of the other folios gathered into Add. 41338 are the incipit folios for major texts. One is the incipit of the Hours of the Cross (formerly folio lxxv , fol. 3r, fig. 46). A draughtsman, possibly the scribe, has added a quick drawing to the initial, consisting of a crucifixion sticking out of the H (for Heer , Lord), so that the crucified figure seems to stand on the letter. A drawing of similar ilk appears at the incipit of the Hours of the Holy Spirit (formerly folio xci , fol. 4r, fig. 47). It is possible that the small drawing in the initial, depicting Christ as Salvator Mundi, may have been copied from a print. That may also be the case with a drawing — again depicting Christ with an orb — that marks the incipit of the Seven Penitential Psalms (fig. 48). And an initial with colour wash depicting a skeleton prefaces the Vigil of the Dead (formerly 1861,1109.703, and formerly folio c lxxxiiij , fig. 49). With an economy of means, the scribe has turned the letter into a sarcophagus that holds a decomposing body crawling with worms in its mouth, but painted in skin tones. One has the sense that the scribe made these drawings, that they are extensions of the simple embellishment of the initials. Perhaps the scribe would have filled these initials with prints if they had been available.

Fig. 46  Incipit of the Hours of the Cross, formerly belonging to the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 3r.

Fig. 46 Incipit of the Hours of the Cross, formerly belonging to the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 3r.

Fig. 47  Incipit of the Hours of the Holy Spirit, formerly fol. xci in the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 4r.

Fig. 47 Incipit of the Hours of the Holy Spirit, formerly fol. xci in the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 4r.

Fig. 48  Incipit of the Seven Penitential Psalms, formerly fol. cxxxiiij in the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 6r.

Fig. 48 Incipit of the Seven Penitential Psalms, formerly fol. cxxxiiij in the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 6r.

Fig. 49  Skeleton incipit prefacing the Vigil of the Dead, formerly fol. c lxxxiiij in the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 7r.

Fig. 49 Skeleton incipit prefacing the Vigil of the Dead, formerly fol. c lxxxiiij in the beghards’ manuscript. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 7r.

Someone, perhaps the scribe, has drawn a robed man kneeling in awe (one of several such drawings, in fact, among this group of folios) to fill an initial for a prayer that begins, ‘O, Lord, I stand here before you as a poor sinner’ (fig. 50). The draughtsman has responded to the prayer by depicting a male figure kneeling before God or, more accurately, before the prayer text that is a conduit to God. According to the P&D register for 1861,1109.700, this print depicts an ‘O with a kneeling monk in ecstasy’.

Fig. 50  London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 11v.

Fig. 50 London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 11v.

A text that makes an impassioned plea for intervention is the most ebullient embellishment from this hand (fol. 13r, formerly folio d c viii ; fig. 51). 60 A kneeling man clutches the bottom of Cross, while Christ bleeds above him. The height of the cross extends beyond the height of the text block, while the shaft of the cross and the text physically connect the man to his object of devotion. These drawings, made in brown ink and with the rubricator’s red with the yellow watercolour embellishment that marks some of the initials, most probably stem from the hand of the scribe, who had these materials at hand; he was apparently depicting himself in prayer in response to the text on the page. Close observation reveals that the shaft of the cross warbles and sputters to its height: the scribe did not make it with a ruler but freehand. It was a spontaneous interaction with the text, inscribed before a ruler could be found.

Fig. 51  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a marginal pen drawing depicting a kneeling cleric at the foot of the Cross. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 13r.

Fig. 51 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a marginal pen drawing depicting a kneeling cleric at the foot of the Cross. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 13r.

The text on folio d c viii demonstrates another way in which the beghards used labour-saving techniques in book production: the bottom of the page contains a series of prayers listed only by their incipits along with the folio numbers where the reader could find the full edition. To complete the sequence of prayers mandated, the reader was to turn to folio c xiiij and read from it, then read from several other folios, before finishing with the Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany on folios c xxxiiii and c xlvij , respectively. Filling the outer margin, the image of the Franciscan embracing the cross would have helped the reader find this page again after turning to other parts of the book.

An unusual drawing depicting St Gertrude also appears to be constructed from the scribe’s brown ink and yellow watercolour (fig. 52). 61 Gertrude founded the abbey at Nijvel/Nivelles (now in Belgium), where her relics are also kept; she was venerated all over the Southern Netherlands and Limburg. According to popular lore, she was efficacious against vermin, which is why she is represented with mice crawling over her. This drawing has been made directly onto the ruled paper, for the drawn lines go over the ruling. It may have been that the same scribe who made the drawing also inscribed the text, since the same brown ink has been used for both. He then wrote around the drawing, as if it were one of the silhouetted prints . However, the confidence of the lines in this drawing differs significantly from the less crafted strokes in the other drawings made directly on the page, most notably, the images of the praying and kneeling men in robes. Such confident work may have resulted from copying the figure from a print, possibly even by holding it up to the light and tracing it. Is it possible that the scribe had only one copy of the print but wanted to duplicate the image manually so that it could appear in more than one book? Did the idea of printing itself open a universe of possible operations involving duplication? Or had the graphic form of the print itself, with its dark lines imprinted onto semi-translucent paper, inspired a form of image transfer and enabled amateurs to carry out manual reproduction?

Fig. 52  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a pen drawing depicting St Gertrude with mice. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 8v = fol. ccc xiii.

Fig. 52 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a pen drawing depicting St Gertrude with mice. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 8v = fol. ccc xiii.

This suggestion that some drawings were copied from prints is more intriguing in light of the image of the Virgin of the Sun (fol. 5r, fig. 53). This image departs sharply from the other drawings in the manuscript, and it was copied from a print that survives, an engraving by Master IAM of Zwolle; this engraver was active in the second half of the fifteenth century (e-fig. 64).

BM 1845,0809.95 — Virgin in sole (e-fig. 64)

Master IAM of Zwolle, Virgin in sole , engraving. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1845,0809.95

One of the differences between the printed prototype and the subsequent drawing is scale: the drawing is considerably smaller. Viewing the two images side-by-side reveals that the draughtsman who copied the image faithfully reproduced some parts but enhanced others. Instead of the simple rays of light that the engraver imposed with his burin perpendicular to the tangent of the Virgin’s curving body, the draughtsman has added rays of light that look at if they were cut out of sheet metal and connected by a garland of roses. The draughtsman also added two angels who crown the Virgin . He has also made the dragon larger and fiercer, with even greater claws. Most significantly, he has added an image of a praying cleric, who may be meant to represent himself. He has inscribed the words ‘O mater dei memento mei’ rising from this monkish man, which further suggests that the writer/draughtsman associated himself with the figure. He has also made a frame of text around the image: above it reads: ‘Pulchra es amica mea et macula non est in te’ (Song of Solomon, IV:7); below: ‘Ipsa conteret caput tuum’ (Genesis III:15); left: ‘Necdum errant abissi et ego iam concept eram: proverbiorum ultimo’ (Proverbs VIII:24); right: ‘ab originali peccato virginem Mariam…’. That he has added text to the image, and that he chose make a proxy of the print by hand, suggest that he was trained as a scribe.

Fig. 53  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a pen drawing depicting the Virgin of the Sun, with a kneeling portrait of a male cleric and a frame filled with inscribed prayers. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 5r.

Fig. 53 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a pen drawing depicting the Virgin of the Sun, with a kneeling portrait of a male cleric and a frame filled with inscribed prayers. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 5r.

Master IAM of Zwolle’s engraving is significantly larger than the drawing, which causes a problem for my theory about transferring the design. Whereas the engraving measures 233 x 144 millimetres (the size of a trimmed copy in the British Museum), the manuscript folio only measures 143 x 101.6. Therefore, the draughtsman could not have traced the backlit engraving onto the paper directly. However, the Virgin’s outline and her contours correspond directly when the two figures are superimposed. It is possible that the draughtsman scaled down the image himself, since he was drawing it freehand. A second possibility is that Master IAM of Zwolle made the engraving in two sizes, and the smaller size (which our draughtsman would have used) no longer survives. A third possibility is that another printmaker produced the image in a smaller size, but no copies survive. A fourth possibility is that our draughtsman found some other way of mechanically reproducing the image and at the same time shrinking it. Perhaps he used an apparatus such as the pantograph. Although this device is not recorded before the seventeenth century, perhaps a proto-model existed around 1500, at a time when there were new experiments in the mechanical reproduction of images. Whether relying on the pantograph or not, this image therefore stands at the boundary between mechanical and purely manual reproduction, a hybrid means of production within a hybrid manuscript.

Studying the drawing reveals its piecemeal production. Its artist has taken the basic form of the Virgin and Child from the engraving. He has invented some details, such as the scalloped edges of the Virgin’s garment, which were not in the print. He has added the thick flames and rose garland, and the angels who crown Mary. Their faces are not as sensitive or as expressive as that of Mary herself but are similar in style to the face of the kneeling man, who has also been added freehand in the available space. Although the position of this figure is similar to that inscribed at the bottom of a leaf also bound in Add. 41338 with a prayer to St Clare (fol. 9v; fig. 77), this kneeling figure has been created with more interior modelling and less reliance on heavy outline. One might conclude that the drawing of the Virgin of the Sun was made by a different person from the beghard who depicted himself at the bottoms of several pages. However, the Virgin of the Sun artist might still have been a brother who was trained as a scribe.

Perhaps the Virgin of the Sun image was made outside the beghard’s monastery and was never meant to form a page in a book of hours. Constituting a flexible autonomous image, the sheet is not dependent on a manuscript to give it meaning. 62 In fact, the inscriptions in the frame of the image give it a personal biblical context that is separate from that of a book of hours. This image may have been designed to hang on a wall or to sit in a shrine. There is no indication that it was designed for this or any other manuscript. The motif is similar to that found on certain parchment paintings, such as one that has been preserved in a prayerbook probably made nearby in Tongeren (fig. 54). Multiple layers of iconography would have made it appropriate for different kinds of devotion: simultaneously, it presents the Virgin of the Sun, the rosary, the coronation, and devotion to the words ‘Ihesus’ and ‘Maria’. Works that were made as gifts, I hypothesised in Postcards on Parchment , often have multivalent imagery, so that they would be useful for the recipient for a variety of devotions and purposes, not a single fixed one. I proposed that the image may have constituted a gift, from one brother outside the beghards’ monastery to someone within it. To preserve the leaf, Jan van Emmerick or one of his colleagues collected and bound it into the manuscript.

Fig. 54  Virgin of the Sun, parchment painting, inserted to face a prayer to the Body Parts of the Virgin. The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 75 G 2, fol. 196v-197r.

Fig. 54 Virgin of the Sun, parchment painting, inserted to face a prayer to the Body Parts of the Virgin . The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. 75 G 2, fol. 196v-197r.

I tried to figure out where this drawing of the Virgin would have fitted in the manuscript. At first I thought that the leaf had the number xcviij at the top. However, folio xcviij was already accounted for near the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin . Eventually I realised that the final character in the Roman number is the sign meaning bis , which is the same sign I had encountered in the other hard-to-place print, 637 (see fig. 31 ). Now it made sense: the drawing with the Virgin of the Sun was folio xcvii bis , which followed the incipit of the Hours of the Virgin . Only after the scribe had foliated the entire manuscript did he insert this leaf near the beginning of the premier Marian text. This leaf, in other words, was added as an afterthought, inserted between folios xcvii and xcviii . That would also explain why this drawing is blank on the back, unlike the other full-page images in the manuscript: the book’s maker had added these folios too late, after the manuscript had already been copied and foliated. This would also support my earlier hypothesis: Jan van Emmerick only began adding images to this book when he was part-way through copying. After he had finished, he added this image to the Hours of the Virgin , which he had not illustrated at first.

Two additional leaves may have been received as gifts before landing in the manuscript. These depict St Lambert (fig. 55) and St Trudo (fig. 56; formerly folio cccc lxvi , BM 697). 63 It seems that the same person made them, as they appear in a closely similar style and palette, both figures fully frontal and under a baldachin, as if they were filling a private chapel and receiving visitors. They are represented, in other words, as cult figures. At the bottom of the St Lambert image is an inscription: ‘Sanctus Lambertus’, written in a strange spiky script. Is this supposed to imitate engraved script? Or is it just the most ornate display script that the draughtsman could muster? Likewise, the image of St Trudo has an inscription: ‘Sanctus Trudo Confessor: biddet voer den maelre broder Henrich van Venray’ (‘Pray for the painter, brother Henrich van Venray’). That Henrich van Venray calls himself ‘brother’ suggests that he is a Franciscan; that he calls himself maelre suggests that he is a painter, or was a painter, or considered himself a painter. What is significant here is that the figure of St Trudo holds a church. Trudo (Truiden in Dutch, Trond in French) is both a saint’s name and a place name; the place was the site of the earliest Franciscan monastery in the Netherlands, established in 1226–1231. St Truiden was the headquarters, as it were, for Netherlandish Franciscans. One scenario that tallies with this evidence is: a young man named Henrich who came from the town of Venray joined the Franciscans, moved to St Truiden, and became the monastery’s painter. He painted, among other images, two on paper, including one depicting his monastery’s founder, St Trudo, to which he signed his name. He gathered up two of these paintings and sent them to his co-religionist brothers in nearby Maastricht, who honoured the gift by incorporating the images into the book of hours they were writing. If Henrich van Venray offered the images as a gift, then he demanded a counter-gift in the form of prayer: that the recipient of the image should pray for him and his patron saint, who literally holds the church to which the painter belongs.

Fig. 55  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a coloured drawing depicting St Lambert. The frame measures 123 x 68 mm. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 10r, formerly folio cccc xxiii, BM 696.

Fig. 55 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a coloured drawing depicting St Lambert. The frame measures 123 x 68 mm. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 10r, formerly folio cccc xxiii, BM 696.

Fig. 56  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a coloured drawing depicting St Trudo. The frame measures 114 x 62 mm. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 12v.

Fig. 56 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a coloured drawing depicting St Trudo. The frame measures 114 x 62 mm. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 12v.

The other sides of both leaves have also been ruled and inscribed (fig. 57 and 58), just as the large prints are ruled and inscribed. This demonstrates that the scribe/planner had the two coloured drawings and most of the other images available from the beginning and set out to make a book with them. A prayer to St Matthew is inscribed on the verso of the St Lambert image. The scribe has pasted a small print depicting an angel, the evangelist’s symbol. With a few flicks of the rubricator’s red pen, he has made a small house for the printed figure. Using just the tools of the scribe, plus the print, the knife, and the gluepot, the beghard has become copyist, illuminator, and decorator.

Fig. 57  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Matthew. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 10v.

Fig. 57 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with an engraving depicting St Matthew. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 10v.

Fig. 58  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 12r.

Fig. 58 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 12r.

Revolutionary Upheavals and the Dispersal of the Prints

Just as a wall with a small amount of graffiti attracts more graffiti, a manuscript with one thing pasted to it often attracts many more things, and a book with items cut out of it also attracts further mutilations. For Add. 24332, the first wave of those mutilations probably occurred in France and the lands it occupied, as a result of the Revolution. A law of 1 September 1796 (or 15 fructidor an IV according to the French Revolutionary calendar) forced all members of religious houses to quit their monasteries to abide by the ‘stables et conformes à la justice et à l’humanité’. Under this rule, all religious orders, congregations, abbeys, priories, houses of canons and canonesses regular had to leave their institutions, with one small exception: women in religious institutions dedicated to teaching and caring for the sick, that is, teachers and nurses, were allowed to stay on. Men who had these functions, however, had to leave. Effectively this meant that, in Maastricht at least, the Sepulcrienen (the sisters of the Holy Sepulchre, who ran girls’ schools) and the Penitenten (members of the penitent order, who worked in hospitals) stayed on, and all other religious were forced to find a new way of life, independent from the monastery. Just over a year later, on 26 November 1797 ( 5 frimaire an VI ), a new law was issued, forcing even teachers and nurses to leave their compounds. 64 These laws caused tremendous upheaval in Maastricht, as all the religious houses were forced to close. Their property was confiscated and land sold. After the beghards had left their home in September 1796, their building on the Witmakersstraat was auctioned in 1798 for 21,150 francs. 65 It marked the end of an era.

At this point, I had pieced together Add. 24332, Add. 41338, and the objects that had entered the BM Prints Department on 9 November 1861 as having all come from the same manuscript. I had localised the manuscript to the beghards of Maastricht and dated it to 1500, and noted a few prints that were inserted into the book shortly thereafter that were foliated differently. I had built a database to work out which prints were originally pasted where. But this also told me that there were still more prints left unaccounted for. Looking for the missing prints would take me to France, where the manuscript may have been partially dismembered between 1796 and 1861.

Napoleon treated works of art from conquered neighbouring countries as trophies. First and foremost he sought paintings. He even made their transfer to the Louvre a stipulation in his armistice treaties, especially those with Italy. According to the 1797 Treaty of Tolentino with Pope Pius VI, ‘The Pope will deliver to the French Republic one hundred pictures, busts, vases, or statues at the choice of the commissioners who will be sent to Rome, among which objects will specifically be included the bronze bust of Junius Brutus and that in marble of Marcus Brutus, both located in the Capitol, and five hundred manuscripts chosen by the commissioners’. 66 In July 1798 ( 9-10 thermidor VI ), the Fête de la Liberté took place on the Champ-de-Mars in Paris. The French put the trophies of their conquests on display, in museums, in exhibitions, in processions. 67 In 1803 the Louvre was renamed the Musée Napoléon, with the history of Western art on display. As Cecil Gould, the former Keeper at the National Gallery of London, put it, ‘The Musée Napoléon was born of three parents, republicanism, anti-clericalism and successful aggressive war’. 68

As the French armies went through conquered territories, they closed monasteries and confiscated their possessions. Most of these they sold at auctions rather than sending them to Paris for accession into the Musée Napoléon. Thus, even the objects that the Napoleonic forces did not send to Paris still left their original surroundings, and swirled around in the art market for decades thereafter. Certain dealers bought and sold them, made collections and dispersed them, and organised the classification categories. Activities around this collecting included cataloguing, comparing, and building knowledge, making a narrative out of the detritus that was shaken loose by the Revolution.

When Napoleon’s armies closed the monasteries of the occupied Netherlands in 1797, they confiscated the goods inside. From the Dutch-speaking lands, Napoleon confiscated objects from Averbode Abbey, and then blew some of the buildings up in 1810. Among the trophies was the great carved polyptych now in the Cluny museum in Paris. Carved by Jan de Molder in 1513, it depicts Christ’s sacramental blood and related themes. It escaped destruction partly because it was not made out of metal and therefore could not be melted down.

Not all of the confiscated goods entered the French national collections; many items were released into the market. Cataloguing became a central activity for dealers, so that they could study and classify their objects, and add value to them by increasing knowledge about them. Aficionados such as Schreiber, Paul Heitz (1857–1943) and Theodor Oskar Weigel (1812–1881), who were both collectors and dealers, were immersed in the flow of goods that poured from the monasteries Napoleon had closed. Weigel collected choice bits, and then drew up sales catalogues that represented the sum of knowledge on early printing. 69 This system both created amateurs (in the French sense of the word) and funded them.

Cataloguing the loot also took place at a national level: it constituted another aspect of legitimising it for the country, but this took longer than capturing it. Only under Napoleon III (1808–1873), the emperor of the Second French Empire (1852–1870) was a series of manuscript catalogues of the Bibliothèque Imperiale drawn up, ‘by order of the Emperor’ (fig. 59). They began, following national lines, with the manuscripts written in French, before moving on to manuscripts written in other languages. Dutch- and German-language manuscripts fell low on the list of priorities, especially after France lost the Franco-Prussian War in 1871. Manuscripts at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) are still catalogued according to principles laid out in this early era, with the language of the script determining the manuscript’s shelf number. Thus, all the manuscripts written in French form a group, and an elevated one at that.

Fig. 59  Title page from 1868 catalogue of the Bibliothèque Imperiale.

Fig. 59 Title page from 1868 catalogue of the Bibliothèque Imperiale.

Of the manuscripts that were confiscated from the monasteries of Belgium and the Netherlands, some were destroyed. Some were taken to Paris and either auctioned or accessioned. A large crate containing several hundred manuscripts was secreted in Maastricht and then discovered later in the nineteenth century. Called the Maastricht Collectie, these were distributed to four libraries in the Netherlands: the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, and the University Libraries of Leiden, Utrecht, and Groningen. 70 All but twelve of these manuscripts are accounted for in these collections, but the book of hours from the beghards does not appear to be among the ‘missing’ twelve. Instead, Add. 24332 and many other manuscripts from the eastern Netherlands were swept up in a trail of goods whose vortex was Paris. Although the exact trajectory of each item cannot be determined with accuracy, it can be said that Napoleon’s policy of closing down the monasteries in all the territories he occupied and confiscating their property had the effect of putting many monastic manuscripts — as well as liturgical and religious objects of all kinds — on the market. In the wake of this shake-up, dealers materialised who orchestrated the redistribution of works from religious to secular ownership. The beghards’ manuscript was probably taken to Paris during this chaos.

At the British Museum, the Register for 1861 indicates that the prints were acquired by M. Tross, a member of a family of book dealers based in Paris. They must have done a swift trade in reselling books that had been confiscated by Napoleon’s armies: their names appear often in the sales records of manuscripts and prints purchased by the BM in the nineteenth century, and they sold items to other institutions as well, including the BnF, as I later learned. When the dealers prepared manuscripts for sale, the objects often changed shape. A few items were allowed to remain intact, or relatively intact. Most of the manuscripts containing prints must have been cut apart at this time, in the early nineteenth century. The manuscripts themselves (largely written in Middle Dutch or German, and therefore unreadable and undesirable to the French) were discarded or liquidated. They yielded the engravings, woodcuts, and metalcuts, which now populate the print rooms of major national collections across Europe. 71 Although many of the paintings that Napoleon looted were subsequently repatriated after 1814, the monastic remains that had already been auctioned off, as well as the books that had been cut up, could not be.

I suspected that half the prints were removed in France, before the book was sold on to the British Museum. If the manuscript had been confiscated from its monastery by Napoleon, then the prints may have landed in a collection as a group, either directly or through the mediation of dealers. I looked for them by scouring the pages of Einblattdrucke des fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts . These constitute nearly a hundred large volumes about early single-leaf printing that were initially published by Paul Heitz (1923–1999), a scholar/collector based in Strasbourg. 72 Each volume covers one collection or a group of nearby collections, some public and others private. The volume numbers were not published in chronological order by volume number, and the upheaval of two world wars slowed and frustrated the process. Prints in Polish collections only appeared in 2016. 73 During the twentieth century, many prints changed hands or were destroyed, so the volumes capture a changing reality.

Although later editions present the images printed in black and white directly onto large pages, in early editions (such as a set in Brussels) the prints are hand-coloured to resemble the originals and reproduced as tipped-in sheets, pasted to the large album pages. In other words, this special edition of the series makes a simulacrum of the collector’s album, rather than a catalogue of it. The collector’s unit was the matte, either in an album or a box. The way in which Heitz published the prints was therefore guided by the principles of the collector, who sought to remove prints from their original contexts and place them instead in the context of the collection. Studying prints and collecting them, breaking manuscripts apart and pasting prints and their doppelgängers into albums were all mirrored activities. These volumes occasionally revealed groups of prints or series that could have been removed en masse from a single manuscript, but I found no such sub-collections that corresponded to the prints removed from Add. 24332.

The Heitz volumes did not cover the BnF; for that, I scoured the pages of Bouchot’s catalogue of ‘200 prints’ in the BnF from 1903. 74 Bouchot was a nationalist, and as he selected 200 prints from the collection and wrote about them, he did his best to maximise the role of France in the history of early printing, and to minimise that of Germany and the Low Countries. He attributed many prints to France that were clearly made elsewhere. His nationalism obscures the historical facts, but what is useful about his book is that he recorded the method and date of acquisition, if known. Otherwise, this information was not recorded systematically for the other early prints in the BnF.

Michèle Hébert’s 1982 catalogue of the northern European engravings in the BnF supplements Bouchot’s work of 1902 and is complete rather than selective. 75 But this, alas, is one of the more useless catalogues ever produced, for it excises all context, does not report what is on the backs of the images, reproduces them in a jarring variety of scales while refraining from indicating the size of the prints , and fails even to hint at the provenance or date of acquisition. It is difficult to imagine any project for which this catalogue would be a useful aid. Achieving no satisfaction with Hébert, I wrote to the BnF’s Cabinet des Estampes in January 2008 to ask about a cache of fifteenth-century Netherlandish and German prints that might have entered the collection around or before 1861. I never received a reply. To figure out whether the cache of prints from Add. 24332 had landed in Paris would require a trip there; however, I put off this trip for several years and finished a few other book projects instead.

The Missing Images: In Paris?

By the time I resumed this project in 2010, I had left my job as the curator of manuscripts at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Netherlands. In my free year, I walked the Camino de Santiago, wrote a film script, and wrote an article about ‘Dirty Books’ while holding a fellowship at the Courtauld; for this project, I measured the darkness of fingerprints and cumulative wear in medieval manuscripts to work out which sections had been most frequently read. 76 To fund the prints -in-manuscripts project, in the autumn of 2010 I applied for a grant from the Katharine F. Pantzer Junior Research Fellowship in the History of the Printed Book and was declined. In their boilerplate rejection letters, boards rarely justify their decisions. Perhaps they considered my project to be a manuscript, not a print, project. In January 2011 I drove to Scotland in an ice storm to take up a lectureship at St Andrews. I lived between a violent ocean that heaved dead aquatic mammals onto the shore, and a muddy field: between a stinking rock and a soft place. This strongly motivated me to redouble my efforts to escape to sunlit urban culture, and in the autumn of 2011, I applied for a fellowship from the Neil Ker fund — for the study of medieval manuscripts — administered by the British Academy, to go to Paris to look for the prints . The BA awarded me the fellowship but gave me only a third of the money I had requested. This put me in a bind: accepting the grant meant that I still had to go to Paris and do the work I had laid out, but do it on a third of the budget I had estimated, and make up the rest myself. I had already spent tens of thousands of dollars/euros/pounds on this project. I realised that a project such as this can only be completed by people with private funding. For their art history projects, the other 99% have to confine themselves to theoretical arguments about objects that have already been published or do web-based studies of digitised objects. To do original research on previously unknown manuscripts that are spread around Europe is a pricey sport.

I decided to make up the difference and accept the partial grant, which meant counting pennies. It was cheaper to rent a small apartment in Paris than to book a hotel for the entire period. Websites were beginning to appear that offered the kind of housing I sought. Various friends came to stay with me in my apartment, including someone I had met on the internet who was writing a novel involving time travel to the Middle Ages, in which my work on ‘Dirty Books’ provided some of the fodder: the hyper-masculine scientist-hero of the book scrapes some bacteria from a manuscript that is lurking under a layer of gold leaf, goes back in time, and cures the bubonic plague. 77 Days I spent in the BnF, evenings at art galleries, walking in Paris, bouncing ideas around with creative friends, and avoiding spending money.

One of the problems is that the Réserve print room within the BnF was open only two hours per week (although during the time I was working on this project, they expanded their hours to four per week, Tuesday and Thursday, 10–12). I braced myself for the traumatic experience of applying for a BnF reader’s card, which is expensive and requires an interview, in French, about why you need to see Dutch and German prints and manuscripts. Back in 1999, when I visited the BnF for the first time, the man who interviewed me wore a pince-nez and lacked any wrinkles that might have suggested he had ever smiled. He sat across an imposing desk from me, asking me questions about my research and then wincing as I stammered out a vaguely French answer, he all the while wielding a long and shiny knife with which he cut open the virgin pages of a nineteenth-century book, still connected at the top edge. He plodded on with this task through a haze of palpable boredom, and when I made a particularly egregious grammatical error he would pause, wince in such a way that he burned calories in the process, and then use his hand to corral some of the fibres he had launched from the book’s fold by the action of his flashing knife blade. I wondered whether he was going to hold me at knife-point and make me conjugate irregular French verbs, but he just grew bored of me and flung a reader’s card at me by way of dismissal.

Everything was different, and better, when I returned to Paris in 2012. The BnF staff had become friendlier. They treated Americans more sympathetically under Obama than under a Bush. The man with the pince-nez had disappeared, to be replaced by buoyant staff members who were helpful in any language. Most importantly, there was a new curator of prints in the BnF, Séverine Lepape, who aided my research tremendously and made it much more efficient than it otherwise would have been. I was able to complete my necessary work in Paris in a week.

I was in Paris for a week in summer 2012, bearing a spreadsheet with information about the size of the prints and their probable subjects. I was looking for approximately 124 prints of certain sizes and with particular subjects, as my spreadsheet indicated. (See the Appendix .) Rows in the spreadsheet I had coloured grey corresponded to missing prints and folios. In the archive mountains of dossiers and archival boxes were brought to me. Unlike the prints in London, those in Paris do not have identifying numbers that are related to their date of accession. While some prints were glued to mounts of standard size, as in London, most were mounted into albums, in which like were arranged with like in balanced compositions (fig. 60). I pored over the BnF’s fifteenth-century print holdings. Measured them. Evaluated their subjects. Of the prints I was looking for, many were small and had been cut from the page; others presumably had been full-page images, which could therefore not be on pages higher than 144 millimetres. (Folios in the Add. 24332 are between 143 and 144 mm high.) For folios with a hole cut into them, the corresponding print must have been smaller than the hole. I was also looking for images with red penwork of the sort that the beghards applied

Fig. 60  Album from Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, with three engravings by Israhel van Meckenem representing Christ as the Man of Sorrows. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 60 Album from Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, with three engravings by Israhel van Meckenem representing Christ as the Man of Sorrows. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Although many of the fifteenth-century prints in the BnF must have been excised from manuscripts, only a few still had bits of manuscript hanging from them, like flesh hanging from the bone. Prints still attached to a manuscript fragment could reveal their origins. In my first pass through all the fifteenth-century prints in the BnF, I found none with scraps of the Middle Dutch script from Add. 24332. If the BnF had purchased the prints , they had dispersed them onto various mounts, steamed them from their manuscript substrates, and thoroughly disguised and decontextualized them. That some of the prints still had some bits of manuscript attached to them demonstrated that part of the collection, at least, was harvested from manuscripts. For example, a small image of the Virgin of the Sun had been pasted into an initial (fig. 61). This, however came from a German, rather than from a Netherlandish, manuscript, to judge from the scrap of handwriting that still adheres to the print.

Fig. 61  Virgin of the Sun engraving, hand-coloured and pasted into the letter H in a German prayerbook. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea20aRes. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 61 Virgin of the Sun engraving, hand-coloured and pasted into the letter H in a German prayerbook. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea20aRes. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

My failure with these search methods forced me to begin looking at the problem in a different way. If a dealer/collector in or before 1861 obtained a manuscript full of prints and wanted to pluck just a few, which ones would he take? In my estimation, he would have mined the manuscript for its most collectable prints , those with the highest value, both cultural and monetary. I speculated that these would include prints with gold on them and those by named masters. My hypothetical dealer apparently did leave a few of the fine engravings by Israhel van Meckenem behind, and in particular the molested St Wolfgang. He wanted clean copies. Furthermore, the dealer or collector had been willing to cut through one of the Netherlandish woodcuts (with the Annunciation, on fol. 283v, see fig. 4 ) in order to capture whatever was on the other side. It is possible that he rated engravings more highly than woodcuts? Dozens of fifteenth-century engravings in the BnF became candidates, for example, one bearing the monogram of the Master ES, depicting the Face of Christ held by SS Peter and Paul. This print, however, measures 155 millimetres, making it slightly too large to fit into Add. 24332. However, several prints in the BnF did meet my requirements.

An engraving representing the Crucifixion, now in the BnF, has the kind of red penwork frame associated with prints pasted into manuscripts (fig. 62). Furthermore, the paper substrate of this print appears to comprise a complete leaf, cut from a manuscript, but not trimmed. It still had the dirt from handling the book near the bottom outer (left) corner, and stains along the right edge that might be glue, from when the leaf was inserted into a book. But was that book Add. 24332? Although this leaf had red penwork, it was not the same as that in the beghards’ book, and I concluded that the crucifixion did not come from the manuscript I was trying to reconstruct.

Fig. 62  Crucifixion, hand-coloured engraving, with a red penwork frame. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea18cRes 28. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 62 Crucifixion, hand-coloured engraving, with a red penwork frame. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea18cRes 28. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

I was looking for a Mass of St Gregory or another image appropriate to the Adoro te for folio ccccc xviii . An engraving attributed to Israhel van Meckenem (Paris, BNEstampes, Ea48Res; fig. 63) was a possible candidate. This image had been trimmed into a rectangle exactly 102 millimetres wide, which is the width of Add. 24332. In general, nineteenth-century French curators did not trim printed material off, even if they sometimes trimmed the print down to the quick. Far more likely was that someone — such as a beghard — had cut this roundel so that it would fit into a small manuscript. Furthermore, the beghards clearly received prints made by Israhel van Meckenem: this printer had a geographic range that included Maastricht, and the beghards were already among his customers. One can imagine that the French dealer leafing through Add. 24332 when it was still intact would select the largest and best prints for his collection and eventually his sales room. The Christ as Man of Sorrows was ‘signed’ ‘IvM’, and therefore more valuable to a collector, a breed perpetually more interested in objects that can be attributed with some certainty. Like the others in Paris, this print has been pasted to its mount, so I could not check the reverse to see if it contained the beghards’ distinctive scripts, and my hypothesis remains conjectural.

Fig. 63  Israhel van Meckenem, Christ as Man of Sorrows, engraving. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea48Res. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 63 Israhel van Meckenem, Christ as Man of Sorrows, engraving. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes, Ea48Res. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Another print that may have come from Add. 24332 is a painted metalcut depicting the Adoration of the Magi (fig. 64). This print is 109 millimetres high, and would be a good fit for folio ccc xviii , which should have imagery relevant to the Infancy of Christ . In fact, any one of dozens of prints depicting the Adoration of the Magi would be appropriate in this position, but this one caught my eye in the same way that it might have caught a nineteenth-century collector’s eye — as something slightly unusual, colourful, and noteworthy for its technique. Perhaps these qualities made the collector decide to express his desire with a knife. In fact, the back of the print has traces of glue and script, as if someone had pasted this image over a text page (fig. 65). Overlapping script with an image would be inconsistent with the design principles of the beghards’ manuscript, which suggested that this print had been pasted somewhere else, not in the beghards’ broken book.

Fig. 64 Adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, painted metalcut. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 64 Adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, painted metalcut. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 65  Reverse of the previous image. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Fig. 65 Reverse of the previous image. Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes. Published with kind permission from the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Rothschild

Séverine suggested that I look for the missing prints in the Rothschild collection at the Louvre. The famous family of bankers based in Paris in the nineteenth century were tremendous collectors of all kinds of exquisite objects, including manuscripts. 78 I had not realised that the Rothschilds’ appetite also extended to early prints , nor that the Louvre now housed the family’s print collection, because the collection had not been published. That day I wrote to the keepers of the print collection at the Louvre. They were able to accommodate my visit the next day; but they could give me just two hours with the collection, during which I would be allowed to photograph as much as I wanted. Armed with a couple of cameras, fully charged, extra batteries, pencils, papers, and ruler, I went to the Louvre and took 500 documentary photographs in the space of two hours.

In 2012 only one catalogue of the Rothschild prints existed, in typescript, with each sheet carefully tucked into an individual plastic sleeve. 79 This catalogue provided little information. Twentieth-century curators had mounted the prints onto standard-size mounts and stored them in giant folders, with a list of contents accompanying every box. They have been organised by medium and in chronological order, not in the order of accession. To see all the fifteenth-century prints , I called up the first fourteen boxes, and the early history of printing unfolded before me. It was clear that many of the early prints had been taken from manuscripts, and some may have even been taken from Add. 24332. Several prints had themes, approximate dates, and sizes that made them possible contenders for the beghards’ project.

For example, an engraving depicting the Adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, now Rothschild 57 (fig. 66) may have been one of the two full pages removed from the manuscript, either folio ccc xviii or ccc xxxi . Both these folios fell in a section about the birth of the Christ Child, which would have been enhanced by a variety of infancy images. While Rothschild 57 has some stray lines, made in the plate when the burin slipped slightly (for example, one slip overlapping the top boundary line), and some attempts at three-dimensionality that fall flat (the kings’ crowns), the print overall is sensitive and expressive. Its left edge has been trimmed, as if the print had been cut out of a bound volume, such as Add. 24332, but because it is now mounted to a board, it is impossible to know whether it is inscribed on the other side with the distinctive script of that manuscript.

Fig. 66 Adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild.

Fig. 66 Adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild.

The print adjacent to the Adoration in the Rothschild collection, no. 56, had some of the same features, which likewise made it a candidate. (Items in any collection with consecutive numbers sometimes share a common origin.) This print shows a little-known event, St Augustine at the beach (fig. 67). While strolling on the sand and contemplating the nature of the Trinity, Augustine encountered a small boy who was running between the water and a small hole in the sand, carrying a seashell. When Augustine asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied that he was carrying the sea to the small hole, one shellful at a time, until the whole sea was contained in the hole. St Augustine exclaimed, ‘That’s impossible! The sea is great and the hole is small.’ The boy agreed, but retorted, ‘I will sooner empty the whole sea into that small pool than you will comprehend the mystery of the Trinity!’ Then the boy disappeared. According to the Golden Legend, the boy was an angel, sent to the saint to teach him about the limits of human understanding of the mysteries of the faith. 80

Fig. 67  St Augustine encountering the infant Jesus on a riverbank, engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 56. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

Fig. 67 St Augustine encountering the infant Jesus on a riverbank, engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 56. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

How might this have fitted into the manuscript? One can imagine that children would like this story, because of the role reversal between teacher and student. While I am far from certain that this print once sat in Add. 24332, it might have functioned as did the other of the two full pages removed from the manuscript in the infancy section, either folio ccc xviii or ccc xxxi . I was proposing, in other words, that someone had removed two engravings from the manuscript that had been close together. That both landed adjacent to one another in the same nineteenth-century collection strengthened this hypothesis. Furthermore, a feature of no. 56 made it an attractive candidate for this role: a rubricator had touched the lips and cheeks of the saint and the boy with a red pen, as well as a quincunx of bosses on Augustine’s book. Perhaps the rubricator was confused about the subject of the print, and therefore gave the child a red stigmata, turning the boy/angel into Jesus. This was in keeping with the activities of the rubricator elsewhere in the manuscript, where the red pen enhanced many of the otherwise black-and-white images.

Many other prints in the Rothschild collection were similarly tantalising as candidates for the beghards’ manuscript, yet similarly inconclusive. For example, an engraving representing the Pentecost that was highly gilded may have been removed from folio cccc xcvii , a folio, I had suspected, originally with a full-page image of that subject (fig. 68). I could imagine a situation in which a French connoisseur, upon opening the beghards’ book of hours shortly after it was confiscated around 1800, would have felt bedazzled by all the prints , and cut a few out to collect or to sell. He would have cut out the best and brightest, including those with gilding, such as the Pentecost, which would have originally formed a folio in the manuscript. A problem with this example relates to the professional photography provided by the Louvre: it flattens the shimmering gold and disables one from seeing the tooled burnished background. Professional photography from the Louvre costs, in 2019, €65 per shot, but my own hand-held photograph of the same object captures the texture of the surface and the cut left edge more effectively (fig. 69).

Fig. 68  Pentecost, gilt engraving, formerly pasted to fol. cccc xcvii of the beghards’ book of hours? Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 54. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

Fig. 68 Pentecost, gilt engraving, formerly pasted to fol. cccc xcvii of the beghards’ book of hours? Paris, Louvre , Rothschild 54. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

Fig. 69  Pentecost, gilt engraving, formerly pasted to fol. cccc xcvii of the beghards’ book of hours? Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 54. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Fig. 69 Pentecost, gilt engraving, formerly pasted to fol. cccc xcvii of the beghards’ book of hours? Paris, Louvre , Rothschild 54. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

The Pentecost print clearly belonged with the next print in the Rothschild collection, no. 55, representing Christ in Judgement, an engraving gilded in a similar way to no. 54 (figs 70 and 71). Perhaps this Last Judgement once prefaced the Seven Penitential Psalms and had been foliated as c xxxiii bis and had caused an offset on 632. If so, then it was part of the second wave of prints added by the beghards. We shall never know with certainty, however, because an early collector trimmed it down to the quick, thereby removing any foliation or offsets.

Fig. 70  Christ in Judgment, gilt engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 55. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

Fig. 70 Christ in Judgment, gilt engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 55. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

Fig. 71  Christ in Judgment, gilt engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 55. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

Fig. 71 Christ in Judgment, gilt engraving. Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 55. Photo: Kathryn M. Rudy.

A highly crafted engraving depicting the Virgin and Child on a sliver of moon and surrounded by a rosary, Rothschild no. 69, may originally have had a place in Add. 24332 as folio ccc xviii (fig. 72). Although Lehrs had ascribed this print to the Master of the Housebook, no doubt because of its fine technique that resembles the drypoint for which that artist was famous, the print probably dates from the end of the fifteenth century. Again, one could imagine that a collector in the early nineteenth century would have passed through the beghards’ manuscript and collected the most beautiful, exquisite, unusual prints , leaving the more mundane examples behind.

Fig. 72  Virgin and Child on a sliver of moon, surrounded by a rosary, originally in London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332 as fol. ccc xviii? Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 69. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

Fig. 72 Virgin and Child on a sliver of moon, surrounded by a rosary, originally in London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332 as fol. ccc xviii? Paris, Louvre, Rothschild 69. Paris, musée du Louvre, collection Rothschild Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre)/Tony Querrec.

For the most part, however, I concluded that the cache of prints removed from Add. 2432 had not entered the Rothschild collection en masse . My reason? In all, the fifteenth-century prints in the Rothschild collection are large. The baron was apparently not interested in small prints . Since the prints that came from Add. 24332 could not have been taller than 144 millimetres, I had to reject most of the Rothschild ones. Having not found what I was looking for at the Louvre, I returned to the BnF and tried a different tactic to find the missing prints .

Tross, Again

Although going through all the fifteenth-century prints in the BnF systematically had allowed me to identify a few prints that may have come from Add. 24332, I could connect not a single one with certainty to the manuscript. Before abandoning Paris, I wanted to find out whether a group of prints had entered the BnF that might have been taken from the beghards’ manuscript but then dispersed throughout the collection according to its own organisational demands. Philippe, who fetches prints in the reading room of the Réserve collection and has a long institutional memory, gave me a few more discovery aids. At a certain point, he brought me the Acquisitions Register. The BnF, like the British Museum, has a handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century (fig. 73). Whereas the English curator at the BM gave a separate line to each item of acquisition, the French described an entire purchase of a group of items with a few descriptors. Because of this approach to record-keeping, the French Acquisitions Register divulges even less information than the English one. For example, it is nearly impossible to connect an item from the Acquisitions Register with an item currently in the collection.

Fig. 73  Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, in Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes.

Fig. 73 Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, in Paris, BnF, Département des Estampes.

One way to tackle this register was by looking for sellers’ names. Tross, the dealer who had sold Add. 24332 to the BM, makes several appearances in this Acquisitions Register. For example, on 28 July 1859 he sold the BnF sixteen niellos from the twelfth century, which came from the Cathedral of Aix-la-Chapelle ( Aachen) for 85 francs (fig. 74). And then on 28 March 1860, Tross sold them a cache of prints :

Vingt-huit pièces du XV e siècle dont onze gravées au burin en manière criblée, quinze gravées au burin, une grave sur bois, et une pièce non décrite de maître au monogramme S. Ces vingt-huit pièces appartenants à l’époque dite des incunables décorent un manuscript enbas allemand qui porte la date de 1463.

For this the BnF had paid Tross 1250 francs (fig. 75). This description probably referred to a manuscript that Ursula Weekes has worked on (Paris, BnF, Rés Ea 6). 81 If so, Tross did not cut this up or try to sell the parts separately. It is difficult to deduce from this evidence whether he ever cut up items, or whether he just sold them as he had received them. He makes several other appearances in the Acquisitions Register for later prints of German origin. For example, on 11 August 1868, he sold the BnF: ‘Deux pièces allemandes (non décrites) gravées en criblé par un maître anonyme de la première moitié du XV e siècle et servant d’ornement à un manuscrit. Les deux pièces représentent l’une Le portement de Croix , l’autre la Sainte Face’ (fig. 76). Alas, I have not been able to connect these with a particular manuscript.

Fig. 74  Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, for 28 July 1859, BnF.

Fig. 74 Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, for 28 July 1859, BnF.

Fig. 75  Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, Vingt-huit pièces de XVe siècle, 28 March 1860, BnF.

Fig. 75 Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, Vingt-huit pièces de XVe siècle, 28 March 1860, BnF.

Fig. 76  Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, for 11 August 1868, in the BnF.

Fig. 76 Handwritten list of acquisitions from the nineteenth century, for 11 August 1868, in the BnF.

What can one deduce from these entries in the BnF’s register? Tross did a swift trade in ecclesiastical objects by bringing items dislodged from the region around Aachen and Kleve to Paris. Prints formed only part of what he sold. He must have had many private clients, as well as the BnF, because his sporadic sales to the library would not have sustained his entire business. Indeed, he also sold items to London. However, I have no evidence that he broke up the beghards’ manuscript and sold choice bits of it to the BnF. In fact, when he did sell manuscript- print hybrids, he left them intact. I could identify no other groups of prints in the acquisitions register that might have been candidates. In the end I had to conclude that the prints that had been cut out of the manuscript before Tross sold it to the English had not entered the BnF in one go, nor had they entered the Rothschild collection.

While in Paris, Séverine asked me to work on an exhibition at the Louvre with her; it was to be about the functions of early prints in Europe. I wrote two essays for her exhibition catalogue. 82 It was a satisfying way to redeem the time I had spent with the BnF and Rothschild collections, which had not divulged the items from Add. 24332. The University had declined my application for a promotion to Senior Lecturer, and I continued living paycheck to paycheck, because all of my salary, beyond food, rent, and petrol, was going into the 292 high-resolution digital images that were to be published in the other book I had been working on in this period, for Yale University Press. (Subventions from the Catherine Mackichan Trust, the Carnegie Trust of the Universities of Scotland and the Historians of Netherlandish Art, and the School of Art History, University of St Andrews had covered about £3000 of the £8700-worth of images.) My Head of School at the time, Brendan Cassidy, understood my financial distress and encouraged me to lift images from existing publications. One problem with that plan was that images I had studied were largely unpublished, so there were no publications to be ripped off in this way. Having to pay for new photography is the surcharge on doing original research on previously unstudied objects. I was so broke that I could not return to Paris to see the show when it eventually opened, but I hear it was a great success.

Working on this project in Paris in the summer of 2012, I had maximised the brief time allowed in the Réserve print room at the BnF and in the Rothschild collection. That week in Paris was still so expensive that when my time was up, I had only £4 in my bank account. After Paris, I was scheduled to give a lecture at the Herzog August Bibliotheek in Wolffenbüttel. I had purchased a cheap flight from Paris to Berlin months earlier but did not have enough money to take the train from Berlin to Wolffenbüttel. In the Berlin Hauptbahnhof I learned that I had run out of mobile phone credit. I talked some guy into letting me use his phone to call my bank (TSB) to ask them to give me some emergency cash. They would not. An eavesdropper bought me a sandwich. And in one of the most unexpected acts I have witnessed, a German train conductor recognised my urgency and desperation to get to Wolffenbüttel and let me ride the train for free by turning a blind eye to my ticket-less presence on the train.

Holes and Patterns

On 23 July 2013 — after pondering this for a year, and after poring over more than a thousand photographs from the Louvre and the BnF, and after studying and restudying the spreadsheet I had made of the contents of Add. 24332 — I saw something I had not seen before: there was a pattern in the holes, the missing bits of the manuscript that corresponded to prints . In my spreadsheet, I had noted the dimensions of the missing prints . Nearly all the holes were rectangular. Because photographs from the British Library are expensive, I had not ordered photographs of all the folios with missing prints , but only of a few. I was visualising the missing prints as rectangular. However, studying one of the photographs I did have with a missing print — that with Add. 41338, folio 9v — allowed me see the situation in a new way (fig. 77). This folio has a diminutive image in pen and ink, which the scribe probably added, depicting a clerical figure in the lower margin, who is eagerly praying upward to what is now a piece of nineteenth-century blank white paper. The accompanying rubric announces that the prayer is dedicated to St Clare, who must also have been the subject of the print that had been cut out of the initial. I had noted that the hole is roughly rectangular, and I had been looking for a rectangular print to fill it. But then I had this realisation: when nineteenth-century cutters removed items, they did so with a knife that cut in straight lines. When they cut out round things, they left square holes. Therefore, I should also be looking for roundels. In my spreadsheet I looked for square holes and added notes to consider roundels in those cases.

Fig. 77  Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a pen drawing of a kneeling cleric, beneath an initial that probably once contained a print depicting St Clare. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 9v.

Fig. 77 Folio from the beghards’ book of hours, with a pen drawing of a kneeling cleric, beneath an initial that probably once contained a print depicting St Clare. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 9v.

This relic of the tool seems obvious now, especially because the print that came from Add. 41338, fol. 9v was a roundel that must have fitted the round letter O . In my estimation, this roundel must have had a diameter of about 42 millimetres. In going through thousands of fifteenth-century prints , the only image that meets that description is the roundel by Israhel van Meckenem depicting St Francis with St Clare, which the beghards could have cut from the engraver’s larger sheets apparently meant for that purpose (e-fig. 65). A digital reconstruction provides an idea of what the folio originally looked like (fig. 78).

BM 1849,1208.739 — Six roundels depicting the infant Chris ( e-fig. 65)

Six roundels depicting the infant Christ as Salvator Mundi and saints, signed by Israhel van Meckenem in the plate, intact. London, British Museum, Department of Prints & Drawings, inv. 1849,1208.739.

Fig. 78  Digital reconstruction: Israhel van Meckenem’s roundel with SS Francis and Clare, superimposed on a leaf from what was the beghards’ manuscript, now London, British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 9v.

Fig. 78 Digital reconstruction: Israhel van Meckenem’s roundel with SS Francis and Clare, superimposed on a leaf from what was the beghards’ manuscript, now London , British Library, Add. Ms. 41338, fol. 9v.

Once I realised that square and rectangular holes could yield round prints , I knew that several of the other roundels on the same sheet by Israhel were probable candidates for the other missing prints . Israhel’s sheet of six roundels, listed in Lehrs as 447 , depicts the Infant Christ as Salvator Mundi; St Anne with Mary and the Christ Child; SS Cosmas and Damian; St Ursula with her maidens; SS Francis and Clare; and SS Dominic and Catherine of Siena. 83 Israhel designed them to be trimmed and deployed as roundels. A roundel with St Anne would fit on folio 351 (formerly folio ccc xci ; fig. 79); one with St Ursula would fit on folio 396 (formerly folio cccc xlij ). If I could find loose copies of these roundels (which are easy to recognise), they might lead me to a cache of other prints taken from Add. 24332, and I could complete the task of reconstructing the manuscript. According to Lehrs, copies of the roundels are housed in Berlin, Bologna, Brussels, London, Paris, Vienna, ‘und andere’. Over the next several years, I visited all of these places and looked for the prints taken from Add. 24332. Several of these tantalize: the copies in London to which Lehrs refers include the roundel depicting Francis with Clare; however, as I will show in the next chapter, it was peeled from a different manuscript.

Fig. 79  Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, with a prayer to St Anne, which has been partially mutilated. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 351 (ccc xci).

Fig. 79 Folio in the beghards’ book of hours, with a prayer to St Anne, which has been partially mutilated. London, British Library, Add. Ms. 24332, fol. 351 (ccc xci).

Conclusions

Books of hours, as a rule, were written on parchment, which conferred upon them a gravitas and longevity that were not characteristics of paper. Highly unusually, however, the beghards wrote their book of hours (Add. 24332) on paper. Does that fact indicate that they originally set out to make the book with prints glued in it? No. I have come to this conclusion because my reconstruction shows no evidence that the beginning of the manuscript had any foliated and inscribed prints , but only some that were added in a second wave; I therefore hypothesise that the beghards came up with the idea of affixing and integrating prints only part of the way through the making process. We are therefore witnessing their first, stumbling steps in applying the new technology.

The few prints near the beginning of the book did not include any at the major text divisions of the offices: this is precisely where one would expect to find imagery and embellishment, as nearly all illuminated books of hours have. It appears that the book’s designer (Jan van Emmerick?) only thought of the idea of enhancing the book with prints when the copying was partly completed. But as the beghards progressed with the writing, they pasted in more and more prints , so that by folio ccc xvii , for example, there are (were!) prints pasted on both recto and verso (see fig. 4 ).

Not only that, but after the writing was completed, Jan van Emmerick could not stop adding images to the new book. Specifically, he must have added 632, 636, and 637. One of these is a Netherlandish engraving depicting the infant Christ seated on a pillow with the Arma Christi (632), which he added to preface the Seven Penitential Psalms, although this image does not relate to these prayers in an obvious way. In fact, all three of these prints have a less than obvious relationship with the texts in the prayerbook, whereas most of the other prints in the book depict, say, a saint mentioned in close proximity to where the image was glued; it is therefore plausible that Jan had these three prints in his possession before 1500, but that he found places for them in the manuscript only after a long think.

That he added these after the manuscript was foliated would explain why these prints were blank on the back: because they were not present when the writing began. I surmise that he wanted to populate the beginning of the manuscript with images because the first hundred-odd folios had a dearth of them. This was because the idea of integrating prints into the hand-written manuscript only occurred part-way through the writing. The earliest place in the book where I have evidence that the scribe was integrating prints during the writing process is fol. c xlvi , which was cut out. This folio would have prefaced the litany (fol. c xlvii ; or 118). That the text is discontinuous from 116v-118r indicates that the folio that was removed — presumably for its print — also contained text, and that, therefore, image and text were integrated on this page.

Given the prints’ origins in different sources, they are not of a standard size, and therefore the beghards had to handle them differently. Some rectangular prints were printed onto octavo-sized sheets, and the entire sheet inserted into the binding, so that the paper of the print itself became a page of the book. With the exceptions just mentioned, the verso sides of these sheets have been ruled to take the scribe’s text. Small roundels were turned into instant historiated initials. Medium-sized images were integrated on text pages: sometimes the scribe pasted the image in such a way that it ran well into the border area so that it would not take up too much writing space. All this suggests that the people who assembled Add. 24332 (Jan van Emmerick and companions) had access to a large number of prints when writing the manuscript, but that these prints were not acquired specifically to be included in this manuscript. The haphazardness of the prints , their sizes and media, provides evidence that the beghards were not making prints themselves. If they were, they would have probably standardised the sheets, worked in a single technique, made the subjects that they needed, and emphasised local saints. By using the printed products of remote producers, they were at the mercy of what the market would provide, to some extent. Producers did not understand consumers’ exact needs. When the beghards could not obtain what they wanted, they trimmed, scribbled, overpainted, relabelled, reframed, and reidentified printed subjects to make the prints fit their needs.

The beghards’ assembly methods represent a particular category of hybrid book production. Before the fifteenth century, manuscripts had largely been bespoke; from the early fifteenth century, books were beginning to be made for a market, without a buyer in mind before construction started. Add. 24332 represents a third category: a manuscript made for one’s own use. In fact, in the fifteenth century manuscripts at the highest end of the market (those made by the most skilled practitioners for elite recipients) and those at the lowest end (books made by amateurs for their own use) often contain some of the greatest innovations, while those made for the middle of the market (for example, books of hours with illuminations attributed to the Masters of the Gold Scrolls) often contain images and texts based on boilerplate models, with a division of labour and specialisation. The inclusion of printed images changed the books for these markets in different ways. For the beghards, prints represent the ultimate in the division of labour, since they make use of the labour of dozens of anonymous printmakers, whose skills could dazzle buyers, but from a distance of hundreds of miles away. Prints allowed amateur men in Maastricht to include many images, although their skill as draughtsmen was undeveloped.

Understanding what the beghards added involves examining the process of later removal. This is a kind of forensics that is continuous with ideas of book reconstruction and stratigraphy but goes beyond that to coordinate absences, rather than presences. When the French occupied Maastricht, closed the monasteries, and confiscated their property, they probably brought the manuscript to France, where many of the prints (now lost) must have been cut out. Although I have an idea about what these prints depicted, I have not been able to put my finger on them. From the size of the holes left in the manuscript, some of which would perfectly accommodate Israhel van Meckenem’s roundels, I infer that the first wave of prints cut out by a nineteenth-century dealer included engravings by Israhel. This engraver embellished many of the prints he made with ornate display letters, much to the satisfaction of collectors, who often prefer objects with a nameable artist. Israhel’s signatures made his work easily recognisable to early collectors of engravings. One of the prints the collector missed in his pass through the manuscript was the Virgin and Child, in which polychromy obscures the monogram of the artist (633, see fig. 34 ). After a collector had removed the choice prints , the British Museum bought the manuscript from the Parisian dealer Edwin Tross in 1861 and further disassembled it.

Although the manuscript-cum- print assemblage has been harvested at least twice, and its parts now scattered, putting the prints together with the manuscript — even partially — is extremely fruitful for its research results. For example, neither Lehrs nor Geisberg had described number 670 ( e-fig. 32 ), so it escaped the wishful attribution of many of the other early engravings in the BM collection, and instead is simply listed as ‘made by Anonymous.’ It is probably Netherlandish. The museum’s record notes that it is a ‘Leaf to a prayerbook’, but does not connect it to the other prints from the same source. Whereas the BM had dated it to the sixteenth century, probably because it is delicate and expressive, the manuscript evidence presented here shows that it predated 1500. Reconstructing this manuscript allows us to take fresh stock of the accomplishments of the fifteenth century. Paradoxically, my sharing my data with the museum has led them to update their records, meaning that information I in fact generated could appear belated by the time the current study is published.

Reconstructing this manuscript has permitted a hitherto unavailable snapshot of the prints that were available in Maastricht in 1500 and given the fullest possible picture of how prints were used as one of several systems for creating the richest book with minimal labour. Since the scribes and the monastic house to which they belonged were male, they demonstrate that men, not just women, ‘illustrated’ manuscripts with prints . One can also perceive the didactic role that the prints played in the manuscript, and one senses that the beghards as teachers were looking for multi-media ways to stimulate their students, to teach not just how to read, and the content of those readings, but also how to use a book, how to use images, how to organise and navigate through information. In short, the reconstructed book allows one to evaluate the history of books, information, and ideas in a way that its disparate parts cannot do. What this project has demonstrated is that the beghards were willing to treat prints interchangeably, and that at least one of the scribes possessed an extremely organised mind and expressed it by making important advances in the way in which he ordered and indexed information. In the following chapter I delve more deeply into these processes.


1 Studies that have addressed this transition include: Curt F. Bühler, The Fifteenth-Century Book : The Scribes , the Printers , the Decorators (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016, originally published 1960), esp. pp. 84–87; Mary Erler, ‘Pasted-in Embellishments in English Manuscripts and Printed Books c. 1480–1533’, The Library , 6:14 (1992), pp. 185–206 (who is primarily concerned with English material); Gerd Dicke, and Klaus Grubmüller, eds. Die Gleichzeitigkeit von Handschrift und Buchdruck , Wolfenbütteler Mittelalter-Studien, vol. 16 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2003); Herman Pleij and J. Reynaert, eds., Geschreven en Gedrukt : Boekproductie van Handschrift naar Druk in de Overgang van Middeleeuwen naar Moderne Tijd (Ghent: Academia Press, 2004); Jan Willem Klein, ‘Pragmatische Procesveranderingen in de Boekverluchting’, in Manuscripten en Miniaturen : Studies Aangeboden aan Anne S. Korteweg bij haar Afscheid van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek , ed. J. A. A. M. Biemans, Klaas van der Hoek, Kathryn Rudy and Ed van der Vlist (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2007), pp. 217–29.

2 As James Douglas Farquhar states in ‘The Manuscript as a Book’, in Pen to Press : Illustrated Manuscripts and Printed Books in the First Century of Printing , ed. Sandra Hindman and James Douglas Farquhar (College Park, MD: Art Dept., University of Maryland, 1977): ‘In this vast middle ground between the manuscript which copies a printed book and the printed book which simulates its manuscript model there is much material which relates to both media while conforming to neither. Book makers produced manuscripts with woodcut or engraved prints, printed books with miniatures, single leaves with and without script or block lettering, and the blockbook. Such experiments, among others, suggest that contemporary with the inception of printing with movable type — although not necessarily caused by it — there were a great many solutions for the illustrated book attempted in the book market’ (p. 104).

3 Peter Schmidt, Gedruckte Bilder in Handgeschriebenen Büchern : zum Gebrauch von Druckgraphik im 15. Jahrhundert , Pictura et Poesis: Interdisziplinäre Studien zum Verhältnis von Literatur und Kunst (Cologne: Böhlau, 2003); Ursula Weekes, Early Engravers and Their Public : The Master of the Berlin Passion and Manuscripts from Convents in the Rhine-Maas Region , ca. 1450–1500 (London: Harvey Miller, 2004); Peter Schmidt, ‘The Early Print and the Origins of the Picture Postcard’, and Ursula Weekes, ‘Convents as Patrons and Producers of Woodcuts in the Low Countries around 1500’, both in The Woodcut in Fifteenth-Century Europe , ed. Peter W. Parshall, Studies in the History of Art (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 2009); David S. Areford, The Viewer and the Printed Image in Late Medieval Europe , Visual Culture in Early Modernity (Farnham, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010).

4 Wilhelm Ludwig Schreiber, Manuel de l’Amateur de la Gravure sur Bois et sur Métal au XVe Siècle , 8 vols. (Berlin: A. Cohn, 1891–1911); and Max Lehrs, Geschichte und Kritischer Katalog des Deutschen, Niederländischen und Französischen Kupferstichs im XV. Jahrhundert, 9 vols. (Vienna: Gesellschaft für vervielfältigende Kunst, 1908).

5 Defining knowledge also led to the physical deconstruction of drawing collections, for which see Kristel Smentek, ‘The Collector’s Cut: Why Pierre-Jean Mariette Tore up His Drawings and Put Them Back Together Again’, Master Drawings 46:1 (2008), pp. 36–60.

7 Robert Priebsch, Deutsche Handschriften in England, 2 vols. (Erlangen: Fr. Junge, 1896–1901), vol. II, no. 251; Karel de Flou and Edward Gailliard, Beschrijving van Middelnederlandsche en Andere Handschriften, die in Engeland Bewaard Worden: Verslag Ingediend bij het Belgisch Staatsbestuur en de Koninklijke Vlaamsche Academie, 2 vols. (Ghent: Siffer, 1895–1897), vol. II (1897), pp. 103–06.

8 The resulting article appeared as Kathryn Rudy, ‘A Play Built for One: The Passion of St. Barbara’, in The Sides of the North : An Anthology in Honor of Professor Yona Pinson , ed. Tamar Cholcman and Assaf Pinkus (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2015), pp. 56–82.

9 One could compare the silhouetting of prints with the more vigorous trimming and reorganisation that they undergo in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as described by Adam Smyth, Material Texts in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), esp. Ch. 1.

10 Weekes, Early Engravers and Their Public .

12 Karl Stooker and Theo Verbeij, Collecties op Orde : Middelnederlandse Handschriften uit Kloosters en Semi-Religieuze Gemeenschappen in De Nederlanden , 2 vols, Miscellanea Neerlandica (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), vol. II, no. 878. The entries in vol. II, pp. 288–96 list the manuscripts known to have been in the beghards’ possession.

13 Jan Deschamps, ‘De Herkomst van het Leidse Handschrift van de Sint-Servatiuslegende van Hendrik van Veldeke’, Handelingen van de Koninklijke Zuidnederlandse Maatschappij voor Taal- en Letterkunde en Geschiedenis 12 (1958), pp. 65–66, no. 9.

14 The note may refer to ‘onze moeder’ (our mother). I owe this suggestion to Hanno Wijsman.

15 For a lively account of Napoleon’s art pillaging, see Cecil Hilton Monk Gould, Trophy of Conquest : The Musée Napoléon and the Creation of the Louvre (London: Faber & Faber, 1965).

16 A. D. Welters, ‘De Kloosterkerk der Begaarden te Maastricht’, Nedermaas 1927/8, pp. 33–35. The drawings are preserved in 21.210B, inv. no. 1982.

17 Kathryn M. Rudy, Rubrics , Images and Indulgences in Late Medieval Netherlandish Manuscripts , Library of the Written World, vol. 55 (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp. 3–4.

18 For beguines and their manuscripts, see: Judith Oliver, ‘Je Pecherise Renc Grasces a Vos: Some French Devotional Texts in Beguine Psalters’, in Medieval Codicology , Iconography , Literature , and Translation : Studies for Keith Val Sinclair , ed. by Peter Rolfe Monks and D. D. R. Owen. Litterae Textuales, pp. 248–66 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994); Walter Simons, ‘Reading a Saint’s Body: Rapture and Bodily Movement in the “Vitae” of Thirteenth-Century Beguines’, in Framing Medieval Bodies , ed. by Sarah Kay and Miri Rubin, pp. 10–23 (Manchester; New York: Manchester University Press, distributed by St. Martin’s Press, 1994); Joanna E. Ziegler, Sculpture of Compassion : The Pietà and the Beguines in the Southern Low Countries , c.1300-c.1600 . Etudes d’Histoire de l’Art, 6 (Brussels; Turnhout: Institut historique belge de Rome; Brepols, 1992).

19 For an overview of the beghards’ origins and history, see M. Schoengen and P. C. Boeren, Monasticon Batavum , 3 vols. (Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandsche Uitg. Maatschappij, 1942), Franciscans, pp. 139–40.

20 Baron von Geusau, ‘Korte Geschiedenis der Kloosters te Maastricht’, Publications de la Société Historique et Archéologique dans le Duché de Limbourg = Jaarboek van Limburgs Geschied- en Oudheidkundig Genootschap XXXI, nouvelle série, no. tome XI (1894), here p. 41.

21 Ibid., here: pp. 44–45.

22 Stooker and Verbeij, vol. II, pp. 297–303.

23 Many of the manuscripts made in this monastery are now in the Gemeentemuseum in Weert. For a discussion of the Servaas scribe and all the manuscripts he worked on, see Deschamps, ‘De Herkomst van het Leidse Handschrift van de Sint-Servatiuslegende van Hendrik van Veldeke’.

24 There are missing folios before 138 and 162.

25 It reads: ‘Ghebenedijt moet sijn den soeten naem Ihs ende Maria synre ghebenedider moeder nu ende inder ewichheid. Amen’.

26 Marrow, ‘A Book of Hours from the Circle of the Master of the Berlin Passion: Notes on the Relationship between Fifteenth-Century Manuscript Illumination and Printmaking in the Rhenish Lowlands’, p. 611. Mary Erler analyses the phenomenon of the printed roundel pasted into a manuscript in ‘Pasted-in Embellishments in English Manuscripts and Printed Books c. 1480–1533’, The Library , 6th ser., 14 (1992), pp. 185–206.

27 The Cotton Collection within the British Library is an exception to this pattern: Cotton items still have shelf numbers based on the busts of Roman emperors that Cotton used to identify the bookshelves in his elaborate collection.

28 As mentioned, the Appendix can be viewed here: https://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/806#resources

29 See Maud Lavin, Cut with the Kitchen Knife : The Weimar Photomontages of Hannah Hö ch (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993).

30 For a discussion of this engraver, see Weekes, Early Engravers and Their Public , pp. 60–64, 85–87, 169–73 and passim.

31 Ursula Weekes discusses this manuscript in Early Engravers and Their Public , pp. 167–85.

32 Lehrs IX.268.320, where IX is the volume number, 268 is the page, and 320 is the catalogue number.

33 Lehrs IX.268.320.

34 Sixten Ringbom, ‘Some Pictorial Conventions for the Recounting of Thoughts and Experiences in Late Medieval Art’, in Medieval Iconography and Narrative : A Symposium , ed. Flemming Gotthelf Andersen, Odense Universitet. Laboratorium for Folkesproglig Middela litteratur (Odense: Odense University Press, 1980), pp. 38–69.

35 Martina Bagnoli, ed. Treasures of Heaven : Saints , Relics , and Devotion in Medieval Europe , exh. cat, Cleveland Museum of Art, Walters Art Museum, British Museum (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), pp. 203–04, with further references.

36 Kathryn Rudy, Postcards on Parchment : The Social Lives of Medieval Books (New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2015) contains a discussion of single sheets that can be better read unencumbered by a book block.

37 S2691.

38 S2541 (St Antoine/Anthony, which is the first print in this group to appear in the catalogue).

39 The prints were transferred in 1935 to Schreiber, Woodcuts Vol. 4, S1230a.

40 S2699; Campbell Dodgson, Catalogue of Early German and Flemish Woodcuts in the British Museum , 2 vols, London, British Museum Trustees, 1903, cat. B.15(3), puts the prints in this group together and discusses them on p. 183, comparing at some length the woodcut technique with that of ‘dotted’ metalcuts.

41 Lehrs vol. III, p. 398, no. 73 (St Bernard).

42 Susan Dackerman, Painted Prints : The Revelation of Color in Northern Renaissance & Baroque Engravings , Etchings & Woodcuts (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002), esp. pp. 9–47 and passim.

43 Lehrs wondered about the dating of several prints treated in this study. About the St Cecilia (Lehrs VII, 14, p. 343, 1861.1109.638), he wrote: ‘Auf der Rückweite 15 Zeilen Text. 1861. Aus demselben flämischen Gebetbuch wie Nr. 15. Nach den welligen Formen des Spruchbandes scheint es doch fraglich, ob der Stich noch dem XV. Jahrhundert angehört.’

44 References to all of the academic literature mentioned in this section appear on the BM website, alongside the images. Follow the links to find them.

45 Cf. Weekes, ‘Convents as Patrons and Producers of Woodcuts in the Low Countries around 1500’.

46 Schmidt, ‘The Early Print and the Origins of the Picture Postcard’; Peter Schmidt, ‘The Use of Prints in German Convents of the Fifteenth Century: The Example of Nuremberg’, Studies in Iconography 24 (2003); Schmidt, Gedruckte Bilder in handgeschriebenen Büchern : zum Gebrauch von Druckgraphik im 15. Jahrhundert ; Peter Schmidt, ‘Bildgebrauch und Frömmigkeitspraxis: Bemerkungen zur Benutzung früher Druckgraphik’, in Spiegel der Seligkeit : Privates Bild und Frömmigkeit im Spätmittelalter , ed. Frank Matthias Kammel and Andreas Curtius (Nürnberg: Verlag des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, 2000).

47 ‘Aus demselben flämischen Gebetbuch wie Nr. 15’. Lehrs VII, p. 343.

48 ‘Aus dem 1861 von Tross in Paris erworbenen niederdeutschen Brevier’. Lehrs III, p. 221.

49 ‘Vergl. auch Nr. 59 II. und 61 II, die aus demselben niederrheinischen Brevier stammen. Es war mit Stichten des XV. und XVI. Jahrhunderts vollgeklebt’. Lehrs III, p. 320.

50 ‘1861 aus einem von Tross in Paris erworbenen niederdeutschen Manuskript’, Lehrs III, p. 73.

51 ‘Teilweise mit Grün und Gelb bemalt und auf ein Blatt aus einem 1861 von Tross in Paris erworbenen Manuskript geklebt. Auf der Vorder- und Rückseite je 15 Zeilen flämischer Text’. Lehrs III, p. 396.

52 ‘Koloriert, aus dem 1861 von Troß in Paris erworbenen niederdeutschen Gebetbuch’. Lehrs IX, p. 252.

53 See the ‘Curator’s comments’ section in the British Museum online record for this print, www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectId=1348312&partId=1

55 One can point to earlier instances of the physical separation of the work of scribes and illuminators, whose respective work was joined shortly before binding. For example, cycles of full-page images were often inserted at the beginning of Psalters. However, the efficiency of such production methods is stepped up around 1390, driven no doubt by demand for books of hours.

56 A full account of the Masters of the Pink Canopies and their workshop methods has yet to be written. Until then, see Maurits Smeyers, Vlaamse Miniaturen voor van Eyck , ca. 1380-ca. 1420 . Catalogus: Cultureel Centrum Romaanse Poort, Leuven, 7 September-7 November 1993. Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts = Corpus van Verluchte Handschriften, 6 (Leuven: Peeters, 1993), pp. 4–12; and Sandra Hindman, The Robert Lehman Collection. IV : Illuminations (New York and Princeton, NJ: Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 1997), pp. 53–60.

57 See Frances Carey, Campbell Dodgson : Scholar and Collector , 1867–1948 (London: British Museum in association with the Parnassus Foundation, 1998).

58 Catalogue of Additions , vol. XXII, pp. 16–17.

59 For discussions of ‘Zodiac man’, see Harry Bober, ‘The Zodiacal Miniature of the Très Riches Heures of the Duke of Berry-Its Sources and Meaning’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 11 (1948), pp. 1–34; Linda E. Voigts and Michael R. McVaugh, ‘A Latin Technical Phlebotomy and Its Middle English Translation’, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 74:2 (1984), pp. 1–69.

60 In the sometimes quirky way in which the scribe writes Roman numerals, d with a superscript c denotes 500, not 600.

61 The drawing measures 62 mm high, and 23 mm wide at the elbows.

62 Rudy, Postcards on Parchment , pp. 103–04.

63 I discuss these images in ibid., pp. 87–91.

64 Baron von Geusau, ‘Korte Geschiedenis der Kloosters te Maastricht’, Publications de la Société Historique et Archéologique dans le Duché de Limbourg = Jaarboek van Limburgs Geschied- en Oudheidkundig Genootschap, XXXI, nouvelle série, tome XI (1894), pp. 3–131, esp. 5-6; Adam van Broeckhuysen, ‘Het klooster der Bijgaarden in de Witmakersstraat gelegen’, Publications de la Société Historique et Archéologique dans le Duché de Limbourg = Jaarboek van Limburgs Geschied- en Oudheidkundig Genootschap, XLII (1906), p. 38.

65 Ibid, esp. ‘De Begaarden’, pp. 41–43.

66 Quoted in Patricia Mainardi, ‘Assuring the Empire of the Future: The 1798 Fète de la Liberte’, Art Journal 48, no. 2 (1989), pp. 155–63 (p. 156).

67 See Martin Rosenberg, ‘Raphael’s Transfiguration and Napoleon’s Cultural Politics’, Eighteenth-Century Studies 19, no. 2 (1985), pp. 180–205. Most of these studies concentrate on the works taken from Italy, especially the Old Master paintings and sculptures from classical antiquity.

68 Gould, p. 13.

69 Theodor Oskar Weigel, Katalog frühester Erzeugnisse der Druckerkunst der T. O. Weigel’schen Sammlung : Zeugdrucke , Metallschnitte , Holzschnitte …Versteigerung 27. ( -29. ) Mai 1872 (Leipzig: Weigel, 1872).

70 Jos M. M. Hermans, ‘Elf Kisten Boeken uit het Gouvernementsgebouw te Maastricht: Lotgevallen van de Limburgse Handschriften en Oude Drukken, Gevonden in 1839’, in Miscellanea Neerlandica. Opstellen voor Dr. Jan Deschamps ter Gelegenheid van Zijn Zeventigste Verjaardag , ed. Elly Cockx-Indestege and Frans Hendrickx (Leuven: Peeters, 1987), pp. 105–43.

71 David S. Areford, The Viewer and the Printed Image in Late Medieval Europe. Visual Culture in Early Modernity (Farnham, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010), pp. 105–63.

72 Einblattdrucke des Fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts , ed. by Paul Heitz and Wilhelm Ludwig Schreiber, 98 vols (Straßburg: Paul Heitz, 1899–2016).

73 Zofia Ameisenowa. Einblattdrucke des Fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts in Polen : Holz- und Metallschnitte in den Bibliotheken zu Go ł uchów , Krakau , Lemberg , Lublin , P ł ozk , Thorn und Warschau . Einblattdrucke des Fünfzehnten Jahrhunderts (Strassburg: J.H. Ed. Heitz/Heidelberg: Universitätsbibliothek, 2016).

74 Henri Bouchot. Les Deux Cents Incunables Xylographiques du Département des Estampes: Origines de la Gravure sur Bois—Les Précurseurs—Les Papiers—Les Indulgences—Les ‘Grandes Pièces’ des Cabinets d’Europe—Catalogue Raisonné des Estampes sur Bois et sur Métal du Cabinet de Paris (Paris: Librairie centrale des beaux-arts, 1903).

75 Michèle Hébert, Bibliothèque Nationale, Cabinet des Estampes. Inventaire des Gravures des Écoles du Nord: 1440–1550, 2 vols. (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1982).

76 The article was a free, digital-born publication, which enabled a large and diverse audience of readers to find and download it. See Kathryn M. Rudy, ‘Dirty Books: Quantifying Patterns of Use in Medieval Manuscripts Using a Densitometer’, Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 2, no. 1 (2010).

77 The novel was never completed.

78 Some of the manuscripts ended up in Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, and some form the Rothschild Collection in the BnF in Paris. See L. M. J. Delaissé, James H. Marrow, and John de Wit, Illuminated Manuscripts (Fribourg: Published for the National Trust by Office du livre, 1977); Christopher de Hamel, The Rothschilds and Their Collections of Illuminated Manuscripts (London: The British Library, 2005).

79 In 2014, Séverine Lepape became the curator of the Edmond de Rothschild collection in the Department of Graphic Arts at the Louvre and is preparing a catalogue of the collection.

80 Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend : Readings on the Saints , trans, William Granger Ryan, 2 vols. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), vol. II, pp. 116–32.

81 For a description and discussion, see Weekes, Early Engravers and Their Public , pp. 294–301.

82 Séverine Lepape and Kathryn M. Rudy, Les Origines de l’Estampe en Europe du Nord , 1400–1470 , Musée du Louvre (Paris: Le Passage: Louvre éditions, 2013).

83 Lehrs, vol. IX, p. 353, nr. 447.