Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017
Legendary, in the Latin hand of the scribe Cundpato , on parchment [Bavaria
Legendary, in the Latin hand of the scribe Cundpato , on parchment [Bavaria (Freising), first half of the ninth century]
Lower half of a leaf from the Cundpato Legendary, single column, 15 lines in the distinctive hand of the Freising scribe Cundpato (fl. first half of ninth century; identification by Bischoff), small splits to edges and a few holes, small area of paper adhered to leaf, all concomitant with reuse in later binding in the fifteenth century in the monastery of Eberhardsklausen, near Trier, overall excellent condition on thick and supple parchment, 205mm. by 155mm.; in modern cloth covered card binding
1. Written in the monastery of Freising, near Munich, by a scribe who names himself Cundpato in Greek and Runic characters in a manuscript of Isidore’s Etymologies (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm.6250; Bischoff, Die Südostdeutschen Schreibschulen , I, no.34, pp.98-99, pl. III.d). His hand also appears in a Gospel Book, now Kremsmünster, Stiftsbibl., Clm.2 (ibid . no.99, p.125). His name is notably rare, and he may have been, or at least was probably related to, the nobleman of the same name, son of Albrich, recorded in donations of estates to the community at Freising in 844 and 845. C.R. Bowlus has traced some of the members of a noble family using this name (Franks, Moravians and Magyars , 1995, pp. 80-81), and suggested that the head of this family held high office as one of five marcher lords in the south east of the early Carolingian empire (in Upper and Lower Austria, Carantania, and Upper and Lower Pannonia), with an imperial mandate to defend the new regime there. By the fifteenth century this Legendary had passed to Eberhardsklausen, near Trier, and was reused there in the late Middle Ages as binding material.
2. Stephan Beissel (1841-1915), and from him to Antiquariat Wöfle, Munich.
3. Bernhard Bischoff (1906-1991), and acquired directly by gift from Robert Wöfle, as payment for cataloguing the Stephan Beissel collection.
4. Bernard Rosenthal, purchased after Bischoff’s death, and thence to Quaritch.
5. The Schøyen collection, of Oslo and London, their MS. 1819; sold immediately after their sale in Sotheby’s, 10 July 2012, part of lot 27.
This leaf contains part of the Passion of St. Theodore of Amasea, a saint of such great antiquity that little can be established with any certainty beyond his death in 306. He seems to have been a recruit serving in the Roman army at Amasea (modern Amasya, northern Turkey), who refused to join fellow soldiers in pagan rites, and recieved a formal warning in punishment. This had little effect on his fervour, and he proceeded to burn the local temple of Cybele to the ground. For this he was condemned to death, and cast into a furnace. As a military saint he was later adopted by Crusaders as their patron saint, but otherwise remained unpopular in Western Europe outside of Rome (where there are sixth-century frescoes in the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian, and a church perhaps dedicated to him from the seventh century onwards) and Venice (who received statuary pieces representing him among other Crusade plunder, brought back from Constantinople and remaining today in St. Mark’s Square).
Cundpato’s work has drawn attention since Bishoff’s identification of him (in some substantial part from this very manuscript). He was evidently something of a virtuoso as a scribe, and certainly confidant enough of his abilities to attempt his own signature in Greek and Runic characters in Clm.6250. He was well versed in the new Carolingian minuscule and its simplified and graceful forms designed to ease and increase speed of reading, but still managed to retain some aspects of individuality within that model that add to the beauty of the script rather than detract from it. His et-ligature is used integrally within words, and there is great regularity and order to his script established in part by his use of rigidly straight ascenders set at 90 degrees to the written line. That said, there is an angularity to his penwork which is entirely his, and a barely visible tremor in his execution of some descenders which forces us to remember that a human is holding the pen. As an apparent flair, his ct-ligature usually does away entirely with any vestige of the separate forms of the two letters, having the bow of the ‘c’ flow upwards and diagonally away from its base and descend directly into the body of the ‘t’.
Bischoff traced a number of further leaves: (i) Frankfurt, fragm.lat. I27; (ii) Koblenz, Landeshauptarchiv, Best 701 Nr.759,54; (iii-vi) Trier, Stadtbibl., fragm. und Leimabdr. 55/1000 4o, 183/1099 8o, 190/1246 8o, and 1881/1508 8o; and (vii) Weimar, Thüringisches Staatsarchiv, Hardenburg sammlung 5 (Bischoff, Katalog der festländischen Handschriften , 1998, I, p.268, no.1267), and to these should be added one once owned by Kraus, which last emerged on the market in Sotheby’s, 5 July 2011, lot 28, realising £28,750, and now Beinecke MS 1151. Thus, this is not only Bischoff’s own example of Cundpato’s hand, but is the last recorded one in private ownership.
S. Krämer, Aevum, Rassegna de Scienze storiche linguistiche e filologie , 81, 2007, p.627.
B. Bischoff, Katalog der festländischen Handschriften des neunten Jahrhunderts: Laon-Paderborn , 2004, p. 72.
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