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Detailed record for Harley 4979

Title Roman d'Alexandre , in prose, with lacunae
Origin Netherlands, S.
Date 1st quarter of the 14th century
Language French
Script Gothic
Decoration 2 full-page miniatures in colours and gold (ff. 4v, 70v). 43 column miniatures in colours and gold, approx. 5 x 120/130 (ff. 12v, 17, 17v, 20, 22, 23v, 24, 25v, 26, 27v, 36v, 39v, 44, 47, 51, 54v, 56v, 60 (x 2), 61, 62v, 63v, 65, 66, 67v (x 2), 68, 69v, 71v, 72, 72v (x 2), 73, 73v, 74 (x 2), 74v, 75, 78, 78v, 82v, 84, 84v)). 35 column miniatures in colours and gold, approx. 5 x 7 mm (ff. 6, 6v, 9v, 11, 13v, 14, 14v, 15, 17v, 18v, 22v, 27v, 28, 28v, 30, 30v, 32, 32v, 35, 40 (x 2), 44v, 46, 49, 53v, 59, 59v, 69, 70, 75v, 76, 77, 79v, 86 (x 2). Three-sided border in colours and gold with foliate motifs, a large illuminated initial, and a hound and a hare in the bas-de-page (f. 1). Three-sided border in colours and gold with foliate motifs, a large historiated initial, and monkeys in the bas-de-page (f. 5). Champ initials. Rubrics in red. Capitals marked in red.
Dimensions in mm 250 x 170 (170 x 125) in two columns
Official foliation ff. 87 (+ 3 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and at the end)
Form Parchment codex
Binding BM/BL in-house; marbled endpapers.
Provenance Richard Catelyn (b. c. 1490, d. 1556), alderman of Norwich and sheriff in 1531: inscribed with his name (f. 86v).
Edmund Lomner of Mannington, county Norfolk, either the Edmond Lumner al. Lomner of Mannington, co. Norfolk (d. 1558), or his son of the same name: inscribed with his name (f. 87).
Inscriptions mentioning various names including, 'John de Geneth francoy de Tornay, Johannis Derne Engl. de Noryc, Johannes allemein de Yarm.... Johannes of... Storwice mercer, Robert Hendry demorant En Franche en la villle de Rouen, John de Geneth Bourgenon demerant en lotel de mr. Catelyn, John Setmson gentylman' (ff. 86v, 87, 87v) (See Stones, 1982, p. 210).
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts.
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d. 1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes We thank François Avril for the localisation of this manuscript.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), III (1808), no. 4979.

Walter de Gray Birch and Henry Jenner, Early Drawings and Illuminations: An Introduction to the Study of Illustrated Manuscripts (London: Bagster and Sons, 1879), p. 9.

H. L. D. Ward and J. A. Herbert, Catalogue of Romances in the Department of Manuscripts in the British Museum, 3 vols (London: British Museum, 1883-1910), I, pp. 127-28.

David J. A. Ross, 'Some Notes on the Old French Alexander Romance in Prose', French Studies, 6 (1952), 135-47 (as 'H').

David J. A. Ross, 'Nectanebus in his Palace: A Problem of Alexander Iconography', Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 15 (1952), pp. 67-87 (pp. 71-75, 87, pl. a).

David J. A. Ross, Alexander Historiatus, A Guide to Mediaeval Illustrated Alexander Literature, Warburg Institute Surveys, I (London Warburg Institute, 1963) (as 'H').

David J. A. Ross, Illustrated Medieval Alexander-Books in Germany and the Netherlands: A Study in Comparative Iconography, Publications of the Modern Humanities Research Association, 3 (Cambridge: Modern Humanities Research Association, 1971) (as 'H').

Cyril Ernest Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 98, 226.

Alison Stones, 'Notes on Three Illuminated Alexander Manuscripts', in The Medieval Alexander Legend and Romance Epic: Essays in Honour of David J.A. Ross ed. by Peter Noble, Lucie Polak and Claire Isoz (Millwood, New York: Kraus International, 1982), pp. 193-241 (as 'H').

Andreas Bräm, 'Buchmalerei des 13. und 14. Jahrhunderts in Frankreich, Flandern, Hennegau, Maasland und Lothringen: Literaturbericht 1970-1992, Teil II', Kunstchronik, 47 (1994), 73-96 (p. 75).

Jos A. A. M. Biemens, Onsen Speghele Ystoriaele in Vlaemsche: Codicologisch onderzoek naar de overlevering van de Spiegel Historiael van Jacob van Maerlant, Philip Utenbroeke en Lodewijk van Velthem met een beschrijving van de handschriften en fragmenten, 2 vols ( Louvain: Peters, 1997), I, pp. 199 n. 76, 200 n. 77.

Alixe Bovey, Monsters and Grotesques in Medieval Manuscripts (London: British Library, 2002), pp. 16, 18, pl. 12.

David J. A. Ross and M. A. Stones, 'The Roman d'Alexandre in French Prose: Another illustrated manuscript from Champagne or Flanders c. 1300', Scriptorium: Revue internationale des études relatives aux manuscrits, 56 (2002), 345-56 (as ‘H’).

Maud Pérez-Simon, 'Beyond the Template: Aesthetics and Meaning in the Images of the Roman d'Alexandre en prose in Harley MS. 4979', Electronic British Library Journal (2011), article 3 http://www.bl.uk/eblj/2011articles/article3.html.


Images
* * *
 
Garden, a river, and mills

f. 4v
Garden, a river, and mills
Nextanebo

f. 6v
Nextanebo
Couple in bed

f. 11
Couple in bed
 
King Philip and Alexander

f. 14v
King Philip and Alexander
Battle

f. 17
Battle
Coronation of Alexander and Wedding of King Philip and Cleopatra

f. 17v
Coronation of Alexander and Wedding of King Philip and Cleopatra
 
Wedding of King Philip and Cleopatra

f. 17v
Wedding of King Philip and Cleopatra
Battle

f. 20
Battle
Battle

f. 22
Battle
 
Arrival in Jerusalem

f. 27v
Arrival in Jerusalem
Ram fighting a he-goat

f. 27v
Ram fighting a he-goat
Alexander giving gold to a priest

f. 28
Alexander giving gold to a priest
 
Alexander receiving gifts

f. 28v
Alexander receiving gifts
The hanging of the murderers of Darius

f. 46
The hanging of the murderers of Darius
People of Gog and Magog

f. 47
People of Gog and Magog
 
Naked cave-dwelling Oxydraces

f. 56v
Naked cave-dwelling Oxydraces
Giant being burnt to death

f. 60
Giant being burnt to death
Sun and Moon trees

f. 61
Sun and Moon trees
 
Battles against monsters

f. 67v
Battles against monsters
Alexander battling the Mardi and Subagrae

f. 69
Alexander battling the Mardi and Subagrae
Builders constructing a cage for Alexander

f. 70
Builders constructing a cage for Alexander
 
Griffons bearing Alexander aloft

f. 70v
Griffons bearing Alexander aloft
Alexander battling horse-headed men

f. 72
Alexander battling horse-headed men
Cyclopes and blemmyae

f. 72v
Cyclopes and blemmyae
 
Elephants

f. 74
Elephants
Queen Olympias and Aristotle

f. 75v
Queen Olympias and Aristotle
Alexander on his death-bed

f. 79v
Alexander on his death-bed
 
Defeat of King Perdicas

f. 84
Defeat of King Perdicas
Death of Olympias

f. 86
Death of Olympias

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