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Lot 0002
Palladius (Rutilius Taurus) Opus agriculturae, manuscript on vellum, II + 111 + I leaves (text complete, although manuscript resewn with result that it is impossible to give its original quiring), early inked foliation to upper margin, faded or trimmed at time of rebinding, modern pencilled foliation written every ten leaves in outer upper margin, text block: 120/125 x 80mm., single column, 24-25 lines, text written in brown ink, in a single minuscule chancery hand throughout, rubricated in red, the first capital letter of each chapter set out, a generally well preserved manuscript, browning, staining, and spotting in places owing to different quality of vellum used or recycled (some leaves are palimpsest), some flaws to vellum, a few organic holes, around which the scribe has written text, marginal notes and glosses in two early hands, the earliest in reddish brown ink, vellum pastedowns and endpapers, 19th-century russia, covers within frame of blind and gilt fillets, central gilt arms of Pelham-Clinton family, spine with four raised bands, title and 'MS' lettered in gilt, gilt turn-ins, green silk bookmark, 8vo (156 x 113mm.), Italy (?Tuscany), [early 15th century].

⁂ inc. Palladij Rutilij Tauri Emiliani viri Inl[ustris] opus agriculturae incipit feliciter. Titulus libri primi. [text inc. De praeceptis rei rusticae. Pars est prima prudenciae, ipsam cui praeceptur[us] es extimar[e] ...].

expl. Palladij Rutilij Tauri Emiliani viri Inl[ustris] opus Agriculture explicit feliciter.

A fine manuscript, from the celebrated library of the Dukes of Newcastle in Clumber, of this important 4th-century Roman treatise on agriculture, which enjoyed a wide popularity in the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, owing to its clear arrangement, with the farming and gardening tasks subdivided according to the twelve months of the year. Palladius relied mainly on Columella's De re rustica, but seems however to have had personal experience of farming, mentioning his own farmlands in Italy and Sardinia.

The Opus agriculturae (On Agriculture) was originally composed by an introduction and twelve books corresponding to the months of the year; Palladius later added a fourteenth and fifteenth book, entitled De veterinaria medicina (On Veterinary Medicine) and Carmen de insitione (On Fruit Trees) respectively, which generally had a separate manuscript circulation. The work was first printed in Venice in 1472, in the collection dedicated by Nicolas Jenson to the Roman authorities on agriculture (see lot 5).

Palladius' manuscript tradition is extremely complex, with the text of the Opus agriculturae represented by over one hundred manuscripts, from the 8th to the 16th century. The earliest surviving manuscripts extant contain, as here, Books 1-13, and derive from one lost copy which was probably produced in north-eastern France in the 8th century. The hand-writing suggests an Italian origin for the Rothamsted Latin Palladius, but it has not been possible to identify with certainty the area of its production, although north or central Italy, possibly Tuscany, would appear most likely.
If both the place of production of the manuscript and the marginal glosses which supplement the text deserve further research, the importance of its provenance is by contrast, unquestionable. As the arms stamped in gilt on the binding show, it was once preserved in one of the most refined English libraries, that assembled in Clumber by the Pelham-Clinton family, Dukes of Newcastle under Lyne, and mostly formed by the fourth Duke of Newcastle (1784-1851). The book collection was sold at four Sotheby's sales between 1937 and 1938, offering a fine group of manuscripts, including the famous Hours of Isabel of Brittany, also known as the Lamoignon Hours. The preface to the sale catalogue states, "The books and manuscripts from Clumber [are] the most important to appear at auction in this country since the Holford sales nearly ten years ago".

No other Palladius manuscript has appeared on the market in the last fifty years.

Provenance: from the library of the Pelham-Clinton family, Dukes of Newcastle under Lyne (armorial binding; see Sotheby's sale The Magnificent Library the Property of the Late Seventh Duke of Newcastle Removed from Clumber, Worksop and Sold by Order of the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Lincoln, London 1937).
Rothamsted acquisition date 1937.

Literature: N.R. Ker, Medieval Manuscripts in British libraries. V. Indexes and Addenda, edited by I.C. Cunningham and A.G. Watson, Oxford, 2002, p. 13; J. Svennung, Untersuchungen zu Palladius and zur lateinischen Fach- und Volkssprache, Uppsala 1935, esp. pp. 619-629; Palladius, Opus agriculturae. De veterinaria medicina. De insitione. Edidit R.H. Rodgers, Leipzig, B. G. Teubner, 1975; R.H. Rodgers, "Palladius", in Catalogus Translationum Commentariorum III, pp. 195-199.

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Palladius (Rutilius Taurus) Opus agriculturae,

Estimate £10,000 - £15,000
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Auction Curated By:
Rupert Powell
International Head of Books and Works on Paper
Justin Phillips
Early and Continental Printing
220 Queenstown Road
London, SW8 4LP
United Kingdom
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