Nashotah House Theological Seminary is located approximately thirty miles west of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Founded in 1842, Nashotah House remains the oldest continuously operating academic institution in the state.
The seminary’s Frances Donaldson Library houses primarily theological texts as well as several named collections including the Walter S. Underwood Prayer Book Collection. The Underwood Collection features a number of books related to the development of Protestantism in the British Isles.
BOOK OF HOURS SARUM USE MANUSCRIPT C. 1400
This Sarum Book of Hours (Sarum Use), circa 1400, arrived at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in 1977 as a gift of the late Mr. Walter S. Underwood of Chicago, Illinois (1884-1976) and is the oldest volume in the Underwood Prayer Book Collection. Mr. Underwood had been a senior partner in the Chicago law firm of McLease, Spray, Price & Underwood; Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago; and a liturgical book collector.
Purchased in 1952 from Brentanoʼs Chicago bookstore by Mr. Underwood, the manuscript has appeared in two exhibitions: “Turn the Pages Slowly: Rare Books and Manuscripts,” (Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, 2008) and “Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections” (the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, December 18, 2010- February 27, 2011).
The Book of Hours (Sarum Use), stored in the humidity-controlled Rare Books Room in Frances Donaldson Library, contains 23 full-page miniatures and 23 historiated initials. Each full-page illumination is painted on the verso of a leaf with a blank recto. Of particular note is the pictorial prayer cycle to the five wounds of Christ. Both Netherlandish and English-style illustrations appear in folio margins. The pages are unnumbered and the majority of text is in Latin, with additions in vernacular English.
Books of hours, popular among devout Christian laity in the Middle Ages, contained prayers and psalms to be recited at the canonical hours of the day. Generally devoted to the Virgin Mary and replete with decorative initials and hand-painted illustrations of Christʼs Passion, many of these illuminated manuscripts were produced in Europeʼs Low Countries and available by export to the faithful living in the British Isles.
BOIES PENROSE II DECORATED MANUSCRIPT MANUSCRIPT (1490-1520)
Named after former Pennsylvania collector of books and photographs Boies Penrose II (1902-1976), the Boies Penrose II Decorated Manuscript (1490-1520) is one of approximately 50 rare volumes in the Underwood Prayer Book Collection at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Waukesha County, Wisconsin.
Nashotah House benefactor Walter S. Underwood (1884-1976) had been a senior partner in the Chicago law firm of McLease Spray, Price & Underwood; Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago; and a liturgical book collector.
Ornamented throughout, the manuscript is formed of 310 leaves on vellum with Latin text and contains two bookplates. The volume was included in the museum exhibition: “Hidden Treasures: Illuminated Manuscripts from Midwestern Collections” (the Chazen Museum of Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, December 18, 2010-February 27, 2011).
Mr. Penrose identified the contents of his library by affixing his personal bookplate to the objects. According to Wainwright, Penrose built the majority of his collection during the global economic depression of the 1930s and about half his library was sold by auction in 1971 through Sothebyʼs of London, UK.
The Decorated Manuscript also includes the bookplate of Thomas Phillips of Ickford in the County of Bucks, Gent.