VULGATE BIBLE; illuminated thirteenth-century manuscript on parchment with historiated initials similar to work by the Johannes Grusch workshop (active in Paris, c. 1225-1275)
by Catholic Church
A LUXURIOUS EXAMPLE OF A THIRTEENTH-CENTURY POCKET BIBLE ILLUMINATED IN PARIS. Illuminated manuscript on parchment in Latin, France (Paris?), c. 1250-1275. 160 x 110 mm. 535 folios, missing six leaves, else complete, though now bound out of order, written under top line in several similar, very tiny, precise gothic bookhands in two columns of 45 lines (justification 102 x 75 mm.), capitals touched in red, red and blue running titles and chapter numbers, 2-line initials alternating in red or blue with contrasting red or blue pen decoration often running the full length of the column, each prologue begins with a painted rinceaux initial, each biblical book begins with one of SEVENTY-EIGHT HISTORIATED INITIALS. BINDING: Seventeenth-century brown leather, gold-tooled, over pasteboard, spine with four raised bands, speckled edges, rebacked with spine laid down. TEXT: Thirteenth-century pocket Bibles were one of the great achievements of thirteenth-century book-making. In northern France in the early thirteenth century the organization and text of Vulgate Bibles underwent a series of radical changes, resulting c. 1230 in the text known as the Paris Bible, in which, among other things, the Bible's books were re-ordered and divided into standardized chapters. This Bible includes all the hallmarks of the Paris Bible, though it lacks some of the distinctive readings found there, perhaps an indication that it was copied outside of Paris or from an older exemplar. ILLUSTRATION: This is a luxurious book, with tiny painted initials before all the prologues and biblical books, executed with exquisite workmanship that sets this book far apart from many of the more everyday examples of pocket Bibles, and it is a very fine example of a manuscript illuminated by a professional artist working in Paris. The 141 initials painted in this volume are a wonderful expression of the Parisian aesthetic and stylistically similar to the later work of the Johannes Grusch workshop. Each book of the Bible begins with an historiated initial, and figures are skillfully painted, with attention to facial expression and varied poses. Their faces, drawn long with sharp noses and small mouths, are all rather youthful looking, as in other works of the Grusch atelier. PROVENANCE: While it is possible that this was copied outside of Paris (see above), it was certainly decorated in Paris, c. 1250-1275. The manuscript shows many signs of early use and bears an owner's signature from the sixteenth century. More recently, it was part of a private European collection. CONDITION: Trimmed slightly with occasional minor loss of the very bottom of pen decoration, indentations and some cockling in the outer margins of some folios, but overall in excellent condition. Full description and photographs available. TM 921
(Inventory #: 76148)
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