BIBLE with Prologues and the Interpretation of Hebrew Names, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[northern Italy, third quarter of 13th century]
160 x 115mm. iii + 479 + ii leaves, a later inserted leaf or bifolium missing at the end, ELSE COMPLETE: i24, ii-viii20, ix6, x-xvi20, xvii22, xviii-xxiii20, xxiv5 (of 6, vi cancelled blank), xxv6, xxvi16, signatures .I.-.XXII. omitting the contemporary inserted short gathering after .VIII. and the final three gatherings of added texts, not foliated, ruled in plummet in two columns with 45 horizontals, the first three, middle three and last three ruled the full width of the page, and seven verticals ruled the full height of the page, written in a minute gothic script, below top line, usually in dark brown ink, but varying (e.g. most of Ruth in much paler ink), rubrics in red, capitals stroked in red, ONE ILLUMINATED INITIAL at the beginning of Genesis almost the full height of the text, with red and blue penwork borders in the other three margins, a smaller initial at the beginning of the first prologue, large painted foliate initials opening books and divisions of Psalms, prologues with 'puzzle' initials in red and blue with flourishing of both colours (the first and last leaves stained and with repaired margins, cropping affecting the running-titles, occasional tears and repairs and a few extremities of leaves missing, not affecting the text). Dark red 17th?-century morocco, the boards with a large oval heraldic centrepiece, perhaps early 18th century, edges gilt (both straps missing, joints repaired, endpapers renewed).
The style of script and decoration suggests an Italian origin; the readings added at the end are evidence of a mendicant owner, and the abbreviation of Psalms 109-150 indicates someone who knows the Psalms by heart; medieval marginal notes include a quotation from Book I of Aristotle's Politics (in Ecclesiasticus), and a note listing Seven Resurrections (in Luke 7) -- the latter has the spelling 'Laxari' suggesting Venetian dialect; spine with monograms of the initials E, O, M, and L; ownership inscription in Polish of the Congregation of St Ambrose, Warsaw, dated 6 October 1714, initialled 'KSAR' (flyleaf), a second inscription dates the volume to 1389; Polish(?) arms on both covers.
Bible with Prologues ff.1-432; Interpretation of Hebrew Names ff.433-52; list of readings for Sundays of the Temporale, Sanctorale, and Common, including Peter Martyr (d.1252) ff.453-57; Concordance of the Bible, arranged under headings suitable for sermons such as 'De pereginatione' and 'De fornicatione', including numerous headings for the Vices ff.458-74v; lists of readings relevant to feast days, followed by two Pythagorean(?) diagrams ff.474v-76; lists of biblical persons, rulers, towns, measurements, etc., ending with a reference to Hugh of St-Victor (d.1141), followed by notes on the four Gospels and their Greek commentators from Cyprian to John Chrysostom ff.476v-78v; a further list of readings for the Sundays from Advent to the feast of St Paul, thus likely lacking a final leaf, f.479r-v.
Although this attractive Bible is generally similar to typical French 13th-century Bibles, the palette is more subdued, with distinctive ochres and greens, and decorative motifs more akin to a northern Italian, possibly Venetian, school of illumination.