BIBLE with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome and the Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
235 x 165 mm, 454 leaves: 1-420, 522, 6-1820, 19-2024, 2120, 2222, 232, COMPLETE, signature marks with a symbol and the letters a-k survive in the first half of several gatherings, modern pencil foliation 1-457 omitting the numbers 87, 233, 383 and 404, and repeating the number 350, followed here, two columns of 55 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between four verticals and 56 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 155 x 120mm, an additional pair of horizontals for running titles, guide letters for chapter numbers and initials survive at lower edge of many folios, rubrics in red, versal initials touched red, versal initials in the Psalter, letters of running headings and chapter numbers alternately of red or blue, two-line chapter initials alternately of red or blue with flourishing of the contrasting colour, SEVENTY-EIGHT HISTORIATED INITIALS with backgrounds of burnished gold and extended ascenders and descenders against patterned grounds of pink and blue and with terminals forming sprays into the margins opening Books of the Bible and SIXTY-SIX ILLUMINATED INITIALS opening Prologues (opening leaf darkened, stained, repaired in margin and initial rubbed, stains on ff.223 and 224 spreading through ff.215-248, slight dampstaining to edge of outer margin of first 50 leaves). Brown morocco gilt by Katherine Adams, panelled and bordered with triple fillets with a spray of acorns at each corner, the arms of C.H. St John Hornby in a wreath of acorns in the centre of the upper cover, spine gilt in six compartments with sprays of acorns around an initial H (very slight rubbing of extremities).
1. Although the Bible was written and illuminated in Paris, footnotes summarising the content of the column above survive, albeit cropped, at the edge of many lower margins; these are written in a less formal English hand of the later 13th-century. Other marginal annotations were added in a variety of medieval hands.
2. Whether or not the manuscript was in England by the 13th cenury it was certainly there by the 16th century; a note recording the grant of a farm, tenement and pasture by Philip Leman of Lincoln to John Bedall of Mendham in Suffolk occupies the lower margin of f. 253: 'Thys byll made the second daye of maye in the fyrst yere of Kynge Edward the Syxt' (1547).
3. Another two 16th-century notes in English appear in the margins of ff.255v and 256: 'In the nam of the Father of the Sone and of the Holie gost. Be it Amen. 1584' and 'William Gettline A man wthoute mercie of mercie shall misse'.
4. Charles Harry St John Hornby (1867-1946): bookplate 'From the Library of C.H. St John Hornby, Shelley House, Chelsea' inside upper cover, and his note recording his purchase of the manuscript in October 1911 from L. Olschki, Florence for add/-/- (£200), and the cost of Katharine Adams' binding of the book as y/-/- (£6). It appears in Katherine Adams' records for 1912.
Vulgate Bible with the customary Prologues ff.1-411; Prologues to the Song of Songs, the Psalter and Pauline Epistles in a different hand ff.411v-413v; Interpretation of Hebrew names ff.414-455v; Prologues and summaries of the Pauline Epistles, a continuation of the added Prologues written in the same hand ff.455v-157v
The added paragraphs entitled 'Prologus' or 'Argumentum' are not repetitions of the Prologues attributed to St Jerome but rather provide the context of the Biblical Book.
This Bible, with its polished and elegant initials, is a fine example of the achievements of the book-trade in Paris during the 13th century, and demonstrates the cause for Parisian Bibles being sought by patrons from across Europe. The illuminators of this particular manuscript worked with a selection of balanced, delicate shades set against highly burnished expanses of gold, and combined these decorative qualities with expressive and active figure groupings. The scenes within the initial often offer a novel, and sometimes, dramatic intepretation of a customary scene. In Kings II, for example, the beheading of Amalekite before King David (f.99), the response of each of the three characters is differentiated by facial expression and gesture: the executioner enthusiastically undertakes his task and secures the pleading Amalekite by gripping his hair and placing a leg over his back. The preliminary drawings for some of these initials are still visible in the margins beside them. Some are simple outlines, such as the figure-of-eight indicating the Tree of Jesse (f.331v, Matthew), or the four circles of Moses addressing the Israelites (f.55v, Deuteronomy), where Moses is only identified by two long downstrokes to show his horns. Others are more involved; the sketch beside Ahaziah falling from a tower (f.119v, Kings IV) depicts the crenellation, walls and gateway of the city as well as the tumbling king. The deviation of the final scene from the sketch suggests that, rather than being a preparatory drawing, it served either as an aide-memoire for the chief of the atelier sketched out when he was planning the illustration of the Bible, or as his generalised instruction, or reference to a model, for the illuminator who would carry out the work.
The style and technique of the illumination exemplify the qualities described by Branner as characteristic of his Aurifaber atelier: the limited marginal ornament focussing attention on the 'extremely accomplished' scenes within the initials and the predominance of pastel shades: R. Branner, Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of St Louis (1977), pp.109-113. One exceptional feature of this manuscript compared to the customary work grouped around the Aurifaber name is the lavish use of burnished gold. The manuscript must have been an exceptional and expensive commission.
The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows:
f.1 St Jerome (Prologue); f.3v Seven Days of Creation with Crucifixion (Genesis); f.19v Moses leading group of Jews (Exodus); f.33 Moses holding the Tablets of the Law before God (Leviticus); f.42v Moses holding Tablets of the Law, addressing God (Numbers); f.55v Moses addressing Israelites (Deuteronomy); f.68 God addressing Joshua (Joshua); f.76 God addressing Israelites (Judges); f.85 Elimelech migrating to Moab; Naomi and two children (Ruth); f.86v Anna praying before an altar (Kings I); f.99 Beheading of Amalekite before David (Kings II); f.119v Ahaziah falling from a tower (Kings IV); f.139v Solomon praying (Chronicles II); f.155 Nehemiah presenting a gold cup to Artaxerxes (Nehemiah); f.159 Priest asperging an altar (Ezra II); f.164 Tobit lying in bed (Tobias); f.167v Judith beheading Holofernes (Judith); f.172 King Ahasuerus showing clemency to Esther, with Haman hanging below (Esther); f.176v Job on the dunghill (Job); f.184v David harping (Psalms); f.187v Samuel annointing David (Psalm 26); f.189v David pointing to his mouth (Psalm 38); f.191v David in armour (Psalm 51); f.191v Fool, holding bat and bread (Psalm 52); f.193v God above, David in the water below (Psalm 68); f.196 David playing bells (Psalm 80); f.198 Two singers (Psalm 97); f.200 Trinity (Psalm 109); f.205 Solomon, holding a birch, instructing a youth (Proverbs); f.212 Solomon preaching (Ecclesiastes); f.214v Virgin and Child (Song of Songs); f.215v Solomon giving a sword to a soldier (Wisdom); f.221 Ecclesia holding a chalice (Ecclesiasticus); f.235 Isaiah addressing God, beside a burning cauldron (Isaiah); f.251 Jeremiah, beside boiling cauldron (Jeremiah); f.269 Jeremiah lamenting Jerusalem (Lamentations); f.271 Baruch writing (Baruch); f.273v Ezekiel in bed, with Tetramorph above (Ezekiel); f.291 Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel); f.298 Hosea and Gomer (Hosea); f.300v Joel preaching (Joel); f.301v Amos tending sheep (Amos); f.303v Seated Prophet teaching (Obadiah); f.304 Jonah in the mouth of a whale, with Nineveh above (Jonah); f.305 Micah standing before a city (Micah); f.306v Nahum lamenting the fall of Nineveh (Nahum); f.307v Habbakuk with stones held in cloth, addressed by angel (Habbakuk); f.308v God addressing seated prophet (Zephaniah); f.309 Rebuilding of the Temple, with seated prophet below (Haggai); f.312v Malachi and a man in discussion (Malachi); f.314 Beheading of the idolatrous Jew (Maccabees I); f.324 a messenger delivering a letter to a king (Maccabees II); f.331v Tree of Jesse (Matthew); f.348v St Luke asperging the altar (Luke); f.358 St John holding a scroll (John); f.366 St Paul seated, holding a cross and addressing two men (Romans); f.370 St Paul seated, holding a sword and book (Corinthians I); f.374 St Paul seated, holding a sword (Corinthians II); f.376v St Paul seated, holding a sword and book (Galatians); f.378 St Paul seated, holding a sword and scroll (Ephesians); f.379v St Paul seated, holding a sword (Philippians); f.380v St Paul seated, holding a sword (Colossians); f.381 St Paul seated, holding a sword and scroll (Thessalonians I); f.382 St Paul seated, holding a sword (Thessalonians II); f.382v St Paul seated, holding a sword and scroll (Timothy I); f.384v St Paul seated, holding a sword and book (Timothy II); f.385v St Paul seated, holding a sword (Titus); f.386 St Paul seated, holding a sword (Philemon); f.386 Three men in discussion (Hebrews); f.389 Ascension (Acts); f.400 Standing Prophet holding a scroll (Jacob); f.401 St Peter seated, holding a key (Peter I); f.402 St Peter seated, holding a key (Peter II); f.403 St John writing (John I); f.405 St John seated, holding a scroll and sword (John II); f.405 St John seated, holding a scroll (John III); f.405 St Jude (Jude); f.406 St John writing (Revelations)