BIBLE with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome and the Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[northern France, 1220s]
242 x 163mm. 395 leaves: 116(i now mounted on a guard), 2-1116, 1218, 13-2216, 2312, 2410, 254, 2612, 273(of 4, final blank cancelled, iii now mounted on a guard), COMPLETE, two columns of 52 lines written in black ink in a small gothic bookhand on 52 horizontals and bounded by pairs of verticals ruled in plummet, justification: 162 x 103mm, additional paired rulings in upper, lower and outer margins, rubrics in red, versal initials in the Book of Job touched red, versal initials in Psalms and letters of running headings and chapter numbers alternately of red and blue, two- to six-line initials alternately of red or blue with flourishing of the contrasting colour, FORTY-EIGHT ILLUMINATED INITIALS with staves of dark pink or blue with white decoration on grounds of burnished gold and the contrasting colour, or of burnished gold on divided grounds of pink and blue, some infills with tendrils with foliate or animal-head terminals in orange-red, EIGHTY-TWO HISTORIATED INITIALS, most with extensions with scrolling foliate terminals or dragons, some the height of the text, including large Genesis and Tree of Jesse initials, sewing holes to one side from protective silk curtains, three surviving, ff.375v-380 in a 14th-century gothic bookhand with three-line puzzle initials of blue and burnished gold flourished with red or blue (repaired tear in lower corner of first folio into 11 lines of one column of text, many running titles cropped, two wormholes to first few leaves, small loss in margin of f.3 and slight smudging of initial, small marginal tears to very few leaves). Old blue velvet (restored by Douglas Cockerell), armorial blue cloth box gilt.
A FINE AND EARLY SINGLE-VOLUME BIBLE WITH A DISTINGUISHED PROVENANCE
1. This has all the characteristic organisation and sequence of a 13th-century 'Paris Bible' and several features point to its having been produced at an early stage in the evolution of the single-volume Vulgate: the position of the chapter numbers in margins, the deviation from the series of Prologues that became standard from around 1230, and the relatively large format of the volume compared to those produced in the second half of the century. An early date is confirmed by the fact that the text is written above-top-line. It is an excellent example of the type of Bible that the early Paris book trade was supplying to 'canons, bishops, cardinals and other men of substance' in the first third of the 13th century: C. de Hamel The Book. A History of the Bible, 2001, p.130.
2. Ste Trinité, monastery of the Celestines at Limay near Mantes: erased inscription on final verso and cancelled inscription on opening folio '..iste liber est celestinorum prope meduntam - die signa....'. The monastery was founded in 1376 by Charles V of France and continued to attract patronage from the king and court. It was consequently richly endowed and the apparent shelfmark '593' may well relate to this ownership. Limay's was one of the libraries catalogued by Père Daire (d.1792) (BnF, fr.15290).
3. Sir John Hayford Thorold, 10th Baronet (d.1831) of Syston Park, Grantham, Lincolnshire: the Syston Park armorial bookplate and his monogram JHT label inside upper cover. A portion of the library put together by Sir John Thorold, 9th Baronet (d.1815) and his son Sir John Hayford Thorold was sold by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge on 12 December 1884. The sale took place over eight days and was remarkable for the high prices achieved for the most splendid books.
4. Sotheby's 12 July 1939, lot 11.
5. Lord Kennet of the Dene (1879-1960): his armorial bookplate on front endleaf. As well as Lord Kennet's notes researching the manuscript and its provenance, the box contains a sheet of Sir Sydney Cockerell's letterhead with a copy of Seymour de Ricci's account of the Syston Park sale written in Cockerell's hand and dated 9 Feb 1940. Cockerell encouraged and advised Lord Kennet on his manuscript acquisitions. The binding was restored by Douglas Cockerell and Son in 1949 and 'Notes by Binder' are included in the box.
Vulgate Bible with prologues ff.1-375v; Prologues ff.375v-380; Interpretation of Hebrew names ff.381-395v.
From around 1230 the Prologues supplied to introduce individual Books of the Bible were standardised, and by 1250 this had become a series of 64. It is a sign of the relatively early date of this manuscript that only 41 of these were originally provided, along with six that did not become customary inclusions. Two for Maccabees were tagged onto the end of the Apocalypse. In the 14th century the 23 Prologues that were missing from what had become the standard series (and one that was not) were added on three blank pages following the Apocalypse and on a binion inserted before the Interpretation of Hebrew Names.
The extensive sequence of illuminated and historiated initials is predominantly the work of an artist with a taste for lively narrative. His characters gesture emphatically or are engaged in violent action in scenes set against highly burnished gold grounds. Drapery folds are often shaded with a darker pigment -- particularly a purplish red on blue or bright red on bare parchment -- and garments are often patterned with little groups of three dots. Although conforming in general to the figure style of Branner's Vienna Moralised Bible atelier, the decorative motifs and iconography cannot be precisely matched with any of the familiar Parisian workshops: it may be that the manuscript was illuminated outside the capital. The style is, however, found in a manuscript in New York (Pierpont Morgan Library, M.163), a Bible dated 1229 by the scribe 'Brito'. The distinctive red-on-parchment drapery is found in several of the Morgan manuscript's initials, and the subject-matter and treatment is often based on a common model, for example the sequence of initials for the Pauline Epistles including Saul's dramatic headlong fall from his horse: Luba Eleen, The Illustration of the Pauline Epistles in French and English Bibles of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, 1982, figs 128-33.
The Morgan Library Bible, however, has fewer historiated initials executed with less finesse and control: the fact that it is written below-top-line shows it to be later in date than the present manuscript.
The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows:
f.1 St Jerome (Prologue); f.3v Seven Days of Creation (Genesis); f.19v Moses receiving Tablets of the Law from God (Exodus); f.33 Offering of a sacrifice at an altar (Leviticus); f.42v God commanding Moses (Numbers); f.55 Moses handing Tablets of the Law to Joshua (Deuteronomy); f.66 Gideon holding a sword, beside soldier (Joshua); f.73v Man beheading a naked man lying on a bed (Judges I); f.81 Ruth standing beneath a tabernacle (Ruth); f.83 Death of Hophni and Phinehas, sons of Heli (Kings I); f.93 Beheading of Amalekite before David (Kings II); f.102 Attendant bringing Abishag before David (Kings III); f.112 Ahaziah in his sickbed dispatching a messenger (Kings IV); f.122 Four Jewish Patriarchs (Chronicles I); f.130 Solomon enthroned holding sceptre and sword (Chronicles II); f.142 unfinished initial (Ezra I); f.145 Artaxerxes addressing Nehemiah (Nehemiah); f.149v Asperging of the altar (Ezra II); f.154 Tobit lying asleep in bed with swallow above (Tobit); f.157 Judith beheading Holofernes whilst he lies in bed (Judith); f.161 Ahasuerus showing clemency to Esther, with Haman hanging below (Esther); f.165v Job on the dunghill (Job); f.174 David harping above, David killing Goliath below (Psalms); f.177v Samuel annointing David (Psalm 26); f.179v Warrior in full armour (Psalm 38); f.181v David addressing the Devil (Psalm 51) ; f.181v the Fool pointing to his eye (Psalm 52); f.183v God above, David in the water below (Psalm 68); f.186 David playing the bells (Psalm 80); f.188 Two clerics at a lectern (Psalm 97); f.190 Trinity (Psalm 109); f.195 Solomon seated, holding rod, with Rehoboam seated before him with a book (Proverbs); f.201 Solomon seated before prostrate man, with man holding a sceptre (Ecclesiastes); f.203 Virgin and Child (Song of Songs); f.204 Solomon receiving a sword from a man (Wisdom); f.208v Solomon enthroned holding a sceptre, a man standing before him pointing to God above (Ecclesiasticus); f.221v Sawing of Isaiah (Isaiah); f.237 Jeremiah being stoned by two men (Jeremiah); f.253v lifting of the garment of sorrow and affliction (Baruch); f.255v Jeremiah lamenting before Jerusalem (Lamentations); f.257 Ezechiel in bed, with Tetramorph above (Ezechiel); f.271v Daniel and the lions (Daniel); f.277v Ass playing a harp (Prologue to Hosea); f.278 Hosea taking Gomer as his wife (Hosea); f.280 Joel preaching the work of the Lord to kneeling people (Joel); f.280v Amos prophesying the punishment of fire against the walls of palaces (Amos); f.282v Obadiah distributing bread (Obadiah); f.282v Jonah emerging from the whale (Jonah); f.283 Micah leading the daughters of Zion (Micah); f.284v Nahum prophesying God's vengeance on Ninevah in the form of a sword descending from heaven (Nahum); f.285 a swaddled child in a manger with the ox and ass behind (Habakkuk); f.285v King slaughtering a child on an altar (Zephaniah); f.286 Prophet standing beneath tabernacle (Zachariah); f.289 two men (Malachi); f.289v Beheading of the idolatrous Jew (Maccabees I); f.298v Messenger delivering a letter to two Jews (Maccabees II); f.305v Tree of Jesse (Matthew); f.314v Mark writing, with lion's head holding a scroll above (Prologue to Mark); f.320v Luke writing, with ox's head holding a scroll above (Luke); f.330 John writing, with head of an eagle above (John); f.337v Stoning of St Stephen (Romans); f.341 Saul receiving the letters to Damascus (Corinthians I); f.344v Saul falling from his horse (Corinthians II); f.346v the blinded Saul being led to a gate (Galatians); f.348 Saul asleep, Ananias standing over him (Ephesians); f.349 Saul in a font being baptised by Ananias (Philippians); f.350 Paul offering the Cross to a ruler (Colossians); f.350v the beating of Paul (Thessalonians I); f.351v Paul being lowered in his basket (Thessalonians II); f.352 Paul falling into the sea from shipwrecked boat (Timothy I); f.353v Paul and his companion in discussion with a King (Titus); f.354 Paul blindfolded and praying, about to be beheaded (Philemon); f.354 Paul handing a blood-soaked cloth to a woman (Hebrews); f.357 the Creation of Eve (Acts of the Apostles); f.366 James holding a book (James); f.367 Peter, seated, holding a key and book (Peter I); f.368 Peter and Paul in half-length, each with book and preaching (Peter II); f.368v John instructing from book (John I); f.369v John holding book (John II); f.370 John conversing with Gaius (John III); f.370 Jude holding open book, beneath tabernacle (Jude); f.370v John enthroned, writing on a scroll (Apocalypse)