BIBLE, with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome and the Interpretation of Hebrew names, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, mid-13th century]
217 x 145mm. 565 leaves: 114(of 16, lacking iv and xiii), 2-616, 715(of 16, lacking vi), 8-3116, 3218(of 20, final 2 blanks cancelled), 33-3416, 3512, 3610(of 12, lacking xi and final blank cancelled), two of lacking leaves with illuminated initials, many catchwords survive towards inner edge of lower margin of final versos, traces of quire numbering in red at outer lower corner of final versos, two columns of 50 lines written in black ink in a small gothic bookhand between four verticals and 51 horizontals faintly ruled in plummet, justification 157 x 42-9-42mm, guide letters for all chapter numbers and a few rubrics survive in margins, rubrics in red, capitals touched red, versal initials in Psalms and letters of chapter numbers and running headings alternately red and blue, two- and three-line initials of red or blue with flourishing of both colours often extending the height of the page, SIXTY-EIGHT ILLUMINATED INITIALS with staves of blue or pink against a ground of the other colour and burnished gold, the infills and terminals with curling tendrils or dragons, some with bishop-heads, leaf terminals and details in green and orange, EIGHTY-ONE HISTORIATED INITIALS of the same colours (opening folio with a few wormholes in inner margin and rubbing and some pigment losses, initials on folios 379 and 380 smudged, slight cropping of extremities of flourishing in the lower margin of some folios, the terminals of a few illuminated initials and to a few running headings, discreet repair to lower margin of f.10 ). French 18th-century panelled red morocco gilt, gilt edges (some scuffing and small losses of surface, restoration of joints at head and foot of spine). Black morocco-backed box.
1. An early owner made numerous neat annotations in brown ink in the margins of Ezechiel, some of them so close to the gutter that it seems likely they were written when the manuscript was disbound.
2. The Earley family of Pennsylvania: the signature of one member of the family dated 1875 on the front endleaf, of Elizabeth Earley 1880 inside the upper cover and the impressed stamp 'G.R. Earley, Ridgway, Pennsylvania' on several leaves, including front endleaf, and ff.28 and 37.
3. Marguerite Smith: written in pencil in a 20th-century hand on front endleaf. Other pencil notes include shelfmarks 'Zion Ms 3' and dealers' codes and erased descriptions.
Vulgate Bible with the customary Prologues ff.1-511: lacking three leaves with Genesis, end of the second Prologue to Chapter iii (between f.3 and f.4) and Chapter 25 verse 17 to Chapter 27 verse 28 (between f.11 and f.12), and Ruth Chapter iii verse 15 to Prologue Kings (between f.100 and f.101); Interpretation of Hebrew names ff.512-565v ending 'Zareth' and lacking final page.
This handsome manuscript with its extensive series of lively and colourful initials well exemplifies the achievements of the book trade in Paris in the 13th century; it is easy to see why such Parisian Bibles were sought by patrons across Europe. The initials combine strong clear colour and areas of bright gold with a range of surface patterning and taut design: tendrils and dragons twist and turn, even the smallest figures are assertively drawn and the Biblical scenes are accompanied by a profusion of entertaining hybrids and grotesques -- the artist seemed to have a particular irreverence towards bishops whose mitred heads top the bodies of several dragons.
The style of these initials is that identified by Branner as belonging to the Johannes Grusch atelier around the middle of the century. It is particularly close to the illumination of a Missal for Paris use (Paris, BnF, Latin 9441) made shortly after 1247, which shares the same repertoire of decorative detail and form and scenes peopled by compact and active little figures: R. Branner, Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of St Louis (1977), pp.82-86, figs 213 & 229.
The historiated initials are: f.1 St Jerome (Prologue); f.22 God handing the tablets of the law to Moses (Exodus); f.38 Offering a sacrifice at the altar (Leviticus); f.49 Two Jews in discussion (Numbers); f.90 Moses talking to two men, one holding the Tablets of the Law above the Ark (Deuteronomy); f.79 God addressing Joshua (Joshua); f.89 Gideon as a soldier (Judges); f.99v Elimelech and Naomi migrating to Moab (Ruth); f.101 Executioner ready to behead the son of Heli and the theft of the Ark (Kings I); f.115v Beheading of Amalekite (Kings II); f.127 Attendant bringing Abishag before David (Kings III); f.140 Ahaziah falling from a tower (Kings IV); f.153 Two Jewish Patriarchs (Chronicles I); f.165 Solomon enthroned (Chronicles II); f.180 Cyrus standing before the Temple (Ezra I); f.184 Nehemiah presents the gold cup to Artaxerxes (Nehemiah); f.190 Asperging of an altar (Ezra II); f.196v Tobit lying harping (Tobit); f.200v Judith slaying Holofernes (Judith); f.206 Esther and Ahasuerus (Esther); f.212 Job on the dungheap mocked by his wife (Job); f.222v David harping (Psalms); f.226v Coronation of David (Psalm 26); f.229 David pointing to his eyes (Psalm 38); f.231v Fool, holding bat and bread (Psalm 52); f.234 God above; David in the water below (Psalm 68); f.237 David playing bells (Psalm 80); f.240 Singers (Psalm 97); f.243 God in Majesty (Psalm 109); f.249v Solomon enthroned, instructing a youth (Proverbs); f.258v Solomon enthroned, instructing a kneeling youth (Ecclesiastes); f.261v Virgin and Child (Song of Songs); f.263v Solomon enthroned and a man (Wisdom); f.269v Ecclesia holding a chalice (Ecclesiasticus); f.287 Sawing of Isaiah (Isaiah); f.307v Lapidation (Jeremiah); f.332v Jeremiah lamenting (Lamentations); f.333v Baruch writing (Baruch); f.337 Ezechiel in bed, with Tetramorph above (Ezechiel); f.359 Daniel in the lions' den (Daniel); f.368 Hosea and his wife Gomer (Hosea); f.371 Prophet (Joel); f.372v Prophet (Amos); f.375 Prophet addressed by God (Obadiah); f.376 Jonah in the mouth of a whale, Nineveh above (Jonah); f.376v Prophet (Micah); f.378v Prophet (Nahum); f.380 Prophet (Habakkuk); f.381 Prophet (Zephaniah); f.382 ?Cyrus before the temple (Haggai); f.383 Prophet (Zechariah); f.386v Prophet (Malachi); f.388 Beheading of the idolatrous Jew (Maccabees I); f.400v Delivery of the letter (Maccabees II); f.410 Ancestor of Christ (Matthew); f.423 Mark (Mark); f.431v Zacharias censing the altar (Luke); f.445v St John the Evangelist (John); f.456 St Paul addressing a man (Romans); f.461 St Paul holding a sword (Corinthians I); f.466 St Paul (Corinthians II); f.469v St Paul holding a sword (Galatians); f.471 St Paul (Ephesians); f.473 St Paul (Philippians); f.474 St Paul (Colossians); f.475 St Paul (Thessalonians I); f.476v St Paul holding a sword (Thessalonians II); f.477 St Paul holding a sword (Timothy I); f.478v St Paul with sword (Timothy II); f.479v St Paul with sword (Titus); f.480 St Paul with sword (Philemon); f.480 St Paul instructing a Jew (Hebrews); f.484 Virgin and St Peter and the ascending feet of Christ (Acts); f.498 St James (James); f.499v St Peter holding a key (Peter I); f.501 St Peter holding a martyr's palm (Peter II); f.501v St John holding a book (John I); f.503 St John holding a martyr's palm (John II); f.503v St John (John III); f.503v St Jude holding a book (Jude); f.504v St John writing (Revelations).
The illuminated initials are on folios 3v, 79, 153, 164v, 180, 196, 200v, 206, 211, 211v, 249, 258, 259, 263v, 269v 286v 307v, 333v (2), 335v, 336v, 358v, 367v (2), 370v, 371, 372 (2), 372v, 375 (3), 375v (2), 376v, 378, 379, 379v, 380v, 381v, 382v, 386, 387v (2), 388, 409v, 410, 423, 431 (2), 445v, 456, 461, 466, 469v, 471, 473, 474, 475, 476v, 477, 479, 480 (2), 484, 498, 504, 512.