NEW TESTAMENT, with the Prologues attributed to St Jerome, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Northern Netherlands, IJssel region, c.1435]
277 x 190mm. 176 leaves: 1-228, COMPLETE, catchwords at lower inner margin of final versos of most gatherings, signature marks on outer lower corner of rectos of first half of gatherings, guide-letters for rubrics, often cropped, at lower edges, two columns of 38 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between four verticals and 39 horizontals ruled in brown, the upper and lower pairs extending across outer margins, justification: 193 x 128mm, versal initials touched red, running headings and rubrics in red, three- to six-line chapter initials alternately of red or blue, THIRTY-FIVE LARGE 'PUZZLE' INITIALS WITH INTRICATE FILIGREE PEN-WORK, seventeen of eight to eleven lines high with divided staves of red and blue with flourishing of red or lilac, and blue and red marginal extensions, most extending the height of the page, the remainder six- to eight-line red or blue initials with lilac or red flourishing, (occasional light marginal staining). Modern black panelled leather, gilt edges.
1. The style of decoration suggests an origin in the IJssel region of the Northern Netherlands, A. Korteweg, Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen. Randversiering in Noordnederlandse handschriften uit de vijftiende eeuw, 1992, no.114.
2. Erased ownership inscription on f.1, ending '..crucis', in a 19th-century hand.
3. ?C.G. Hullman, ownership inscription on front flyleaf in an early 20th-century hand, with commentary on content in Latin.
4. Thomas Jefferson Coolidge Jr (1863-1912) of Manchester, Mass. or his son of the same name (1893-1959): armorial bookplate from an earlier binding inside upper cover.
5. Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass.
Vulgate New Testament with customary prologues ff.1-175.
The monks of Windesheim, founded in 1395 to further the Devotio Moderna, undertook the task of revising the texts essential to their religious life. Once they had standardised their liturgical books, they turned their attention to the Bible. They sought to rid the Vulgate of the inaccuracies that had crept in over centuries of copying. As a result there was a renewed interest in the production of Latin Bibles and numerous folio Bibles have survived from the houses of the Windesheim Congregation and the Brethren of the Common Life, the most celebrated being the five-volume Bible written by Thomas à Kempis between 1426 and 1439 (Darmstadt, Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek, ms 324): J. Marrow, H.L.M. Defoer, A.S. Korteweg, W.C.M. Wüsterfeld, The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting, 1990, pp.80-82. The present manuscript -- a more modest volume with flourished rather than historiated initials -- was doubtless a product of one of these communities. It can be compared with two Bibles produced by the Brethren of the Common Life at Hattem, dated 1433 and 1434, J.P. Gumbert, Manuscrits datés conservés dans les Pays Bas, II, 1988, nos 325 and 772. Hattem is on the IJssel, which linked some of the most important houses, Windesheim itself, Zwolle, Deventer and Arnhem. The copying of manuscripts and, later, printing were not only important sources of income but also facilitated the unadulterated access to the word of God and the spread of education that were among the brothers' central concerns.