|Vulgate Bible (Genesis-Proverbs) |
In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Northern France, Paris, c. 1260-1280
12 illuminated foliate initials and 29 historiated initials by the Bari Atelier
319 ff., complete, bound in a late 15th-or early 16th-century leather binding
Parchment, c. 310 x 215mm, i + 319 + i leaves, foliated in pencil; COMPLETE except for the final supply leaf, collation, 1^18 2–15^20 16^20+1 (last leaf inserted), catchwords, leaf and quire signatures in the first two quires, and “ad hoc” signatures in some later quires, quires also signed in modern pencil on the first leaf, ruled lightly in lead with an extra set of double rules in the upper margins for the running titles, single full-length vertical bounding lines (justification, 200-197 x 144-138 mm.), copied below the top line in a formal gothic bookhand in two columns of forty-four lines, rubrics completed only for Genesis and its prologues, spaces left for others, a few guide notes for the rubricator remain (e.g. fol.309), red and blue running titles and chapter numbers, chapters begin with alternately red and blue two-line initials with pen decoration in the contrasting color extending into red and blue “J”-initials, extending the full-length of the page, TWELVE illuminated foliate initials and TWENTY-NINE HISTORIATED INITIALS in blue and mauve highlighted in white and gold with full-page marginal extensions, deeply cusped, decorated with small gold balls, and ending in floral or zoomorphic terminals, some with rabbits, dogs, human heads, dragons, etc. Bound in a late 15th- or early 16th-century leather binding over substantial wooden boards extending beyond the book block, tooled in blind with three sets of fillets forming a narrow outer border stamped with short rectangular panels of floral motifs with spiral leaves, a middle border of diamond-shaped four-petal floral stamps, and a rectangular centre panel decorated with the same floral stamps and a more complex floral centre ornament set within a frame of winding fillets, these stamps have not been identified exactly but a similar diamond-shaped floral stamp (size uncertain) was used in the border of a binding from Paris or Rouen, c.1509 (Gid and Lafitte, 1997, p.201, no.137), spine with five raised bands, head- and tail- bands with decorative red and green threads, edges gauffered and gilt, some wear front and back especially to the spine and joints, cords partially exposed, straps missing, corners repaired, housed in a modern blue box lettered on the spine in gilt capitals “Old Testament / 13th century” The published descriptions of the companion volume at Harvard (see below) suggests that both volumes are uniformly bound, in “15th cent. blind-tooled brown calf over wood boards”. The first and last leaves creased, the leaves trimmed with occasional loss to extremities of a few painted initials (e.g. fols.80v, 253v, 275v), but generally in fine condition overall.
|Location of Origin: Europe|
|Medium/Materials: illuminated manuscript on parchment, bound in a late 15th-or early 16th-century leather binding|
|Dimensions: 309 x 215 mm|
|Primary Classification: Antique Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Illuminated Manuscripts & Leaves|
|Secondary Classification: Antique Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Religious Texts|
Bible, Genesis–Proverbs (“Stegmüller” refers to the Repertorium biblicum medii aevi, I (Madrid, 1950)):
1. (fols.1r–4r) General prologue (Stegmüller, no. 284).
2. (fol.4r–v) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.285), and Genesis.
3. (fols.28r–47r) Exodus.
4. (fols.47r–60v) Leviticus.
5. (fols.60v–80v) Numbers.
6. (fols.80v–97v) Deuteronomy.
7. (fols.97v–98r) Prologue (Stegmüller, no. 311)
8. (fols.98r–109v) Joshua.
9. (fols.110r–122r) Judges.
10. (fols.122v–124r) Ruth.
11. (fols.124r–125r) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.323)
12. (fols.124r–142r) I Kings
13. (fols.142r–156r) II Kings.
14. (fols.156r–171v) III Kings.
15. (fols.171v–187r) IV Kings.
16. (fol.187r–v) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.328)
17. (fols.187v–210r) I–II Chronicles, with the Prayer of Manasses.
18. (fol.219r–v) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.330).
19. (fols.219v–225r) I Ezra.
20. (fols.225r–233r) Nehemiah.
21. (fols.233r–241r) II Ezra.
22. (fol.241r) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.332)
23. (fols.241r–246r) Tobit.
24. (fol.246r–v) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.335)
25. (fols.246v–253v) Judith.
26. (fol.253v) Prologue (Stegmüller, nos.341+343, written as one prologue)
27. (fols.253v–260r) Esther.
28. (fols.260r–261r) Prologues (Stegmüller, nos.344, 357)
29. (fols.261–275r) Job.
30. (fol.275r–v) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.430)
31. (fols.275v–309r) Psalms.
32. (fol.309r–v) Prologue (Stegmüller, no.457)
33. (fols.309v–318v) Proverbs, ending incomplete in 30:12 (at “non est”); the rest of the text on a late 15th-century supply leaf, beginning “lota a sordibus” (fol.319r–v).
The vast majority of thirteenth century Bibles are small format volumes that contain the complete Bible in one volume. Quite large in size, it is the first volume of a two-volume Bible.
The text agrees with that of the Paris Bible, the Bibles commonly copied in Paris after c.1230, in terms of the order of the biblical books, the choice of prologues, with two exceptions (this Bible lacks the prologue to 2 Chronicles (Stegmüller, no.327), and includes a prologue to the Psalms (Stegmüller, no.430), the use of modern chapters, and the readings of the text (see de Hamel, 2001 and Light, 2011).
The Bible was illuminated by artists known as the Bari atelier, active in Paris from c. 1250-1270 (see Branner, 1977, appendix VN, pp. 229-30, and 102-107, and Branner, 1969). Branner assigned nineteen manuscripts to this atelier, and listed six additional manuscripts as related; he did not know of this Bible, or the Bible, now Durham Cathedral Library, MS A.II.3, that is similar in many ways to the Bible described here, although it is even larger, measuring 412 x 272 mm., and complete in one volume (Gameson, 2010 and 2013). These artists seem to have specialized in illuminating larger copies of the Bible; in addition to the Durham Bible, they also illuminated Paris, BnF, MSS lat. 14234-14237, a four-volume Vulgate measuring 500 x 344 mm., Paris, BnF, MS lat 16, measuring 312 x 205 mm., Brussels, Bibl. Royale, MS 830, 297 x 199 mm., and Le Mans, BM, MS 262, also a four-volume Bible, measuring 414 x 345 mm. (as well as a few smaller Bibles).
These artists also illuminated a number of books in French. One book of special note is Giessen, Universitätsbibliothek 945, a copy of Justininan's Code in French, includes an advertisement from the libraire, or bookseller, Herneis “le romanceeur”: “Herneis the Romancer (i.e. maker of books in French) sold this; if anyone wants a book like it would come to him, he will give good advice about this and all others. He resides in Paris in front of Notre-Dame” (translated in Rouse and Rouse, I, p.47, and II, p.52). This is not to say that all the books decorated by the Bari atelier artists were sold by this Herneis, nonetheless, this remarkable advertisement is documentary evidence that firmly places the illumination of one of their books in Paris.
The initials are quite large (many as tall as 45 mm.), and all extend the full-length of the page, many with extensions in the upper or lower margins. The ornamental foliate initials with their distinctive spiral are characteristic of this atelier (Branner, 1969). The historiated initials typically include one or more figures, most often standing, depicted against a diapered background. Usually the background is simple and austere, with only a few elements like the ground, a chair or an altar. The drapery folds are simply painted, highlighted in black ink, with traces of white along the edges. Often, the figures are only slightly grounded in space and seem to “fly” or float within the initial. Their long and elegant hands are placed in meaningful positions, and their faces their faces include square chins and small, round eyes. The figures seem to express deep thought, or even worry and preoccupation. The lips are painted with a touch of red, and most have a characteristic down-turned mouth. Occasionally simple gothic architectural patterns appear, including (fol.1 (St. Jerome), (fol.275v, David harping, and (fol.309v, the Master and pupil. Blue and a subdued reddish-pink are the predominate colors, but the artist also uses touches of bright orange, and brushed gold.
The general form of the initials, with their long extensions into the borders (all extend the full length of the text, and many continue into the upper or lower margins), deeply-cusped along the edges, are related to the later manuscripts by the Bari atelier (including for example, Bnf, MS lat 830, a Missal of about 1260), or Le Mans, Bibliothèque municipal, MS 262 (painted by the Bari atelier, and the St. Chapelle atelier, Cholet group. The fondness of the artist for decorative touches, including birds, storks, etc. add considerably to the charm of these classically Parisian, elegant images (birds also a motif also found in Huntington Library, HM 1072, a related Bible).
The historiated initials are typically 9 or 10 lines high; their subjects are:
R. Branner, “Two Parisian Capella Books in Bari”, Gesta, 8 (1969), pp.14–19.
|Provenance: 1. This is the first half of a single-volume Bible that was later divided in two (see below). It was doubtless written and illuminated in Paris, c.1260-70, as the illumination can be attributed to the stylistic group known as the Bari atelier (named after a Gradual now at San Nicola, Bari, see Branner, 1977, appendix VN, pp.229-30, and 102-107, and Branner, 1969). Datable manuscripts from this atelier are all from the 1250s and early 1260s; the elaborate decorative details of the initials used here suggest a date in the 1260s.2. Unidentified late 13th- or early 14th-century clerical owner: marginal annotations are especially dense in Genesis (fols.1v–12v) and from the beginning of I Kings to the prologue of Job (fols.125r–261r); in addition, several of the main divisions in the Psalms have marginal annotations indicating the canticles that are to be chanted at those points in the liturgy; e.g., between the end of Ps.51 and the beginning to Ps.52 is “ego dixi. ysa.xxxviii.” i.e. the Canticle beginning “Ego dixi” from Isaiah 38; between Pss.68 and 67 is “exultavit .i.R.2.” i.e. the Canticle beginning “Exultavit”, from I Samuel (“Regum” in the Vulgate) chapter 2; and so on.3. Unidentified 14th-century French reader: extensive marginal notes are found added to the prologues and Genesis 1-21, and from 1 Kings 7 to the prologues to Job, and elsewhere.4. LOUIS DE HARCOURT (1424–79), PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM AND BISHOP OF BAYEUX (from 1460), formerly Bishop of Béziers and Archbishop of Narbonne (from 1451): the Harvard volume (see below) has an inscription dated 1476 at the end recording his ownership and listing his ecclesiastical appointments: “Hec biblia est Reverendissimi in Christo patris ac domini dom. Ludovici de Haricuria pontificis quondam Biterren [Béziers] mox archipresulis Narbonensis [Narbonne], nunc autem Patriarche Hierosolimitani [Jerusalem], episcoique Baiocensis [Bayeux] necnon et amministratoris perpetui monasterii de Lira [Lyre] Ebroiocensis [Evreux] dyoceseos” (fol.335v).5. The Bible was divided into two volumes and bound in its present binding after Harcourt’s death; the volumes must have become separated soon after, because only Vol.II was owned by:6. A MEMBER OF THE BOYER(?) FAMILY, late 15th century: when the volume was divided the leaf which contained both the end of the Book of Proverbs and the start of Ecclesiastes was kept at the start of Vol.II. This meant that the end of Proverbs was now missing from Vol.I and had to be replaced, hence the replacement leaf (vol.I, fol.319). In addition, the tail-end of Proverbs was not necessary at the start of Vol.II, so it was over-painted in the 15th century with a miniature of The Judgement of Solomon (Vol.II, fol.1v), and, in the lower margin was also added a motto “Memorare” on a large scroll in front of a heraldic shield: quarterly, 1 and 4 azure, on a chevron argent, between three birds’ heads erased or, a mullet gules, 2 and 3 also azure, on a bend argent three crayfish gules; a note at the end of the volume ascribes these arms to the Boyer family, but it has not been possible to confirm this. The fact that no equivalent marks of ownership or heraldry were added to Vol.I, shows that the two volumes were separated by this date. The second volume was later owned by Arthur Brölemann (1826–1904), and was sold by his great-granddaughter at Sotheby’s, 4 May 1926, lot 4 (from which catalogue we take the preceding transcription and heraldic description), the catalogue with two full-page plates; it was subsequently owned by Philip Hofer, who bequeathed it to Harvard University, where it is today MS. Typ. 239 (see Bibliography).7. Unidentified 18th(?)-century French bookseller: notes in ink “319 feuillets. 38 jolies petities peintures” and pencil “[orn]és de 38 jolies pei[...]s” (front pastedown) and an ink price-code “u - - xn - -” (back pastedown).8. Private collection, Switzerland.|
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