Lot 11
  • 11


80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • ink on vellum
c.240x155mm, vellum, ii+438+iii leaves, lacking a few leaves at the beginning and elsewhere, catchwords, collation: i12-4 (lacking i-iv), ii-vi12, vii10, viii-xiii12, xiv12-1 (lacking viii), xv12-1 (lacking i), xvi-xiii12, xix12-1 (lacking x), xx12, xxi12-1 (lacking iv), xxii-xxv12, xxvi12-1 (lacking vi), xxvii-xxviii12, xxix12-1 (lacking iv), xxx-xxxiv12, xxxv12-4 (lacking ix-xii), xxxvi16, xxxvii18-1 (lacking i), xxxviii2, ruled in plummet and written below top line, 2 columns of 49 lines, c.145x90mm, 67 HISTORIATED INITIALS at the beginnings of biblical books, 57 ILLUMINATED INITIALS for the prologues and 18 more for the Interpretations of Hebrew names, with very wide margins, some general wear and tear notably at beginning and end but the illumination generally in excellent condition, bound in mottled brown leather over pasteboards, the spine densely gilt with title in gilt capitals ‘Biblia Sacra’, front cover with 19th-century paper label inscribed ‘Manuscrit du XIV siècle’, very worn and the joints weakening

Catalogue Note

PROVENANCE (1) 18th/19th-century ink stamp of ‘B. Grandmaison’, and a descriptive note signed ‘B G’ on the upper pastedown. (2) In a European private collection since the early 20th century.


The volume is profusely illuminated in the style of the so-called LEBER GROUP, which takes its name from a Psalter in Rouen, Leber MS 6 (R. Branner, Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis, 1977, pp.61 and 208-09). The main painter was active in Paris from the 1240s and 1250s and one of his major commissions was the Evangeliary made for King Louis IX (Paris, BnF, lat.8892). The deeply scooped folds in his draperies, called Muldenfalternstil, are characteristic of manuscripts made in Paris from around 1235-1250. Each initial is singularly ennobled with a pristine, burnished-gold background.


The text of this Vulgate Bible is essentially that of a standard 13th-century Bible as defined by Neil Ker (Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries, I, pp.96-7, etc.), with the usual prologues and the usual Interpretations of Hebrew names from ‘Aaz’ to ‘Zorobabel’ but with a couple of additional prologues to Baruch and Ezekiel. It ends with a rhyming verse colophon ‘Finito libro sit laus et gloria Christo’.

The subjects of the historiated initials are: [lacking Genesis]; (1) Exodus. Christ giving the Tablets to Moses (f.16v); (2) Leviticus. Jews offering sacrifices at an altar (f.30v); (3) Numbers. Christ addressing Moses (f.40v); (4) Deuteronomy. Moses (horned) watching the Tablets being placed in the Ark (f.54r); (5) Joshua. Christ addressing Joshua (f.66v); (6) Judges. Christ addressing a soldier (f.75r); (7) Ruth. Elimelech and Naomi travelling (f.84r); (8) I Kings. The killing of the sons of Eli and the theft of the Ark (f.86r); (9) II Kings. King David and the execution of the Amalekite (f.98v); (10) III Kings. Abishag brought to David (f.108v); (11) IV Kings. Ahaziah (face smudged) falling from the tower (f.120v); (12) I Chronicles. The descendants of Adam (f.132r); (13) II Chronicles. King Solomon enthroned (f.142v); (14) Ezra. Jeremiah reading, King Cyrus listening (f.155v); [lacking Nehemiah and II Ezra]; (15) Tobit blinded by the swallow (f.166v); (16) Judith beheading Holofernes (f.170r); (17) King Ahasuerus extending his golden rod to Esther (f.174v); (18) Job on the dung heap, visited by his wife and friends (f.179r); (19) Psalm 1. King David harping, above David and Goliath (f.187v); (20) Psalm 26. The Coronation of David by Samuel (f.190v); (21) Psalm 38. Christ, and David pointing to his mouth (f.192v); (22) Psalm 52. The Fool before David (f.194v); (23) Psalm 68. Christ blessing, above David in the water (f.196v); (24) Psalm 80. David playing bells (f.198v); (25) Psalm 97. Priests chanting (f.201r); (26) Psalm 109. The Trinity (f.203r); (27) Proverbs. Solomon chastising Rehoboam (f.208r); (28) Ecclesiastes. A king with a fleur-de-lys and a dead youth? (f.215r); (29) Song of Solomon. The Virgin and Child (f.217r); [lacking Wisdom]; (30) Ecclesiasticus. Personification of Ecclesia (f.222v); [lacking Isaiah]; (31) Jeremiah being stoned (f.250v); (32) Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem (f.268v); (33) Baruch writing (f.270v); (34) Ezekiel’s dream of the tetramorph (f.273r); (35) Daniel in the lions’ den (f.290r); [lacking Hosea]; (36) Joel addressing a group of men (f.298r); (37) Amos. Men watching the collapse of a city (f.299v); (38) The hand of God above Obadiah, sleeping (f.301v); (39) Jonah emerging from the fish (f.302r); (40) Micah addressing a group of men (f.302v); (41) Nahum watching the destruction of Nineveh (f.304r); (42) God addressing Habakkuk (f.305r); (43) Zephaniah addressing a group of men (f.306r); (44) Haggai, full length (f.307r); (45) Zechariah, full length (f.308r); (46) Malachi addressed by an angel (f.310v); (47) I Maccabees. The execution of the idolatrous Jew (f.312r); (48) II Maccabees. The messenger (f.322r); [lacking Matthew]; (49) Mark and his evangelist symbol (f.339r); (50) Luke. Zachariah praying to God at an altar (f.345v); (51) John and his evangelist symbol (f.357r); (52) Romans. Paul holding a cross addressing Jews (f.365v); (53) I Corinthians. Paul addressing a man and woman at an altar (f.369v); (54) II Corinthians. An angel appearing to Paul, sleeping (f.373v); (55) Galatians. Paul addressing parents with a child (f.376v); (56) Ephesians. Paul in prison guarded by a soldier (f.377v); (57) Philippians. Paul watching the killing of a Jew (f.379r); (58) Colossians. Paul and Moses, who has dropped the tablets (f.380r); (59) I Thessalonians. Paul and figures rising from a grave (f.381r); (60) II Thessalonians. Paul watching as a king is struck in the eye by a bolt from heaven (f.382r); (61) I Timothy. Paul watching a deacon and a bishop (f.382v); (62) II Timothy. Paul crowning a soldier (f.383v); (63) Titus. Paul watching parent chastising a child (f.384r); (64) Philemon. Paul in prison, and a bishop (Philemon) giving food to a youth (Onesimus) (f.384v); (65) Paul addressing the Hebrews (f.385r); (66) Acts. Pentecost (f.388r); (67) James, full length (f.398v). [lacking I–II Peter, I-III John, Jude, and Apocalypse].