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Details & Cataloguing

Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental Books

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London

A leaf from a grand Romanesque lectern Bible, in Latin
[FRANCE (OR ENGLAND?), EARLY 12TH CENTURY]
c.485x340mm, vellum, a single leaf, ruled in drypoint for 2 columns of 49 lines, the ruled space c.400x250mm, containing Ephesians 1:19–6:3 (recto: ‘[superemi]nens magnitudo … evangelistas alios au-’, verso: ‘tem pastores … sit tibi &’), in a very fine romanesque hand, with running headings ‘Ad’ and ‘ephesios’, the chapters numbered [ii]–xxiii, with initials alternately red or blue, recovered from use as a book-cover, thus darkened with surface dirt on the verso and with significant traces of paste on the recto, and with a few small holes, but still almost entirely legible
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Catalogue Note

Bible manuscripts on this grand scale are peculiarly characteristic of the 12th century. The wealthiest monasteries would have had two finely illuminated copies, one for reading aloud in the Refectory during meals, the other for use in the Choir: English and French examples such as the Winchester, Bury, Lambeth, Capucins, and Souvigny Bibles are among the most impressive books of the Middle Ages.

Before the introduction of the modern of chapter and verse divisions at the beginning of the 13th century, biblical books were divided in various different ways. On the present leaf, for example, the first and last chapter numbers, ‘iii’ and ‘xxiii’, correspond to the modern Ephesians 2:8 and 6:1.

This stately leaf contains almost the entire book of Ephesians, lacking only about 20 verses at the beginning and at the end.

Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental Books

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London