THREE LEAVES WITH THREE HISTORIATED AND ONE ILLUMINATED INITIAL FROM THE CHUDLEIGH BIBLE, illuminated manuscript on vellum [north-eastern France, perhaps Arras, c.1220-30]
Three leaves from what would have been a monumental and prestigious 13th-century illuminated Bible. The style of illumination is derived from that of the early Parisian Moralised Bible ateliers, and particularly the Alexander atelier, which takes its name from the inscription at the top of a Bible, now Bibliothèque nationale de France, ms. lat. 11930-11931. That said, this particular production fits into a group of illuminated manuscripts associated with the abbey of St-Vaast in Arras and was perhaps made there: a testament to early regional collaboration in manuscript illumination.
The initials are: (i) illuminated initial ‘S’ opening the prologue to the book of Jonah; historiated initial ‘E’ with Jonah and the whale opening the book of Jonah; (ii) historiated initial ‘E’ with King David, wrapped up to fend off the cold in his old age, being presented with Abishag, whose duty was to keep him warm, opening the third book of Kings; (iii) historiated initial ‘P’ with the death of Joshua opening the book of Judges.
- The parent manuscript was probably made in Arras c.1220-30.
- LORD CLIFFORD OF CHUDLEIGH: his sale, Sotheby’s, 7 December 1953, lot 51, and again 8 July 1970, lot 104.
- Leaves have appeared in Quaritch, cat.1147, 1991, no 15; Maggs, cat.1167, 1993, no 2; and Sotheby’s, 6 December 2005, lot 16 and 8 July 2014, lots 13-14.
Three leaves, c.285 x 190mm, 54 lines in two columns, written space: 185 x 120mm.
R. Branner, Manuscript Painting in Paris during the Reign of Saint Louis, 1977, p.30, n.17.
L.M.C. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, I, 1989, p.43.
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