Lot 215

BIBLE, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum, probably Paris or northern France, 13th-century, 4to (216 x 155mm), c.480 leaves with 86 FINE HISTORIATED INITIALS painted in colours and gold [see note], 19th-century brown morocco, clasps.

Estimate: £20,000 - £30,000
Hammer price: £86,000
Bidding ended. Lot has been sold.

BIBLE, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum, probably Paris or northern France, 13th-century, 4to (216 x 155mm). c.480 leaves, 46-lines of text in a small gothic bookhand in double column throughout, with 86 FINE HISTORIATED INITIALS painted in colours and gold, extending with decorative flourishes into the margins [see note], c.45 plainer painted initials, smaller initials to chapter openings painted in red or blue, text with fine marginal decoration of tendrils in blue and red, running rubricated book headings painted in red and blue (section cut away from one leaf of "The Song of Solomon" with partial loss of 14 lines of text from one column on verso and recto [?possibly removing an initial], blank corner from one upper fore-margin of another leaf cut away, not affecting letters or decoration, a few very small naturally-occurring holes, some light staining, a few leaves lightly creased, a few passages of text a little faded, but always legible). 19th-century full brown crushed morocco by Kerr and Richardson, Glasgow, spine lettered in gilt ("Biblia Sacra. Secolo xiv" [sic]) with 4 raised bands, dentelles, dark blue watered silk liners, uncut, 2 finely-worked, probably continental, silver clasps with biblical figures (extremities rubbed, some light scratching and scuffing). Provenance: The Property of a Lady, by descent from her great grandfather; old annotation at a few margins with numerous manicules; old manuscript pagination to rectos [i.e. numbering the leaves, not pages]; later hand-written note describing the manuscript loosely-inserted, stating: "Manoscritti in Pergamena. Biblia Sacra. Codice membranaceo in 4º del Secolo XIV, di fogli 434 [sic], scritto a due colonne in bel carattere gatico minutissimi in rosso e nero, e ricco di 81 [sic] grandi iniziali con figure minate, più fregi e capo - lettere d'un gusto perfetto da attribuirsi alla scuola Francese del mezzo-giorno. Contiene tutta la Biblia fatte per uso de' Frati Domenicani. Vi sono delle iniziali le quali racchindono pi di 10 figurine miniate d'una perfetta conservazione. - Exemplare marginoso, e ben conservato in bellissimna pergamena. Segatura della scorso secolo in pelle coi cordini. [Concluding in English:] Rebound (without cutting) in Levant crushed morocco, extra, extra, with antique silver clasps." The fine historiated initials, their details picked out in liquid gold, are sometimes crowded with human or angelic figures in architectural settings, but also occasionally incorporate horses, dogs, birds of prey and other animals, and are unusual in their merging of Italian and French influences. Whilst the general style and placement of the decoration is characteristic of the 13th-century, it has been suggested that the initials might be re-touched or later embellishents of the 19th-century, possibly added when the manuscript was re-bound, although the authenticity of the 13th-century text, whose spaces and indentations the initials and decorations so neatly accommodate, has never been in doubt. If you would like to see high resolution images of the initials, please contact our office at sussex@bellmans.co.uk.

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