Providing a Memorable Sense of Biblical Majesty


(Italy, later 12th century). 530 x 320 mm. (20 7/8 x 12 1/2"). Double column, 49 lines in a beautiful proto-gothic book hand.

Rubrics, running title, chapter numbers, and initials in red, WITH A LARGE, STRIKING "P" painted in red, green, blue, and yellow, with white vine-stem work. One margin of recto somewhat smudged, a hint of wrinkling, but in general EXTREMELY WELL PRESERVED, THE GORGEOUS INITIAL IN PERFECT CONDITION.

This is a spectacular example of an Atlantic Bible leaf, written in an elegant and clearly quite talented hand. The text is an excerpt of the First and Second Epistles to Timothy, part of the 13 books of the New Testament known as the Pauline Epistles, which are believed to have been written by St. Paul to his disciples. The striking initial that opens 2 Timothy is an excellent example of the typical Italian decorative mode of the 12th century, featuring pleasing knot work and white vine-stem designs. One can also see hints of yellow paint in the initial, a color favored over gold leaf at this place and time. Even as a single leaf, this item provides a memorable sense of majesty; one can easily imagine how the magnificent volume as a whole would have communicated the importance of God’s word. From time to time in the marketplace one sees Atlantic Bible leaves salvaged from bindings, but it is uncommon to encounter single leaves that have not been recycled, especially leaves in agreeable condition, and more especially leaves with splendid capitals as here.

Keywords: Bibles