(France [probably Paris], ca. 1260). 160 x 105 mm. (6 1/4 x 4 1/8"). Double column, 43 lines in a fine gothic pearl script.

Rubrics in red, capitals struck with red, headlines in red and blue, recto with six-line complex illuminated initial in blue with white tracery on a ground of star-speckled dark blue and pink and with swirling infill, including a cat's head, VERSO WITH A SEVEN-LINE HISTORIATED INITIAL DEPICTING THE SAWING OF ISAIAH (see below), the initials with short marginal extensions in colors and gold. With a few marginal annotations in a slightly later informal hand. The gold of the main initial somewhat dulled and eroded, general light soiling, otherwise an appealing leaf without significant condition issues and with dramatic historiation.

The initial that opens the book of Isaiah shows his martyrdom as related in the Talmud. Isaiah had run afoul of Manasseh, King of Judah, by trying to prevent his succession to the throne. When Manasseh ascended despite Isaiah's efforts, the prophet was accused of treason. Though he hid from King Manasseh inside a cedar tree, he was betrayed; the king ordered the cedar sawn in half, and Isaiah was killed. Even on his small canvas, the artist here has managed to capture the malevolence of the executioners and the prophet's dignified resignation.

Keywords: Bibles