With Three Charming Historiated Initials, Including Jonah Erupting from the Whale's Mouth


(France, mid-13th century). 153 x 103 mm. (6 x 4"). Double column, 50 lines in a very fine gothic pearl script.

Capitals struck in red, rubrics in red, chapter numbers and running titles in red and blue, two two-line initials in red or blue with contrasting trailing penwork (in one case running the entire length of the page), two three-line initials and one four-line initial painted pink or blue on contrasting ground and highlighted with white paint and gold dots, the ascenders or descenders extending into the margins, THREE FOUR-LINE HISTORIATED INITIALS, ONE SHOWING THE PROPHET OBADIAH WITH TWO SCROLLS, ANOTHER SHOWING JONAH IN PRAYER IN THE MOUTH OF THE WHALE, LOOKING UP AT A CASTLE (REPRESENTING TARSHISH?), AND ANOTHER SHOWING A SEATED MAN IN PRAYER AND A TOWER (MICAH AND THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL OR JUDAH?). A few contemporary corrections in the margins. Just a touch of minor soiling, but a fine, clean, fresh leaf with interesting and well-preserved initials.

The three short books represented here are not of the greatest importance in the wide biblical landscape, but they do provide special opportunities for the artist, since not one, but three, initials need historiation on the same leaf. All of the scenes are executed with charm and care, but the one with Jonah, where he is emerging from the mouth of the whale whose jaws are spread impossibly wide, is especially pleasing.

Keywords: Bibles