(Southern France, perhaps Bordeaux: ca. 1300). Leaf: 330 x 230 mm. (13 x 9"); frame: 485 x 370 mm. (19 x 14 1/2"). Double column, 40 lines of text in an extraordinarily fine gothic book hand.
Framed in gold and attractively matted, with glass on both sides. Rubrics in red, capitals struck with red, headlines and chapter numbers in red and blue, two two-line initials in blue with elaborate red and blue penwork extending the full length of the leaf, verso WITH TWO STRIKING INITIALS, ONE INHABITED WITH A BEAST AND THE OTHER HISTORIATED, SHOWING ST. PAUL WITH A SWORD, the first resembling a bird, painted blue, pink, and orange on a gold ground, St. Paul depicted against a blue-tiled background, the initial painted blue on a pink ground with white tracery, both initials with long extenders terminating in the upper and lower margins (the upper extender terminating in a human head), accentuated by gold dots. A bit of wrinkling to the vellum and a touch of soiling around the edges, but BEAUTIFULLY PRESERVED, ESPECIALLY BRIGHT, CLEAN AND FRESH, WITH THE INITIALS IN PRISTINE CONDITION.
This leaf comes from one of the most beautiful Bibles ever illuminated, and, not surprisingly, comes with distinguished provenance. The condition is extraordinarily fine, and the artistic accomplishment here is difficult to overpraise. The painter, who has obviously done his work with great care and confidence, has produced initials characterized by sharply defined figures, impressive precision in the application of paint, and an intelligent design, all of which add up to an unusually high level of aesthetic achievement. St. Paul is particularly well articulated, standing prominently against an azure background. Our leaf was once part of a spectacular Bible in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps (his MS 2506) and later owned by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (his MS W. 173). Phillipps bought the manuscript in the 1820s from Thomas Thorpe, who had purchased it in Spain. The Bordeaux origin is suggested by the presence in the original volume of two 16th century inscriptions by monks from that city. Phillipps' heirs sold the Bible privately to Beatty in 1921, and it was auctioned in his sale at Sotheby's on 24 June 1969 to Alan Thomas, then bought by Duschnes of New York and broken up. The heir to a large estate, Phillipps (1792-1872) made collecting the chief business of his life, eventually becoming simply the greatest collector of manuscripts in history. The American (later British and then Irish) engineer Beatty (1875-1968) started at the bottom and, by the time he was 35, had made a fortune in copper mining. He began a serious career in collecting manuscripts, at first Islamic and then Western, accumulating in the end enough material to fill a catalogue of some 38 volumes. According to George Edwards' article in "Grolier 2000," Beatty "had the highest standards of quality and condition" as a collector, a claim that is validated by the present leaf. (ST14278)
Add to Cart Price: $9,500.00
PJP Catalog: 74.028