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Glazier-Rylands Bible

  • Object:

    Manuscript

  • Place of origin:

    Hainaut (possibly, illuminated)

  • Date:

    ca.1260-1270 (illuminated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water-based pigments, gold leaf and ink on parchment

  • Museum number:

    8986A

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 29, box A

This leaf is from a large Bible that was made in several volumes. Its format shows that it was designed to be read on a lectern. It would have been made for a religious community rather than for a scholar. The illumination is of a high quality and was probably the work of itinerant illuminators whose work can be found in manuscripts produced in other centres. Where exactly the Glazier-Rylands Bible was made has been disputed. Cambrai has been proposed, as well as Tournai and the county of Hainaut in France. But it is difficult to locate a notional workshop in a specific area, as travelling artists were brought together for specific commissions in different places. At least three illuminators who worked on the Bible moved on to Liège (Southern Netherlands) to contribute to a magnificent Psalter that is considered to have introduced an up-to-date High Gothic style from France to that area. Pages from this Bible are now held in several locations, including the Glazier Collection in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, and the John Rylands University Library in Manchester. The leaves from the Bible now in the V&A were acquired from the dealer and scholar W.H. James Weale in 1883.

Professionally-made books used decorative initials to signal the major divisions of text by making the heading memorable. There was usually a hierarchy of initials within any book to designate sections, chapters, paragraphs and other breaks. The initials were added either by the scribe or, increasingly in the later Middle Ages, by a specialist, in spaces left blank by the scribe. The important initials might be historiated (ie with a figurative picture, 'istoire' being the term for a story) or decorated, while the lesser initials were made up of coloured letters on coloured or gold grounds, often with flourishing in ink of a contrasting colour. The initial E on this page shows King David enthroned. To his right are three young men leading Abishag, an Old Testament maiden, into his presence, the whole under a Gothic canopy. On the side of the page is a marginal bar with ivy leaves, dragons, dogs, a jay and a wood-pecker.

Physical description

Page from a Bible with an initial E on a ground of burnished gold with King David enthroned. To his right are three young men leading Abishag into his presence, the whole under a Gothic canopy. On the side of the page is a marginal bar with ivy leaves, dragons, dogs, a jay and a wood-pecker.

The page is divided into two columns of 26 lines of text on both recto and verso. The text is written in gothic bookhand, quadrata (textualis) in Latin. There are red highlights on the principal capital letters. Ruling on each line includes column edges, page margins, with first line ruling (i.e. above and below top line), column edge ruling and margin ruling extending the full length and width of the page.

Place of Origin

Hainaut (possibly, illuminated)

Date

ca.1260-1270 (illuminated)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Water-based pigments, gold leaf and ink on parchment

Dimensions

Height: 47 cm, Width: 31 cm

Object history note

The leaves are from a large multi-volume Bible decorated by a number of illuminators. The Bible is now split up and kept in nine different collections. Judith Oliver relates the work to a group of manuscripts produced in the area around Lille, Arras and Cambrai in northern France; she identifies the workshop, from which "three artists...migrated east into the diocese of Liège, where they illuminated BN lat. 1077 and Brussels IV-1066".

Historical context note

Data taken from notes compiled by Rowan Watson. The full text of the entry is as follows:

(text also refers to 8986: A to E, 8987: A to D):

"Cat. THE "GLAZIER - RYLANDS BIBLE (8986 A-E; 8987 A-D)

The leaves are from a large multi-volume Bible decorated by a number of illuminators. The Bible is now split up and kept in nine different collections. Judith Oliver relates the work to a group of MSS produced in the area around Lille, Arras and Cambrai in northern France; she identifies the workshop, from which "three artists...migrated east into the diocese of Liège, where they illuminated BN lat. 1077 and Brussels IV-1066"

France (Liège-Arras area) c. 1260-1270

Oliver, 1988, I, 148-153, 161, 170, II, 288, 292, plates 159-160"

Individual item text

'229.1
8986 A
BIBLE (III Kings)

Bought from Weale, 1983
Oliver, 1988, I, p.149'

Descriptive line

Page with an initial letter E from the Glazier-Rylands Bible showing King David and Abishag; Southern Netherlands or north-eastern France (possibly County of Hainaut); ca 1260-70

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Oliver, Judith.Gothic Manuscript Illumination in the Diocese of Liege, c.1250-1330. Leuven: 1988, 2v., ill. p.149.
Watson, Rowan. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. London: V&A Publications, 3002. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177385, p. 82-83.

Labels and date

LEAVES FROM A LECTERN BIBLE
About 1260-70

These leaves were cut from a large Bible
made for a religious community. The Bible,
written out in several volumes, was meant
to be read at a lectern. It was illuminated
by a number of artists. They appear to
have been itinerant, rather than based
at a specific monastery or workshop.

Southern Netherlands
or north-eastern France,
possibly County of Hainaut
Ink on parchment,
with watercolour and gold
Museum nos. 8986, A-B [2009]

Materials

Parchment; Pigment; Ink; Gold leaf

Techniques

Illuminated; Writing

Subjects depicted

Ivy leaves; Woodpecker; Dog; Dragons; Bird; Jay (bird); Marginal illustrations

Categories

Christianity; Religion; Manuscripts; Images Online; Books

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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