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Manuscript - Commentary on the Epistles of St Paul by Gilbert de La Porée
  • Commentary on the Epistles of St Paul by Gilbert de La Porée
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Commentary on the Epistles of St Paul by Gilbert de La Porée

  • Object:

    Manuscript

  • Place of origin:

    France (South West, illuminated)

  • Date:

    ca. 1150 (illuminated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water-based pigments and ink on parchment

  • Museum number:

    9037D

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 81, box T

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The scholars working in the cathedral schools of the 12th century made a great effort to provide a gloss (commentary) on the Bible. From about 1130 the whole of the Bible had a gloss, which Gilbert de la Porée (ca.1080-1154) further revised for the Psalms and the Epistles of St Paul. Copies of his gloss have the page layout found in this leaf and another four in the V&A collection from the same manuscript, with the gloss written out continuously and the biblical text in a larger script put at the appropriate place alongside. In 1142 Gilbert became Bishop of Poitiers in western France, where his works were copied in books that were decorated in local styles. The V&A leaves are among these. The designs of the initials are of a kind found in manuscripts produced at this time in such centres as Limoges, Angoulême and Moissac. The neat interlace of the initial, and even the colour scheme with a bright green and rich red, are in a totally different idiom from Paris work of this date. The style indicates a date in the mid-12th century or shortly after, which suggests that it represents textual tradition supervised by Gilbert himself.

Physical description

Leaf with a decorated initial P. Initial drawn in ink, with interlace decoration. P terminates in a head which bites the tail of the P. Inside initial is a lion, and red and green infill. The whole on a blue-grey ground in a blue frame bounded by a red line. Also a 6-line initial Q for the gloss, against a blue background with red outline. The initial is a peacock biting its tail, drawn in ink with red, green and white decoration. On both recto and verso are two columns of text in Caroline miniscule script. One column contains a gloss and the other contains the bible text. 43 lines and 42 lines for gloss and text. Pricking for ruling is visible down one side.

Place of Origin

France (South West, illuminated)

Date

ca. 1150 (illuminated)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Water-based pigments and ink on parchment

Dimensions

Height: 242 mm page, Width: 162 mm page, Height: 187 mm written space, Width: 135 mm written space

Object history note

Bought from Weale in 1883.

Historical context note

There was a great effort of academic scholarship in the cathedral schools of the twelfth century to provide a commentary on the Bible. From about 1130, the whole of the Bible had a gloss; Gilbert de la Porée (ca. 1080-1154) further revised the gloss for the Psalms and the Epistles of St Paul. Copies of his gloss have the page layout found in the V&A leaves, with the gloss written out continuously and the biblical text in a larger script put at the appropriate place alongside. This arrangement seems rather clumsy when compared the the alternate-line layout that characterized glossed books produced in Paris, but it was consistently followed for Gilbert's text throughout Europe.

Before the establishment of the university in Paris at the end of the twelfth century, study and teaching centred on outstanding scholars bases in cathedral schools - Laon, Chartres and Paris among others - where books were produced to record their teaching. After ca. 1160 Paris came to predominate as a centre of teaching and book production, but before this date books were produced in cathedral towns: their design and decoration established the standard for the text in question. It has been argued that the books produced in the circle of Gilbert in Chartres were copied in all their aspects when this scholar migrated to Paris (this has been difficult to prove since the library at Chartres was totally destroyed in 1944), so that the first Paris copies were in fact imitations of Chartres books and their illumination.

When Gilbert went to Poitiers in 1142, howeverm his works were copied in books that were decorated in local styles. The V&A leaves are among these. The designs of the initials are of a kind found in manuscripts produced at this time in such centres as Limoges, Angoulême and Moissac. The neat interlace of the initial, and even the colour scheme with a bright green and rich red are in a totally different idiom from Paris works of this date. The style indicates a date in the mid-twelfth century or shortly after, which suggests that it represents textual tradition supervised by Gilbert himself.

Text taken from Watson, Rowan. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. London, 2002.

Caroline or Carolingian Miniscule script (Littera Miniscula Caroline)

No other medieval reform of script, or rather canonization of an evolved script, was as far-reaching and sytematic as that of Caroline miniscule. Its successful diffusion throughout much of early medieval Europe was closely linked to an increase in intellectual activity based on the dissemination of texts, partly due to the emperor Charlemagne's promotion of scholarship and education. Heightened royal, noble and ecclesiastical patronage of book production from the late-eigth-century onwards, and the adoption of Caroline miniscule by the religious foundations and ecclesiastical institutions which were largley responsible for book production at this time, were also key factors in the success of this script.

Diffusion: most of Western Europe from eighth century until eleventh to thirteenth depending on the region.

Taken from Brown, Michelle P. A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600. London, 1900.

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

(The following text refers to 9037 A, B, D, E)

'Cat. 000 EPISTLES OF ST PAUL WITH THE GLOSS OF GILBERT DE LA PORÈE; France (South -west), c. 1150. (9037 A, B, D, E)

Iduvidual item text

' Cat no. 0.3
9037 D
EPISTLES OF ST PAUL (I Thessalonians V 18-28; II Thessalonians I-II, 1) with gloss of Gilbert de la Porée
Leaf with decorated initial P (letter-shape drawn ink with interlace decorated and lion with red and green, the whole on a blue/gray ground in a blue frame bounded by a red line) for the text, and a 6-line decorated initial Q (peacock biting its tail drawn in ink with red, green and ink decoration, on a blue ground bounded with a red line) for the gloss

Inc. (text): Paulus Apostolus (gloss): Quod in precedenti

France (South-West) c. 1150
(240 x 165) mm; written space 187 x 135 mm; 43 & 42 lines for text and gloss; 2 cols.

Bought from Weale, 1883 mm; £2.7s 0d for 9037 A,B, D, E (C missing)
Pub: 1923 cat, 71 ( "Italian"); De Hamel, 1984, p. 20'

Descriptive line

Leaf with decorated initial P, from the Epistles of St Paul (I Thessalonians V, 18-28; II Thessalonians I-II, 1) with Gloss of Gilbert de Porée; French (South-West); ca 1150

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

Watson, Rowan. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. London: V&A Publications, 2002. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177385.
MS described and illustrated on p. 78-79.
de Hamel, Christopher. Glossed Books of the Bible and the Origin of the Paris Booktrade. Woodbridge: D.S. Brewer, 1984. xiv, 105p., ill. ISBN 0859911470.
Stirnemann, P. 'Gilbert de la Porée et les Livres Glosés à Laon, à Chartres et à Paris', in Monde médiéval et société chartraine. Paris, Picard, 1997. 307p., ill. ISBN 270840511X.

Production Note

stylistic reasons

Materials

Pen and ink; Parchment; Pigments

Techniques

Writing; Illumination

Subjects depicted

Lions; Peacocks; Grotesques

Categories

Religion; Christianity; Manuscripts

Production Type

Unique

Collection code

PDP

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