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Bible, in Latin

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Deventer (made)
    Netherlands (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1450-1453 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ink, pigments and gold on parchment. Leather with gold ornaments.

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by George Reid in 1902

  • Museum number:

    MSL/1902/1663 (Reid 23)

  • Gallery location:

    National Art Library

Unlike many manuscripts, we know when this Bible was written and when. Its scribe left two inscriptions in the book, telling us that it was copied in the mid-15th century at the convent of Diepenveen near Deventer, in the diocese of Utrecht.

The convent, founded in 1400 by Johannes Brinckerinck (1359-1419), was the first congregation of nuns to follow the Devotio Moderna or the Movement of Modern Devotion. This new and influential spiritual movement originated from Windesheim at the end of the 14th century. The Devotion Moderna invited laypeople to focus more on personal devotion through prayer, reading and meditation on the Holy Scriptures. The movement preached a simpler way of life in reaction to the pomp and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. These laypeople congregated in newly founded religious communities without taking on monastic vows.

This Bible was therefore copied by one of the nuns at Diepenveen, and certainly illuminated at the convent, judging from the distinctive style of its initials, whose dragons and grotesques are inspired by late 13th- and 14th-century models. In the first inscription (or colophon), at the end of the Book of Ezra, the scribe adds that this book was finished writing on the Feast of St Michael in 1450 (p. 289), while the Book of Malachi was finished in 1453 (p. 558).

The order of the books within the manuscript, as well as the numerous gaps in the usual biblical sequence and the incompleteness of many books, suggests that this bible is made up of the remains of what was once a multi-volumes bible. Nonetheless, it still comprises numerous brightly coloured historiated and decorated initials. Above the historiated initials, traces of red and white thread, or sometimes just sewing holes, indicate that the painted areas were formerly protected by small curtains now lost.

Physical description

Foliation: parchment. i-ii (19th-century paper) + 280 ff. + iii-iv (19th-century paper)

Number of lines: 42 lines for Biblical text, 49 lines for prefaces.

Language: Latin.

Script: Netherlandish hybrida script and Netherlandish semi-hybrida script.

Textual content:
pp. 1-17: Lists of headings in Jerome’s prologues to the Book of Kings, prologue and text of Paralipomenon, ‘Oratio Manasse’, I Ezra, II Ezra and II Ezra.
pp. 21-22: Jerome’s prologue to the Book of Kings.
pp. 23-164: I Kings, 24-IV Kings, 30 (begins abruptly).
pp. 164-240: Book of Paralipomenon (Chronicles), beginning with the preface of Jerome.
p. 241: The apocryphal ‘Oratio Manasse’.
pp. 241-255: Book of Ezra (I Ezra) with preface.
pp. 256-272: Book of Nehemiah (II Ezra), lacking heading (ending abruptly).
pp. 273-289: III Ezra (beginning abruptly).
pp. 293-295: Bifolium with headings.
pp. 297-350: Isaiah (beginning abruptly).
pp. 351-416: Book of Jeremiah (beginning abruptly).
pp. 416-422: Lamentations of Jeremiah.
pp. 422-431: Book of Baruch, with preface.
pp. 431-490: Book of Ezekiel, with preface.
pp. 491-513: Book of Daniel (beginning abruptly).
pp. 513-558: Books of the Twelve Minor Prophets.
pp. 513-522: Book of Hosea.
pp. 522-525: Book of Joel (prefatory miniature and rubric excised).
pp. 525-532: Book of Amos.
p. 532: Book of Obadiah (ending abruptly).
p. 533: Book of Jonas (beginning abruptly).
pp. 534-539: Book of Micah.
pp. 539-541: Book of Nahum.
pp. 541-544: Book of Habakkuk.
pp. 544-546: Book of Zephaniah.
pp. 547-548: Book of Haggai.
pp. 549-556: Book of Zechariah (beginning and ending abruptly).
pp. 557-558: Book of Malachi (beginning abruptly, ending with a colophon).
p. 558: Jerome’s prologue to Hosea.

Decoration: 21 historiated initials (pp. 21, 61, 129, 164, 166, 241, 243, 256, 417, 422, 423, 431, 432, 514, 525, 532, 534, 539, 541, 544, 547), most with grotesques and decorative bars extending into margins. Series of 2-line minor initials in red and blue.

Binding: 19th century, England. Case binding, covered in brown calf with ornament blocked in blind; spine with panels between five raised bands, with ornament tooled in gold, lettered BIBLIA LATINA, MANUSCRIPTUM / IN / MEMBRANIS and 1450-53.

Place of Origin

Deventer (made)
Netherlands (made)


ca. 1450-1453 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Ink, pigments and gold on parchment. Leather with gold ornaments.


Height: 308 mm, Width: 210 mm, Height: 145-150 mm text block, Width: 220 mm text block

Object history note

(1) written and presumably illuminated at the convent of Diepenveen, of the Windesheim Congregation, near Deventer, diocese of Utrecht. Colophons on pp. 289 and 558 date 17 October 1450 and 9 July 1453.
(2) Probably the MS in the library of the Pfarrhaus, Straelen seen by Joseph Hubert Mooren in 1861. The list of images in a 19th-century German hand (p. 20), possibly relates to this perid of custody.
(3) Printed heraldic book-plate (motto Preasto et Persto) of Henry White (d. 1900). Sold at Sotheby’s, London, 21 April 1902, lot 169.
(4) Bequeathed by George Reid to the V&A in 1902.

Descriptive line

Manuscript, Bible, Northern Low Countries (Deventer), ca. 1450-1453.

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

Vogelsang, W. Holländische Miniaturen des späteren Mittelalters. Strasbourg, 1899, pp. 103-104, no. 6.
vol. 1, p. 34, no. 78, pls. 49, 50, 71.
Byvanck, A.W. and G.J. Hoogewerff. Noord-Nederlandsche miniaturen in handschriften er 14e, 15e en 16e eeuwen. 3 vols, The Hague, 1925.
Byvanck, A,W. La Miniature dans les Pays-Bas septentrionaux. trad. A. Haye. Paris, 1937, p. 97.
p. 380
Ker, N.R. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries I. Oxford: 1967.
no. 30
Whalley, J.I. and V.Kaden (eds.). The universal penman. A survey of western calligraphy from the Roman period to 1980. London: 1980.
pp. 10, 15, 70, 71
Whalley, J.I.The pen's excellencie. Calligraphy of western Europe and America. Tunbridge Wells: 1980.
Kohl, W., E. Perssons and A.G. Weiler (eds.). Monasticon Windeshemense. 4 vols, Brussels, 1976-1984, III, p. 602.
W. Scheepsma (ed.). Het ootmoedig fundament van Diepenveen. Zeshonderd jaar Maria en Sint Agnesklooster 1400-2000. Deventer, 2002, cols. pls, 2,3.
I, p. 76, no. 186; II, pl. 134.
Robinson, P.R.Catalogue of dated and datable manuscripts c.888-1600 in London libraries. London: 2003.
vol. 2, pp. 446-453.
Watson, R. Western Illuminated Manuscripts.Victoria and Albert Museum. A catalogue of works in the National Art Library from the eleventh to the early twentieth century, with a complete account of the George Reid Collection. London, 2011.


Parchment; Ink; Pigments; Gold; Leather




National Art Library; Books; Manuscripts; Medieval and renaissance; Christianity

Production Type



National Art Library

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