ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT LEAF WITH THREE IMPRESSIVE INITIALS FROM A BIBLE. Illuminated manuscript on vellum, [Southern France, perhaps Bordeaux, c. 1300].

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Lot 5
ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT LEAF WITH THREE IMPRESSIVE INITIALS FROM A BIBLE.
Illuminated manuscript on vellum, [Southern France, perhaps Bordeaux, c. 1300].

US$ 8,000 - 12,000
£ 6,400 - 9,600

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Early Printed Books and Illuminated Manuscripts
ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT LEAF WITH THREE IMPRESSIVE INITIALS FROM A BIBLE.
Illuminated manuscript on vellum, [Southern France, perhaps Bordeaux, c. 1300]. Single leaf with three impressive initials, two of them finely historiated, from an outstanding monumental Bible in Latin. Text from the opening of Luke, gothic book hand, 330 x 230 mm. Double column, 40 lines. Rubrics in red, capitals struck with red, recto with two beautiful initials in colors and gold, the first an eight line "Q" containing a picture of Luke dressed in a red robe, addressing the reader through his prologue to Theophilus, the scene set against a blue background with columns and stars traced in wispy white, the tail of the "Q" flowing into a very large 13-line "L" adorned with a flowering blue branch bearing pink and white blossoms and burnished gold disks, the whole on a pale pink background with white tracery, a wide blue descender emanating from the bottom of the capital and running the length of the text, terminating in the lower margin with a cluster of pink blossoms and a stalk bearing a large gold disc; the verso with a striking 17-line historiated "F" showing Zacharias as an old man fulfilling his temple service, kneeling and praying before the altar (as set forth in the accompanying text), the picture with a tessellated pale pink background, the body of the initial in pink on a dark blue background featuring elaborate white tracery accented with burnished gold disks, a curling extension at the tail with a burst of yellow, gold, pink, and white fruit, and a wide ascender in pink, blue, white, and burnished gold running upward the length of the column.

A leaf from a very fine Bible desirable for its aesthetic qualities, the text of this one--as it includes the opening of the Gospel of Luke--is of very special appeal. Among much else here, the first chapter, for example, contains two great announcements made by the angel Gabriel: the first to the doubting Zacharias, informing him of the imminent birth of John the Baptist, and the second being the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary, telling her that she would bear the Savior of mankind. The text of both the "Ave Maria" and the "Magnificat" is taken from this passage. Of particular interest here are the notes for the rubricator (in a scratchy, tiny, but entirely legible hand) that appear at the very edge of the top and bottom margins; these instruct the rubricator--whose work was done separately from the main scribe--as to what the basic wording of his rubrics and headlines are to be. These notes would normally be trimmed off by the binder, so it's a special feature that they are still present.
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