A masterpiece of Gothic layout with interlinear and marginal glosses, handed down through a line of prominent collectors
1 Glossed Gospels of St Luke and St JohnIlluminated manuscript on vellum.
France, Paris or northern France, c. 1210.
332 x 233 mm. 151 leaves, wants in all 13 leaves (and the outer half of fol. 72): I-V8,VI8-1,VII8, (lacks VIII8), IX8-2, X8-1, XI8-1, XII8, XIII6, XIV10, XV-XX8, XXI4; fol. 62 bound out of place after fol. 68. – Written space: 200 x 135 mm, 23 lines of text, 46 lines of gloss, ruled in lead point.Written in dark brown ink in a very fine Gothic text hand, marginal gloss in a smaller version of the same hand, interlinear gloss in a very small and less formal hand. Initials and alinea signs in red and blue with fine penwork, running titles in alternate letters of blue and red (partly cut away on a few leaves), 5 very fine illuminated initials. Numerous notes by the scribe in the inner margins, written in minuscule script, on initials to be inserted. – Very good condition. Meticulously prepared vellum; flaws carefully repaired (old). – 17th-century limb vellum binding (restored, endpapers partly renewed), in a modern cloth case with leather label. Illuminated manuscript on vellum. France, Paris or northern France, c. 1210.
PROVENANCE: 1. Giovanni Battista Leva, priest in the cathedral of Milan (inscription on the flyleaf). 2. Sheppard Frere, of Roydon Hall, Norfolk and his offspring John, John Hookham, George Edward and John Tudor Frere. His sale at Sotheby’s on 14 February 1896. (cf. bookplates on the flyleaf). 3.William Morris, Kelmscott (booklabel on the flyleaf). 4. Alfred Higgins, London (booklabel on the flyleaf). His sale at Sotheby’s 2 May 1904, lot 62. 5. Sir Sydney C. Cockerell until 18 January 1957.There is a long account on the manuscript’s history of ownership since the 18th century by him on the first flyleaf. 6. George A. Goyder, Henley-on-Thames; Sotheby’s 8 July 1970, lot 103. 7. B. S. Cron, Kew. 8. Private collection Europe.
TEXT: fol. 1-89v: Glossed Gospel of St Luke; fol. 89 is blank apart from traces of later annotations – fol. 90-157: Glossed Gospel of St John. Our manuscript comprises the Gospels of St Luke and St John with commentaries in the form of marginal glosses. The layout of the manuscript indicates that it belongs to a multivolume glossed bible. Another volume from the same workshop that contains the four Books of Kings from the Old Testament is published in the Boston exhibition catalogue of Dr. Jörn Günther Antiquariat (no. 12). Only very few copies survive of this type of book, which enjoyed great popularity in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, as numerous entries of donation in medieval library catalogues attest (de Hamel 1984, p. 13). In nearly all extant multi-volume editions the Gospels are combined two by two: the Gospels of Matthew and Mark form one those of Luke and John another volume (Branner 1977, p. 198f.). The bible text presented here follows the version of the Vulgate as it was used at the French cathedral schools at the end of the 12th century. The manuscript was used for study purposes. The biblical commentary (Stegmüller/Reinhardt, Repertorium biblicum, no. 11828, 11830) is that of Anselm of Laon (1050-1117). It was written around 1085 and was disseminated in a large number of copies right away. Anselm’s gloss was regarded as exemplary and therefor was given the epithet Glossa ordinaria. It was developed further by Gilbert of Auxerre, a pupil of Anselm, called Universalis († 1134); likewise his biblical commentaries are included in the present manuscript (Smalley 1935/1936). The mise-en-page of glossed bible manuscripts undoubtedly correlates with the wide dissemination of the Glossa ordinaria. The layout was developed out of the smallest unit of measurement needed. One line of bible text corresponds to two lines of commentary. According to its length the commentary is either inserted as interlinear gloss between the lines of biblical text or written as marginal gloss to the left and right. The extremely meticulous page layout and the number of corrections in the text, which is infinitely small in relation to the difficult mise-en-page, suggest that the codex was transcribed with the help of a model copy. Almost the entire manuscript was annotated by a later hand in pencil.
ILLUMINATION: fol. 1: Initial ‘L’: beginning of the prologue to St Luke – fol. 1v: Initial ‘Q’: beginning of the Gospel of St Luke – fol. 2: Initial ‘F’(uit in diebus) – fol. 90: Initial ‘H’: prologue to John – fol. 91: Initial ‘I’: beginning of the Gospel of St John. The five large initials are neatly designed and reveal the hand of a skilled illuminator who makes use of the repertoire of motifs popular at that time in a masterly and varied way.We cannot determine the manuscript’s exact place of origin. Nevertheless it is certain that the codex was either produced in northern France in one of the cathedral schools (Auxerre, Laon) or in Paris itself, where in these same years the first scriptoria run by laymen were established (Avril 1976). By circa 1170 a standardized illumination and decoration for glossed manuscripts was established, which accentuated the beginnings of chapters by large initials. In the early manuscripts dating from the early 13th century ornamental initials prevail; historiated initials are scarcer, but were also used. Good examples of such glossed biblical manuscripts are the numerous codices written and illuminated in the Augustinian monastery of the Victorines in Paris. A glossed manuscript of the Epistles of St Paul in Troyes (Bibl. mun., cod. 175) from the first decade of the 13th century opens with an initial ‘P’, whose arrangement corresponds with the present manuscript. The codex from Troyes has one figurative initial in addition, which relates it to the Alexander atelier in Paris in the years around 1213 (Stork 1992, p. 104, pl. 47).
LITERATURE: Sales cat. Sotheby’s 14 Feb 1896; sales cat. Sotheby’s 2 May 1904, lot 62; sales cat. Sotheby’s 8 July 1970, lot 103. Smalley 1935/1936; Schmid 1969 (binding); Branner 1975 and 1977; Avril 1976; Riché/Lobrichon 1982; De Hamel 1984; Stork 1992; Light 1994; exh. cat. Boston 2000; Morgan 2002.