Leaf from the Morgan Picture Bible

Object Details


Leaf from the Morgan Picture Bible






Northern France, France (Place created)


about 1250


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment


Leaf: 32.5 x 29.1 cm (12 13/16 x 11 7/16 in.)

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The Morgan Picture Bible stood over a foot tall and contained more than 380 scenes from the Old Testament, extending from the story of Creation to the reign of King David. Though it originally consisted exclusively of pictures with no accompanying text, three sets of captions were later added to the leaves, summarizing the contents of the images. Scribes in southern Italy added inscriptions in Latin around 1300, and inscriptions in Persian and Judeo-Persian--Persian written in the Hebrew alphabet--were added in the 1600s.

Cardinal Bernard Maciejowski, Bishop of Cracow, Poland, presented the Morgan Picture Bible to the Persian ruler of the early 1600s, Shah Abbas, centuries after it was made. The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York now owns the book, which is missing a number of folios including the Getty Museum's leaf. Who removed leaves from the book and for what reason? The answer may lie with the Shah. All of the missing leaves come from the part of the book that tells the story of Absalom's defiance of his father, King David. Scholars have suggested that Shah Abbas did not approve of that story and may have had the leaves cut out.

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