The J. Paul Getty Museum

Marquette Bible, 3 vols.

Object Details


Marquette Bible, 3 vols.






Lille (probably), France (Place Created)


about 1270


Tempera colors, black ink, and gold leaf on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with reddish brown pigskin

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig I 8 (83.MA.57)

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Object Description

Monks or nuns probably read aloud from this large Bible at mealtimes in the refectory of a monastery. A team of lay artisans practicing their craft in the thriving commercial cities of the French-Flemish border region wrote and illuminated the book around 1270. From the surviving portions of this manuscript, it is evident that at least six different artists worked on the initials alone; scholars presume that the team of illuminators responsible for the original seven-volume Bible was even larger.

The manuscript's large scale allowed the assembled monks or nuns to appreciate from afar the richness of its decorative scheme. Historiated initials, the usual form of decoration for thirteenth-century bibles, appear at the beginning of each biblical book, and a few fanciful vignettes decorate the margins. The burnished gold backgrounds, dragon motifs, and spiraling tendrils of leaves are characteristic features of northern French Gothic illumination.

In the 1400s, the Bible belonged to the Cistercian convent at Marquette in northeastern France. An inscription in the manuscript in a later hand reports that Philip, Duke of Burgundy, a member of the most influential family of art patrons in late medieval France and Flanders, gave the manuscript to the nuns.


Philippe le Hardi, French, 1342 - 1404

- 1566

Abbey of Marquette
Source: Detailed note by Sir Sidney Cockerell, in Vol. I states that "Marquette was pillaged in 1566 and its library appears to have been dispersed".

by 1575
- 1820

Private Collection [sale, Evans, London May 24, 1820, lot 325.]

- 1892

Edwin H. Lawrence, English, 1819 - 1891 [sold, Sotheby's, London, May 9, 1892, lot 41, to William Morris]

1892 - 1898

William Morris, British, 1834 - 1896 [sold, Sotheby, London, December 5, 1898, lot 168, to Laurence Hodson]

1898 - 1906

Laurence Hodson, British, 1864 - 1933 [sold, Sotheby's, London, December 3, 1906, lot 45, to Quaritch]


Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., sold to Sydney C. Cockerell, 1906

1906 - 1957

Sydney C. Cockerell, English, 1867 - 1962, sold to Arthur Rau, 1957.


Arthur Rau, English, 1898 - 1972 [sold, 20 February, 1957, to H.P. Kraus]

1957 -

Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988

- 1983

Dr. Peter Ludwig, German, 1925 - 1996 and Irene Ludwig, German, 1927 - 2010, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.

Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts (1908)
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club (London), 1908
Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz (May 18 to August 4, 1968)
  • Kunsthalle Köln (Cologne), May 18 to August 4, 1968
The Making of a Medieval Book (November 17, 1998 to May 30, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 17, 1998 to May 30, 1999
Touching the Past: The Hand in the Medieval Book (July 7 to September 27, 2015)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 7 to September 27, 2015

Robert Harding Evans, London. Catalogue of Rare, Splendid, and Valuable Books, Magnificent Assemblage of Original Botanical Drawings, Drawings of Indian Birds and Fish, Complete Set of the Delphin Classics, from the White Knights Library, and Another Equally Celebrated Collection. May 24, 1820, p. 14, lot 325.

Sotheby, Wilkinson, & Hodge, London. Catalog of the Choice and Important Library of Printed Books and Illuminated Manuscripts of the late Edwin Henry Lawrence, Esq. F.S.A. May 9, 1892, p. 4, lot 41.

Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London. Catalog of a Portion of the Valuable Collection of Manuscripts, Early Printed Books &c. of the late William Morris. December 5, 1898, p. 17, lot 168.

Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, London. Catalog of the Valuable Library of Ancient Manuscripts and Valuable and Rare Printed Books. December 3, 1906, p. 6, lot 45.

Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts, exh. cat. (London: The Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1908), pp. 51-52, nos. 109-11, pl. 79.

May, Helmut, ed. Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz, exh. cat. (Cologne: Druckerei J. P. Bachem, 1968), unpaginated, no. D 61, fig. 31.

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A Thousand Years of the Bible: An Exhibition of Manuscripts from The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu [...], exh. cat. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum; Los Angeles: University of California, 1991), pp. 22-23, 37, no. 5, ill.

Marrow, James H. "An Italianate Episode in Dutch Manuscript Illumination."Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 46-47, part 2 (1993/1994), p. 473n10.

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