The J. Paul Getty Museum

De Natura Avium; De Pastoribus et Ovibus; Bestiarium; Mirabilia Mundi; Philosophia Mundi; On the Soul

Object Details


De Natura Avium; De Pastoribus et Ovibus; Bestiarium; Mirabilia Mundi; Philosophia Mundi; On the Soul



Hugo of Fouilloy (French, about 1110 - about 1173/1174)

and William of Conches (about 1080 - before 1154)




Thérouanne ?, France (formerly Flanders) (Place Created)


1277 or after


Tempera colors, pen and ink, gold leaf, and gold paint on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with paneled calf

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig XV 4 (83.MR.174)


Leaf: 23.3 × 16.4 cm (9 3/16 × 6 7/16 in.)

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Object Description

A bestiary is a collection of stories about animals, birds, fish, plants, and even stones, whose properties were interpreted as reflections of the divine order of God. During the 1200s, curiosity about the natural world was so prevalent that the illustrated bestiary reached the height of its popularity. In addition to the main text of the bestiary, this manuscript contains five other studies of the natural world: treatises on birds, astronomy, the relation of the soul to the body, and a remarkable series of seven full-page miniatures illustrating the exotic peoples believed to inhabit the world.

In the introduction, the author states, "What the mind of simple people would scarcely be able to capture with its mental eye, it can at least capture with its physical one." The "simple people" were beginning students at the monastery who could read Latin but for whom complex theological material was new and difficult. The lively and entertaining images found in this manuscript were intended to help readers remember the contents of the works.

after 1414 - 1447

Humphrey of Lancaster, British, 1390 - 1447
Source: F. 197, "Ce livre est A moy Humfrey duc de Gloucestre Comte (Earl) de Pembrocshire".

1447 -

Possibly King's College
Source: M.R. James, Descriptive Catalogue...King's College, 1895, 73-4.

mid 16th century

Edmundus Lathamus, British,
Source: Sixteenth-century signature on flyleaf
Note: The Latham family also owned in the sixteenth-century a book which had belonged to Henry III (Wright, Fontes Harleiani, 216) and thus perhaps had access to the royal collections. May have been known as the 'magister artium' of Cambrige University by 1499.

- 1608

Private Collection (Lambeth, London), sold to John, son of Roger Arundell of Trerice, by a Mr. Gold, 1608.
Source: Inscription on flyleaf.

1608 - 1613

Sir John Arundell, British, 1557 - 1613

before 1666 - 1977

Sion College [sold, Catalogue of Important and Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts the Property of Sion College, Sotheby's, London, June 13, 1977, lot 72, to H.P. Kraus.]
Source: Sion College/Library stamp on fols. ivv, vi, viiv, 111, and 197v
Note: Ms. Arc.40.2/L.28


Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988, sold to Dr. Peter and Irene Ludwig, 1977.

1977 - 1983

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

Provenance Remarks: A note from the 1960 H.P. Kraus catalogue states that Duke Humphrey had intended to leave all his books to Oxford, as he was 'protector' of Oxford University from 1430 until his death in 1447. But upon his death, despite protests from Oxford, the books entered the royal collections and many were given to the newly-founded King's College, Cambridge, whose catalogue of c.1452 (incorporating books from Duke Humphrey’s library) included both "Liber de animalibus cum multis aliis contentis" and "Bestiarium" (M.R. James, Descriptive Catalogue..King's College, 1895, 73-4). The present manuscript however, does not correspond in the 'secundo folio'(cataloguing device, being the opening words of the second leaf of a book) with either of these. Perhaps the inscription on fol. viib indicated that the book was not to be sent to Cambridge but kept back in London, possibly for the royal library at Richmond. The present manuscript is a hitherto unrecorded book from Duke Humphrey’s library which "would have been of exceptional interest, if it had survived". Although it was recorded that a manuscript at Sion's College (whose library was formed about the time that Duke Humphrey’s finally vanished) held similar inscriptions to that of the present manuscript, it is not recorded as being held in their collection until the late 17th century, where it remained until 1977. As such, the provenance has been updated (as of February 2020) to include King's Library as an ex-collections constituent until further research proves otherwise.

Gothic Manuscript Illumination: 1250-1375 (January 16 to March 13, 1985) (fols. 117v-118)
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Secular Manuscripts (October 21, 1986 to January 4, 1987) (fols. 117v-118)
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Illuminated Gothic Manuscripts (January 20 to April 5, 1987) (fols. 118v-119)
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Illuminated Secular Manuscripts (July 17 to September 30, 1990) (fols. 117v-118)
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Illuminated Secular Manuscripts (January 24 to April 9, 1995) (fols. 117v-118)
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Ten Centuries of French Illumination (April 23 to July 7, 1996) (fols. 111v-112)
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Illuminating the Mind's Eye: Memory and Medieval Book Arts (July 23 to October 6, 1996) (fols. 2v-3)
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Medieval Mastery: Illumination from Charlemagne to Charles the Bold (800-1475) (September 21 to December 8, 2002) (fols. 117v-118)
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The Glory of the Gothic Page (December 16, 2003 to March 7, 2004) (fols. 73v-74)
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The Medieval Bookshelf: From Romance to Astronomy (January 24 to April 9, 2006) (fols. 111v-112)
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Medieval Beasts (May 1 to July 29, 2007) (fols. 118v-119)
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Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination 1200-1350 (December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012) (fols. 73v-74; fols. 94v-95)
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Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts (January 22 to June 26, 2016) (fols. 117v-118; fols. 119v-120)
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Remembering Antiquity: The Ancient World Through Medieval Eyes (January 24 to May 28, 2017) (fols. 157v-158)
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Outcasts: Prejudice and Persecution in the Medieval World (January 30 to April 8, 2018) (fols. 118v-119)
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Pathways to Paradise: Medieval India and Europe (May 1 to August 5, 2018) (fols. 113v-114)
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The Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World (May 14 to August 18, 2019) (fols. 117v-118)
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