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De Natura Avium; De Pastoribus et Ovibus; Bestiarium; Mirabilia Mundi; Philosophia Mundi; On the Soul
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
Ms. Ludwig XV 4 (83.MR.174)
Leaf: 23.3 × 16.4 cm (9 3/16 × 6 7/16 in.)
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".
mid 16th century
Edmundus Lathamus, British,
Source: Sixteenth-century signature on flyleaf
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
Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988, sold to Dr. Peter and Irene Ludwig, 1977.
Gothic Manuscript Illumination: 1250-1375 (January 16 to March 13, 1985) (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)
- Stedelijk Museum Vander Kelen-Mertens (Leuven), September 21 to December 8, 2002
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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Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts (January 22 to June 26, 2016) (fols. 117v - 118 and 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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Preedy, Lee, and William Noel, eds. Medieval Mastery: Book Illumination from Charlemagne to Charles the Bold, 800-1475, exh. cat. Lee Preedy and Greta Arblaster-Holmer, trans. (Leuven: Stedelijk Museum Vander Kelen-Mertens; with Uitgecerij Davidsfonds and Brepols Publishers, 2002), pp. 206-7, no. 40, ill., entry by Brigitte Dekeyzer.
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Heck, Christian, and Rémy Cordonnier. Le bestiaire médiéval: L'animal dans les manuscrits enluminés (Paris: Éditions Citadelles & Mazenod, 2011), pp. 490, 493, ill.
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Europa in der Welt des Mittelalters: ein Colloquium für und mit Michael Borgolte, 24-25 Mai, 2013. Tillmann Loshe and Benjamin Scheller, eds. (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2014), cover ill.
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