The J. Paul Getty Museum

Bible Historiale, 2 vols.

Object Details


Bible Historiale, 2 vols.


Master of Jean de Mandeville (French, active 1350 - 1370)
Guyart des Moulins (French, born 1251)
Peter Comestor (French, about 1100 - about 1179)
Guyart des Moulins (French, born 1251)




Paris, France (Place Created)


about 1360–1370


Tempera on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 1 (84.MA.40)


Leaf: 35 × 26 cm (13 3/4 × 10 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

Compiled at the end of the 1200s by Guiart des Moulins and subsequently expanded, the Historical Bible was the most popular Bible in French of the Middle Ages (it is called the Bible historiale in French). It includes French translations of all the books of the Bible, a series of commentaries written in the 1100s by the scholar Peter Comestor and translated by Guiart from Latin into French, and additional commentaries and glosses authored by Guiart himself. This compilation is called the Historical Biblebecause the commentaries stressed the role of scripture as a record of historical events. Thus, in most illuminated copies, the book of Genesis, the first of the historical books of the Bible, is profusely illustrated, while non-historical books, like those of the prophets, receive only one illumination each. The many extant copies of the Historical Bibleattest to the desire of increasing numbers of lay people to have a complete Bible available in French. More than seventy miniatures illustrate the Getty Museum's two-volume Historical Bible, focusing largely on the narrative aspects of the texts. The Master of Jean de Mandeville, the anonymous master responsible for the majority of the illuminations, painted the costumes of his figures in grisaille, a monochrome technique popular in Paris in the 1300s. The contrasting brightly patterned backgrounds underscore the three-dimensionality of the delicately drawn, palely colored figures.


Nicolas d'Oresme, French, died 1382

before 1640

Charles-Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre, duke, French, 1571 - 1640
Source: Metal medallion on manuscript binding with the Clermont-Tonnerre coat-of-arms

possibly late 17th century

Possibly Guillaume de Lamoignon, French, 1617 - 1677

by 1770

Chrétien-François II de Lamoignon, French, 1735 - 1789
Source: Crowned "L" stamp (vol. II, fol. 2r); Catalogue des livres de la bibliothèque de feu M. de Lamoignon, gardes des sceaux de France, II, Paris, 1791, catalogue particulier des manuscrits, p. 1, no. 2.


Hamilton Palace [sold, Hamilton Collection sale, Sotheby's, London, May 23, 1889, lot 7, to Bernard Quaritch.]


Bernard Quaritch, Ltd. [sold, Bernard Quaritch, London, 1892, to Lady Ludlow.]

possibly 1892-by 1940

Alice Sedgwick (Mankiewicz) Ludlow (Lady Ludlow), 1862 - 1945 [sold, Lady Ludlow sale, Sotheby's, London, December 16, 1940, lot 425, to Maggs Brothers.]

after 1940 - before 1983

Martin Bodmer, Swiss, 1899 - 1971 (Switzerland)


Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.
Source: H.P. Kraus, Cimelia: catalogue 165 (1983), no. 5.

Dix siècles de livres français (July 9 to October 2, 1949) (vol. 1, fol.1 (not known if vol. 2 exhibition))
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lucerne, July 9 to October 2, 1949
A Thousand Years of the Bible: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts (January 15 to March 31, 1991) (vol. 2, fols. 86v-87)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), January 15 to March 31, 1991
Medieval Beasts (May 1 to July 29, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 1 to July 29, 2007

Sotheby's, London. Valuable Illuminated Manuscripts, Printed Books, Autograph Letters, and Historical Documents (Lady Ludlow Sale). December 16, 1940, p. 62-63, lot 425.

von Seidlitz, Woldemar. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 7 (1884), p. 86, no. 72.

Sotheby's, London. Catalogue of Ninety-One Manuscripts on Vellum from the Hamilton Collection. May 23, 1889, p. 11, lot 7.

Quaritch, Bernard. Facsimiles of Illustrations in Biblical and Liturgical Manuscripts executed in various countries during the XI-XVI centuries now in the possession of Bernard Quaritch (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1892), pp. 11-12, pls. 14-17.

Bourgeois, Pierre, and Julien Cain, eds. Dix siècles de livres français, exh. cat. (Lucerne: Musée des beaux-arts de Lucerne, 1949), no. 27, pl. 7.

La Librarie de Charles V, exh. cat. (Paris: Bibliothe`que National, 1968), pp. 105-6, no. 184, pp. 113-14, no. 197, pp. 119-20, no. 206.

Sneddon, Clive R. "The 'Bible du XIIIe Siecle': Its Medieval Public in the Light of Its Manuscript Tradition." In The Bible and Medieval Culture. W. Lourdaux and D. Verhelst, eds. (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1979), pp. 127-40.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), pp. 199-200, no. 120, figs. 120a-120c.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 77, ill.

Zier, Mark A. "Peter Comestor." In Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Joseph R. Strayer, ed. Vol. 9 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1987), pp. 513-514.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 2nd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), p. 77, ill.

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), fig. 19.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Illuminated Manuscripts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 60-61, no. 24, ill., entry by Thomas Kren.

Warner, Marina. "Megan Jenkinson: Making Her Way Through the Palace of Memory."In Under the Aegis: The Virtues. Megan Jenkinson, ed. (Auckland: Fortuna Press, 1997), pp. 7-19, ill.

Gasnault, Pierre. "Charles-Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre et la bibliothèque du couvent des Minimes de Tonnerre." In Du copiste au collectionneur. Mélanges d'histoire des textes et des bibliothèques en l'honneur d'André Vernet. Bibliologia 18 (1998), p. 611n90.

Gasnault, Pierre. "Un nouveau manuscrit ayant appartenu a Charles-Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre (St-Pétersbourg, Fr. F.v. XV)."Scriptorium 53, no. 2 (1999), p. 340.

Layne, Sara Shatford. "Subject Access to Art Images." In Introduction to Art Image Access: Issues, Tools, Standards, Strategies. Murtha Baca, ed. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2002), pp. 6-7, fig. 5.

Escobedo, Libby Karlinger. "Heroines, Wives, and Mothers: Depicting Women in the Bible Historiale and the Morgan Picture Bible."In Between the Picture and the Word: Manuscript Studies from the Index of Christian Art. Hourihane Calum, ed. (Princeton: Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, 2005), pp. 100-11, figs. 15, 133, 149.

Kren, Thomas. French Illuminated Manuscripts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), pp. xv-xvi, xxix, 45-46, ill.

Andås, Margrete S. "Art and Ritual in the Liminal Zone." In The Medieval Cathedral of Trondheim: Architectural and Ritual Constructions in their European Contexts. Margrete Syrstad Andås, et al eds. Ritus et Artes 3 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), p. 77.

Rosenberg, Gary D. "The measure of man and landscape in the Renaissance and Scientific Revolution." In The Revolution in Geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Gary D. Rosenberg, ed. (Boulder, CO: The Geological Society of America, 2009), pp. 13-15, fig. 1a.

Morrison, Elizabeth, and Anne D. Hedeman, eds. Imagining the Past in France: History in Manuscript Painting, 1250-1500 (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), pp. 95, under no. 2, entry by Elizabeth Morrison; pp. 166-68, no. 22, ill., entry by Elizabeth Morrison; p. 177, under no. 25, entry by Anne D. Hedeman; p. 219, under no. 36, entry by Elizabeth Morrison.

Scott, Margaret. Fashion in the Middle Ages (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), pp. 23, 33, fig. 18.

Krell, Alan. Burning Issues: Fire in Art and the Social Imagination (London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2011), pp. 8, 11, fig. 3.