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Bologna, Italy (Place Created)
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment covered with oak boards backed in white alum-tawed pigskin
Ms. 107 (2011.23)
Closed: 27 × 19.7 cm (10 5/8 × 7 3/4 in.)
Produced for the use of a Dominican monastery, the Abbey Bible is one of the earliest and finest in a distinguished group of north Italian Bibles from the second half of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Most of these are associated with Bologna, one of the major centers for the production of Gothic illuminated Bibles. Its illumination is a superb example of the influence of the Byzantine style of the eastern Mediterranean that played a dominant role in Italian painting and manuscript illumination in the second half of the thirteenth century.
The illumination and marginal vignettes of the Abbey Bible are remarkable for their liveliness and delicacy. Sensitively depicted facial expressions, rare among Bibles of this era, and dynamic compositions, reveal the artist to be a skilled storyteller.
While filled with amusing figures and spirited pen flourishes, the Bible was nevertheless intended for serious use and study. The text contains many edits, corrections, and amendments, suggesting a university origin for the manuscript. The book appears to be made for a Dominican monastery and devout Dominicans and Franciscans appear prominently in its imagery.
mid 13th century
Commissioned for a Dominican Monastery, Possibly Cathedral (Ascoli Piceno)
Ellis & Co. (Bond Street, London.), sold to C.W. Dyson Perrins, 1913.
1913 - 1958
Charles William Dyson Perrins, English, 1864 - 1958
Source: Perrins collection sticker, numbered 152.
1958 - 1959
Estate of Charles William Dyson Perrins, English, 1864 - 1958 [sold, "Catalogue of Forty-Six Western and Oriental Illuminated Manuscripts. The Property of the Late C.W. Dyson Perrins", Sotheby's, London, December 1, 1959, lot 61, to Maggs Bros. Ltd.]
1959 - 1965
Maggs Bros. Ltd. (London), sold to Major J.R. Abbey, September 19, 1965.
1965 - 1969
Major John Roland Abbey, English, 1894 - 1969
1969 - 1989
Estate of Major John Roland Abbey, English, 1894 - 1969 [sold, "Catalogue of the Celebrated Library of the Late Major J.R. Abbey. The Eleventh and Final Portion...", Sotheby's, London, June 19, 1989, lot 3013, to Bernard Quaritch on behalf of the Arcana Foundation.]
1989 - 2011
Arcana Foundation [sold, "The Arcana Collection: Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts and Incunabula, Part I", Christie's, London, July 7, 2010, lot 28, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]
Third International Art Treasures Exhibition (March 2 to April 29, 1962) (fols. 3v-4)
- Victoria and Albert Museum (London), March 2 to April 29, 1962
Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination 1200-1350 (December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012) (fols. 3v-4, fols. 194v-195)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 13, 2011 to May 13, 2012
The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages (August 28, 2012 to February 5, 2013) (fols. 223v - 224)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 28, 2012 to February 5, 2013
Heaven and Earth: Byzantine Illumination at the Cultural Crossroads (March 25 to June 22, 2014) (fols. 194v-195)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 25 to June 22, 2014
Sanctity Pictured: The Art of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Renaissance Italy (October 31, 2014 to January 25, 2015) (fols. 223v-224)
- Frist Center for the Visual Arts (Nashville), October 31, 2014 to January 25, 2015
Artful Words: Calligraphy in Illuminated Manuscripts (December 18, 2018 to April 7, 2019) (fols. 96v-97, fols. 185v-186)
- The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 18, 2018 to April 7, 2019
Warner, George. Descriptive Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts in the Library of C. W. Dyson Perrins. 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1920), vol. 1, pp. 138-145, no. 51; vol. 2, unpaginated, pls. 53-55.
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Maggs Bros., London. Manuscripts, Rare Books, Oriental Miniatures. Autumn 1960, pp. 16, 84-85, lot 78, ill.
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Daneu Lattanzi, Angela. "Ancora sulla scuola miniaturistica dell'Italia meridionale Sveva: Suo contributo allo sviluppo della miniatura bolognese," La Bibliofilia 66 (1964), p. 150.
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Lemarié, Joseph. "L'iconographie de Saint Chromace d'Aquilée." Aquileia nostra, 45-46 (1974-1975), cols. 683-84.
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Euw, Anton von, and Joachim M. Plotzek. Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig. 4 vols. (Cologne: Schnütgen-Museum, 1979-1985), vol. 1 (1979), p. 106.
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Ciardi Duprè dal Poggetto, Maria Grazia. "La miniatura nei libri francescani." Francesco d'Assisi, Documenti e Archivi, Codici e Biblioteche, Miniature (Milan: Electa, 1982), p. 325.
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Eleen, Luba. The Illustration of the Pauline Epistles in French and English Bibles of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), pp. 29, 32n187, 33n190-191, 34, 35n198, 77, 91, 94, 99-100, 109, pls. 195, 224.
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