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The Art of the Bible


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Introduction: One Thousand Years of Art and Beauty

The Bibles

1. The Golden Canon Tables
Canon Tables of Eusebius of Caesarea, in Greek Constantinople, 6th or 7th century [Turkey]
Glimpses of early Christian splendour in Constantinople

2. The Lindisfarne Gospels
The Four Gospels, in Latin, with added interlinear gloss in Old English
Lindisfarne, c. 700 (added gloss, Chester-le-Street, c. 970) [UK]
Spectacular Anglo-Saxon Ornament

3. The Vespasian Psalter
Psalter, in Latin, with interlinear gloss in Old English
Kent, 1st half of the 8th century [UK]
The Earliest Narrative Initials in Western Europe

4. The Harley Golden Gospels
The Four Gospels, in Latin
Aachen?, Carolingian Empire, c. 800 [UK]
The Gospels Written in Gold

5. The Canterbury Royal Bible
Bible, in Latin (incomplete, now comprising the Four Gospels only)
Canterbury, 1st quarter of the 9th century, [UK]
An Early Canterbury Bible

6. The Moutier-Granval Bible
Bible, in Latin
Tours, 2nd quarter of the 9th century [France]
Symbolic Figurative Art

7. The Lothar Psalter
Psalter, in Latin
Aachen, c. 842–55 [Germany]
An Imperial Psalter

8. The Aethelstan or Coronation Gospels
The Four Gospels, in Latin
Lobbes, south of Brussels, last quarter of the 9th century, or 1st quarter of the 10th century [Belgium]
A Royal Gift

9. Guest-Coutts New Testament
New Testament, in Greek
Constantinople, middle of 10th century
An Illuminated New Testament from Constantinople

10. The Harley Psalter
Psalter, in Latin (Psalms, incomplete)
Canterbury, 1st half of the 11th century
An Anglo-Saxon Masterpiece

11. The Old English Hexateuch
Hexateuch (Genesis-Joshua), in Old English
Canterbury, 2nd quarter of the 11th century
The Earliest Illustrated Western Vernacular Bible

12. The Harley Echternach Gospels
The Four Gospels, in Latin
Echternach, middle of the 11th century
Ottonian Imperial Style

13. The Tiberius Psalter
Psalter, in Latin, imperfect, with Old English gloss
Winchester, 2nd or 3rd quarter of the 11th century
A Grand Christological Cycle

14. Theodore Psalter
Psalter, in Greek
Constantinople, 1066
A Byzantine Visual Commentary on the Psalms

15. The Silos Apocalypse
Revelation and Beatus of Liébana’s commentary,
St Jerome’s commentary on Daniel, in Latin
Silos [Spain], 1091 (text) and 1109 (decoration)
A Spanish Vision of the Apocalypse

16. The Stavelot Bible
Bible, in Latin
Stavelot, near Liège, 1093–97
Monumental Art

17. The Egerton Gospel Lectionary
Gospel Lectionary, in Latin
Germany, c. 1100
Illuminating the Liturgy

18. The Burney Gospels
The Four Gospels, in Greek
Constantinople, 10th century (script) and 2nd quarter
of 12th century (portraits)
An Imperial Tetraevangelion

19. The Psalter of Queen Melisende
Psalter, in Latin
Jerusalem, between 1131 and 1143
[Middle East]
A Psalter for a Crusader Queen

20. The Winchester Psalter
Psalter, in Latin and French with the Apostles Creed
and some prayers in French
Winchester, England, middle of 12th century
An Illustrated Bilingual Psalter

21. The Worms Bible
Bible, in Latin
Frankenthal, near Worms, c. 1148
A Romanesque Giant Bible

22. The Floreffe Bible
Bible, in Latin
Meuse valley, 2nd or 3rd quarter of the 12th century
Visual Biblical Exegesis

23. The Arnstein Bible
Bible, in Latin
Arnstein, Germany, c. 1172
A Grand Monastic Bible

24. The Harley Greek Gospels
The Four Gospels, in Greek
Cyprus or Palestine, late 12th century
[Middle East]
A Gospels to Aid Devotion

25. Syriac Lectionary
Gospel Lectionary, in Syriac
Mosul, between 1216 and 1220
[Syria / Middle East]
A Syrian Visualization of the Gospels

26. The Harley Bible moralisée
Moralized Bible (Maccabees and the New Testament),
in Latin, Paris, 2nd quarter of 13th century
Royal Instruction

27. Apocalypse
Revelation, with extracts from the commentary
of Berengaudus, in Latin, imperfect
London or Westminster, c. 1260
An English Illustrated Apocalypse

28. Bolognese Bible
Bible, in Latin
Bologna, c. 1280–1300
Italian Splendour

29. Gospel Lectionary of the Sainte-Chapelle
Gospel Lectionary, in Latin
Paris, last quarter of 13th century
Picturing the Gospels in Medieval Paris

30. The Queen Mary Psalter
Psalter, in Latin
London?, 1st quarter of 14th century
Unprecedented Psalter Illustration

31. Welles Apocalypse
Revelation, with commentary in Anglo-Norman French,
bound with Peter of Peckham, La lumere as lais
England, c. 1310
Revelation in the Vernacular

32. Holkham Bible Picture Book
Bible Picture Book, with captions in Anglo-Norman French
London, c. 1320–30
The Bible in Pictures

33. The St Omer Psalter
Psalter, in Latin
Norfolk, c. 1330 (with later additions)
Glorious Marginal Imagery

34. Bible of Clement VII
Bible, in Latin
Naples, c. 1330–40
A Papal Bible

35. The Gospels of Tsar Ivan Alexander
The Four Gospels, in Slavonic of Bulgarian character
Turnovo (?), 1355–56
Slavonic Emulation of Byzantine Splendour

36. Bible historiale of Charles V
Bible historiale completée moyenne: Genesis to the Apocalypse, in French
Paris, 1357
The Bible as History

37. Paduan Bible Picture Book
Bibbia istoriata: Exodus to Joshua, in Italian
Padua, c. 1390–1400
The Old Testament in Pictures

38. King’s Biblia pauperum
Biblia pauperum
The Hague, c. 1395–1400
The Old Testament revealed in the New

39. The Great Bible of the Kings of England
Bible, in Latin
London, c. 1410–13
A Late Medieval Giant Bible

40. Bible historiale of Charles of France
Grande Bible historiale à prologues: Genesis to the Apocalypse
Paris, c. 1420
Learning Wisdom from the Bible

41. Dutch History Bible
Utrecht Bible: Genesis to Esther
Utrecht, c. 1440–45
Seeing Salvation in the Netherlands

42. Edward IV’s Bible historiale
Bible historiale: Tobit to Acts, in French
Bruges, 1470 (script) and c. 1479 (illumination)
A Bible fit for a King

43. The Gospels of Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga
The Four Gospels, in Greek
Rome, 1478
A Renaissance Cardinal’s Gospel book

44. Armenian Gospels
Four Gospels, in Armenian
Isfahan, 1608
[Middle East]
Painting the Gospels in Persia

45. Ethiopian Octateuch and Gospels
Octateuch, Four Gospels and Apostolic Canons, in classical Ethiopic (Ge'ez)
Gondar (?), late 17th century
Reviving Former Ethiopian splendour

Further Reading

About the Author

Dr Scot McKendrick is Head of Western Heritage Collections at the British Library, and Dr Kathleen Doyle is the Lead Curator, Illuminated Manuscripts at the same institution. Scot and Kathleen edited and contributed to 1,000 Years of Royal Books and Manuscripts (2013) and, with Professor John Lowden, Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination (2011), which was shortlisted for the William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History (2012). Together they wrote Bible Manuscripts: 1,400 Years of Scribes and Scripture (2007), and contributed to Sacred: Books of the Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam (2007).


'Sumptuous … spans 1,000 years and considers the history and significance of 45 illuminated biblical manuscripts, providing much insight into medieval Christian art' - Apollo

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