Inventory / Immense Lectern Bible from Austria or Bohemia, ca. 1507, with a Miniature of King David and Abisag
Immense Lectern Bible from Austria or Bohemia, ca. 1507, with a Miniature of King David and Abisag
Immense Lectern Bible from Austria or Bohemia, ca. 1507, with a Miniature of King David and Abisag. Single folio on vellum. Austria or Bohemia, 1507: 410 mm x 270 mm (justification 307 mm x 204 mm). Double column, 34 lines. Foliated 41 in modern pencil in the upper right recto. Decoration: a large historiated initial E (approx. 95 mm x 90 mm) in blue on pale grounds depicting Abisag “serving” King David, who lies in a huge bed with green coverlet; a group of David’s retainers look on. The maiden Abisag wears a most elaborate costume with white polka dots. The group is situated in a grey vaulted space with Romanesque arches and windows. Text: This folio contains the end of 2 Samuel and beginning of 1 Kings (3 Kings in the medieval reckoning). David lies in bed dying. His men then search for a virgin who will sleep with David and warm him. The subject is quite unusual and not commonly encountered. This is a grand example of a late medieval lectern bible, exemplifying a trend in book production that gave rise to the Gutenberg Bible. In fact, the letter forms are so exacting because they imitated print. Curiously, this bible has rubricated chapter summaries. Condition: A satin in the outer margin on both sides, and hinge marks. A medieval repair affects the initial: the corner has been squared with a piece of vellum glue to the folio. Cuts and creases affect the perimeter of the initial, as depicted. Provenance: from the collection of Otto F. Ege, the Cleveland rare book dealer (d. 1951). He acquired one intact volume of this multi-volume manuscript, now Walters Art Gallery MS W.805 (dated 5 February 1507), along with a fragmentary second part, which he broke. This is the only illuminated folio from this bible known to us, although texts leaves do crop up occasionally (we offer one here); see S. Gwara, Otto Ege’s Manuscripts (Cayce, SC), Handlist 44 and 145.