A gift from the Emperor Charles the Bald to the Pope: the most comprehensive picture cycle of all the Carolingian Bibles preserved with 4 full-page miniatures, 35 incipit pages, and 91 historiated initials

Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX

Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX

Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX

  1. A splendid gift from Charles the Bald (823-877) to Pope John VIII (d. 882) on the occasion of his imperial coronation

  2. The décor of the manuscript is clearly meant to testify to the power and sophistication of the Frankish emperors

  3. It features purple backgrounds, gold and silver inks, and the most extensive image cycle of any surviving Carolingian Bible

Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX

Alternative Titles:
  • Bibbia di San Paolo
Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX – Abbazia di San Paolo fuori le Mura (Rome, Italy)
Imageof
Regular price without login (like new)15,900 €
Login for a Better Price!
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Biblia Sacra, the most lavishly adorned surviving Carolingian Bible, is distinguished by its 24 full-page miniatures, 35 decorative incipit pages, 91 historiated initials, and 4 decorative canon tables. It contains the Vulgate in its entirety with both Testaments. Also known as the Bibbia di San Paolo or Bible of San Paolo fuori le Mura, it is named for its residence, the Abbey of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, where it was moved during the reign of Pope Gregory VII (ca. 1015-85). Originating from ca. 870-875, the magnificent manuscript was gifted by Charles the Bald (823-877) to Pope John VIII (d. 882) on the occasion of his imperial coronation in Rome on Christmas night, 875. This marvelous Carolingian Bible is an iconic milestone of medieval illumination.

Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX

The most opulent surviving Carolingian Bible and one of the great highlights of medieval illumination: the Biblia Sacra. It contains the entire Vulgate – both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, which are adorned by 24 full-page miniatures, 35 decorative incipit pages, 91 historiated initials, and 4 decorative canon tables. Testaments. Also known as the Bibbia di San Paolo or Bible of San Paolo fuori le Mura, it is named for its residence, the Abbey of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, where it was moved during the reign of Pope Gregory VII (ca. 1015-85). Originating from ca. 870-875, the magnificent manuscript was gifted by Charles the Bald (823-877) to Pope John VIII (d. 882) on the occasion of his imperial coronation in Rome on Christmas night, 875. The work is contained in a gorgeous 17th century binding of red leather with gilded metal fittings and writing.

Incredible Illumination

The décor of the manuscript is clearly meant to testify to the power and sophistication of the Frankish emperors who dominated 9th century Europe. The opening words of chapters are written in gold and silver inks on purple-dyed backgrounds. The texts are arranged in two columns framed by acanthus leaves and are adorned with elaborate initials, while the canon tables are arranged in beautiful arcades with figural ornamentation. The full-page miniatures precede various sections of the book, and although the miniatures preceding the Book of Job, the 24 remaining miniatures constitute the most extensive image cycle of any surviving Carolingian Bible. These images include a dedication portrait of Charles the Bald, portraits of St. Jerome and the Four Evangelists, 14 scenes from the Old Testament, a Christ in Majesty, and a miniature each for Acts, Epistles of Paul, and the Book of Revelation.

Carolingian Collaboration

The Biblia Sacra was created at Charles’ court school and bears resemblances to other works that Charles commissioned from Reims and Tours and likely involved scribes, miniaturists, and illuminators from those schools. The image program is firmly footed in the artistic tradition established by his grandfather Charlemagne (742-814) and features distinct echoes of Late Antiquity. A team of scribes from the scriptorium of Archbishop Hincmar of Reims (845-882) headed by a certain Benedictine monk named Ingobert, who is referred to in the dedication poem, is responsible for painstakingly putting the biblical text to parchment. Despite the incredible refinement of the miniatures, the artists responsible for them remain anonymous, allowing the artistry of the manuscript to speak for itself.

Two Restorations

The necessity to preserve this historic codex was recognized in the 17th century, when the specimen was already 800 years old. Thus, it underwent its first restoration in 1646, whereby the codex was rebound and blank sheets were added at the beginning and end to further protect the work in addition to its splendid new gilded red leather binding. The second restoration occurred between 1970 and 1981, during which time both the folios and baroque binding were refurbished. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated 17th and 20th century bibliophiles and artisans, the more than 1,100-year-old manuscript has survived into the 21st century in surprisingly good condition, much to the joy of art-lovers and researchers alike.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Bibbia di San Paolo

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX“

Bibbia di San Paolo
Biblia Sacra - Codex Membranaceus Saeculi IX – Abbazia di San Paolo fuori le Mura (Rome, Italy)
Imageof

Bibbia di San Paolo

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Editalia – Rome
Regular price without login (like new)15,900 €
Login for a Better Price!
  1. Matching Works
  2. Matching Background Articles

Matching Works

Goslar Gospels

Goslar Gospels

Elements from the Romanesque, Gothic, and Byzantine periods: a masterpiece of stylistic pluralism from Germany

Experience More
Hitda Codex

Hitda Codex

Made in Cologne, commissioned by Abbess Hidta: 58 large-format scenes of Biblical history in the Ottonian style

Experience More

Matching Background Articles

Publisher