Pamplona Bible

Pamplona Bible

Navarra (Spain) — Around 1200

Decorated with almost 1,000 miniatures but irrevocably exposed to decay: one of the most beautiful picture Bibles of the Middle Ages, created for the King of Navarre

  1. One of the greatest pre-13th century biblical image cycles originated in Spanish Navarre ca. 1200

  2. 976 mostly half-page and some full-page miniatures literally put a face on the Bible

  3. With just a few lines of text per image, the focus is clearly on the pictorial retelling of biblical stories

Pamplona Bible

Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Pamplona Bible

One of the greatest pre–13th century biblical image cycles originated in the Spanish province of Navarra ca. 1200 with the Pamplona Bible. An unbelievable 976 predominantly half-page miniatures and some full-page miniatures portray the texts of the Old and New Testaments as well as the Apocrypha and saints’ legends on 542 pages. King Sancho VII of Navarra (1154–1234) commissioned the parchment manuscript, which he probably used himself as a moralistic handbook, under the direction of the cleric Petrus Ferrandus in the royal chancellery in Pamplona. Aside from the exceptional wealth of imagery, the Bible distinguished itself through its unusual format. There are only two other Bibles worldwide that are known to require clarifications of no more than two or three lines.

Pamplona Bible

A parchment manuscript originated ca. 1200 in the Spanish province of Navarra with an impressive wealth of imagery. The Pamplona Bible is enriched by 542 pages with 976 mostly half-page and sometimes full-page miniatures of the text of the New and Old Testaments as well as the Apocrypha and saints’ legends. 61 of them are additionally adorned with gold. King Sancho VII of Navarra (1154–1234), given the epithet “the Strong” because of his unusual height of 2.2 meters (7 feet 3 inches), commissioned the picture Bible and presumably used it personally as a moralizing handbook. The precious manuscript was probably manufactured in the royal chancellery in Pamplona under the direction of the cleric Petrus Ferrandus.

An Exceptionally Large Picture Cycle

The Pamplona Bible represents a very special manuscript, because it contains, along with another Bible from Amiens, the largest pre–13th century biblical picture cycle ranging from Creation to Judgement Day. Additionally, the drawings are exceptionally finely outlined with black ink and painted with watercolors. The scenes themselves are highly compressed and dispense with unnecessary details, which explains the invariably limited number of figures. What makes these reduced compositions interesting are the elaborate gestures as well as the dramatic poses of the persons depicted. Thus, they bow, extend their hands to one another, or let their shoulders hang dispiritedly.

Rare Format

The great richness of imagery comes along with the format of the Bible. In order to have enough space for the half-page miniatures, each of them has only a two- or three-line explanation at their disposal, which are found on the top and bottom of the page. Only three manuscripts of this kind are known to exist in the entire world. The Pamplona Bible from the collection of the Princes of Oettingen-Wallenstein is a manuscript from the Amiens State Library and the New York Public Library. Since the pictures of the Bibles in Amiens and Pamplona are so similar, researchers hypothesize that both of them were potentially furnished by the same illustrators.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Pamplona Bilderbibel
Pamplona Bibel
Biblia Mirada
Bibbia di Pamplona
Biblia del Rey Sancho
Biblia primera de Pamplona
Size / Format
542 pages / 20.5 × 14.7 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
Around 1200
Style
Language
Illustrations
976 full- and half-page miniatures (61 with gold decotation), illustrating the Old and New Testament
Content
Contains the Old and New Testaments as well as representations of numerous saints, plus an appendix of apocryphal texts
Previous Owners
Charles Philippe Campion de Tersan (1736–1819)
Louis, Prince of Oettingen-Wallerstein (1791–1870)

Available facsimile editions:
Pamplona Bible – Cod.I.2.4° 15 – Oettingen-Wallersteinsche Bibliothek (Augsburg, Germany)
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2005
Limited Edition: 980 copies (in cooperation with Eikon Editors)

Pamplona Bibel
Eikon Editores – Madrid, 2005
Limited Edition: 980 copies (in cooperation with Coron Verlag)
Detail Picture

Pamplona Bible

Moses Parting the Red Sea

After the Israelites fled from the oppression of Pharaoh, they found themselves crowded on the banks of the Red Sea and surrounded. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex. 14:21-22)

Pamplona Bibel
Single Page

Pamplona Bible

The Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Stars

“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. ” (Gen: 1:16–18)

This is a miniature of the fourth day of Creation, which conceives of the heavens as a great circle filled with stars possessing between five and eight points. The sun and moon are both red, the large star inside the crescent moon may be the North Star. Whoever created this miniature was even kind enough to label these celestial bodies “sol”, “stelle”, and “luna” in addition to including the biblical text above.

Pamplona Bibel
Facsimile Editions

#1 Pamplona Bibel

Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2005
Pamplona Bible – Cod.I.2.4° 15 – Oettingen-Wallersteinsche Bibliothek (Augsburg, Germany)
Pamplona Bible – Cod.I.2.4° 15 – Oettingen-Wallersteinsche Bibliothek (Augsburg, Germany) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 2005
Limited Edition: 980 copies (in cooperation with Eikon Editors)
Binding: Bound in leather with silver clasps Black clamshell case with sterling medallion
Commentary: 1 volume (336 pages) by Gabriele Bartz, Günter Hägele, Luise Karl and Ulrich Hohoff
Languages: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Pamplona Bibel

Eikon Editores – Madrid, 2005

Publisher: Eikon Editores – Madrid, 2005
Limited Edition: 980 copies (in cooperation with Coron Verlag)
Binding: Bound in leather with silver clasps Black clamshell case with sterling medallion
Commentary: 1 volume (336 pages) by Gabriele Bartz, Günter Hägele, Luise Karl and Ulrich Hohoff
Languages: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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