Preserved today in New York: 8 sheets of the opulently decorated *Picture Bible of King Louis IX of France*

Picture Bible of King Louis

Paris (France) — Around 1230

Picture Bible of King Louis

Picture Bible of King Louis

Paris (France) — Around 1230

  1. King Louis IX of France (1214-70) commissioned one of the all-round most beautiful, magnificent, and opulent Gothic works

  2. The image of the young King and his mother in a full-page miniature indicates that it may have been a primer

  3. 8 magnificent folios were separated from the original manuscript in the 16th century and rebound together

Die Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen (Normal Edition)

Petrarca: Trionfi - Spain Codex

New Jerusalem

After the Devil is defeated and evil ended, Christ’s earthly kingdom is established and the New Jerusalem descends upon a high mountain. An angel takes John there to marvel at it: “Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.” (Rev. 21:11-12)

Picture Bible of King Louis

Alternative Titles:
  • Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Imageof
Edition available
Ask for an offer!
  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

King Louis IX (1226-1270), also known as Louis the Saint, is the only canonized French monarch and is considered to be one of the most beloved kings of medieval France. Numerous famous illuminated manuscripts are connected to the 13th century monarch, among them is the Picture Bible of King Louis, 8 magnificent folios of which were separated from the original manuscript in the 16th century and rebound together. It belongs among the moralizing Bibles of the period and features a fixed image program whereby eight picture medallions are presented per page in four pairs and accompanied by text.

Picture Bible of Saint Louis

The sumptuous Bible made for Louis IX the Saint has been known for centuries under the name of Biblia rica (”Rich Bible”) for its luxury decoration. The Picture Bible of King Louis was transferred to Toledo during the lifetime of the King (1226–1270) where 8 folios were taken out for unknown reasons in the 16th century and rebound separately in leather. They have been kept in the Pierpont Library in New York since 1906.

Radiant Pictures in Gold

The overall impression of this Bible manuscript is that of a lavishly decorated and gilded picture book, which is accessible even without reading the accompanying text. This codex thus belongs to a type of manuscripts unique to the early 13th century, the so-called Bible moralisée or “moralizing Bibles”. These Bible manuscripts, with their wealth of miniatures, conveyed a whole universe of picture narrative in the Middle Ages.

A Stately Picture Bible

A characteristic feature of the moralizing Bibles of the early 13th century resides in the fact that both picture and text are always well balanced. Bible text and Bible commentary, Bible illustration and commentary illustration, appear side by side in a common context. As every text passage is explained by its own commentary, every Bible illustration is complete with a second, explanatory, moralizing illustration. Eight miniatures are displayed on each page, executed in bright colors on a gilded ground and all composed into medallions, forming blocks on artistically patterned grounds, and each flanked with four text sections in Latin on either side. The first seven leaves of the manuscript now in New York show and explain 56 selected biblical scenes from the last Book of the Bible, the Revelation according to Saint John. Besides the Four Gospels, the Apocalypse belongs among the biblical books with the richest iconographic tradition.

A Masterpiece of Gothic Illumination

The last folio of the New York fragment (fol. 8r) presents a special picture. The full-page, richly gilded miniature contains a twofold allusion to the manuscript: the royal couple in the upper half might be presumed to be the patrons of the Bible, Blanche of Castile and her son Saint Louis. In the lower half, a cleric, probably the iconographer of the work, gives the scribe the necessary instructions. This illustration reveals the true accomplishment of the masters of illumination. Each detail in the faces of the figures is discernible, the noble pale complexion of the queen, the juvenile, fresh and red cheeks of the king, even the newly grown hair of the tonsured priest and the beard of the scribe. Their clothing is also depicted in the minutest detail. The imitation of the antique style is accomplished in the design of the clothing, the poses, and gestures of the figures, making this dedication picture a classic example of this style of painting. This depiction of a young Saint Louis and his mother indicates that this codex may well have been a primer for the young French king.

Medallion Masterpieces

The picture medallions are equally fine examples of the masterly work of the painters. They chose a dark blue and orange red in all shades as predominant colors and added flashing gold in the backgrounds. Red clothing but also black and brown monk’s cowls provide a good contrast. Even the layout contributes to the preciousness of this manuscript. Its pages are of impressive size and as the lavishly applied colors show through the page, they were painted and written upon only one side. This meant double parchment consumption and thus twice the usual material cost. The expensive decoration of this illustrated Bible leads us to assume that the manuscript was made for a high-ranking personality and might have served as a textbook for the young King Louis. Theological use may be excluded because theologically important passages are missing. Such picture Bibles, which were dominated by a moralizing exegesis, were mainly intended for a lay public.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen
Size / Format
20 pages / 37.5 x 26.2 cm
Date
Around 1230
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
56 picture-medaillons, 1 full-page miniature, illustrations and ornamentation rich in gold
Previous Owners
Die Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen (Normal Edition)

Picture Bible of King Louis

Patron Portrait

The last page of this splendid fragment serves as a visual colophon and is the closest indication we have of who commissioned it. It is divided into two registers framed by architectures and depicted with red, green, and blue. The whole page is backed by burnished gold and these backgrounds are embossed with patterns.

The upper register presents a queen and a young beardless king and although there is no clear indication of who they are, it is believed to be Blanche de Castile and her son, the future King Louis IX. Below them and smaller in size due to their lower status, we get a glimpse of the book’s production. To the left, a tonsured monk is directing the scribe to the right and the manuscript itself is identifiably by its distinct page layout.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Picture Bible of King Louis“

Die Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen (Normal Edition)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Picture Bible of King Louis – Ms M.240 – Morgan Library & Museum (New York, USA)
Imageof

Die Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen (Normal Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1995
Limited Edition
980
Binding
Vellum imitation
Commentary
1 volume (100 pages) by H.-W. Stork
Languages: German, English

Explaining the universal approach taken by Moralized Bibles requires a comment from a theological and an exegetic point of view, but also from the angles of philology, iconography and the history of art. To meet these requirements, the scholarly commentary edited by Hans-Walter Stork offers first a transcription and translation of both text and commentary in Latin. Then the holistic composition is placed in the context of contemporary Apocalypse exegesis. The art historic contribution examines the New York fragment in context with other Moralized Bibles produced in the era of Saint Louis.

Commentary by H.-W. Stork (German/English), 100 pp., 9 illustrations, 28,3 x 40,2 cm.
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Die Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen (Real Gold Edition)
Imageof

Die Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen (Real Gold Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1995
Limited Edition
250
Binding
Bound in blind embossed leather, commentary volume cloth. Facsimile in a cassette (cloth).
Commentary
1 volume (100 pages) by H.-W. Stork
Languages: German, English

Explaining the universal approach taken by Moralized Bibles requires a comment from a theological and an exegetic point of view, but also from the angles of philology, iconography and the history of art. To meet these requirements, the scholarly commentary edited by Hans-Walter Stork offers first a transcription and translation of both text and commentary in Latin. Then the holistic composition is placed in the context of contemporary Apocalypse exegesis. The art historic contribution examines the New York fragment in context with other Moralized Bibles produced in the era of Saint Louis.

Commentary by H.-W. Stork (German/English), 100 pp., 9 illustrations, 28,3 x 40,2 cm.
More Information
All folios are cut according to the original.
Regular price without login (like new)950 €
Login for a Better Price!
  1. Matching Works
  2. Matching Background Articles

Matching Works

Gutenberg's Bible - The 42 Lined Bible (Codex Berlin)

Gutenberg's Bible - The 42 Lined Bible (Codex Berlin)

A milestone in the history of mankind: the most beautiful edition of Gutenberg's famous Bible, richly decorated with gold

Experience More
Bibel der Barmherzigkeit

Bibel der Barmherzigkeit

The symbiosis of a modern Bible and old book art: a splendid household bible furnished with 350 examples of medieval illumination

Experience More

Matching Background Articles

Publisher