Romanesque Bible of Burgos

Romanesque Bible of Burgos

Scriptorium of the Monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña (Burgos, Spanien) — ca. 1175

The fragments of a magnificent, erstwhile three-volume Bible: a major work of Spanish illumination with interconnecting elements of Romanesque and Gothic art

  1. This Bible with innovative miniatures and beautiful calligraphy is considered a primary work of 12th century Spanish illumination

  2. The surviving fragments (from three original volumes) charmingly combine the Romanesque and Gothic styles

  3. Romanesque elements, like the flowing garment folds, are mixed with Gothic Chiaroscuro shading

Romanesque Bible of Burgos

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Romanesque Bible of Burgos

A groundbreaking miniature made the so-called Bible of Burgos a main work of 12th century European illumination. Next to the innovative depiction of the Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Paradise, countless additional miniatures and initials in the codex from 1175 attest to the progressiveness of the Castilian artists in the scriptorium of San Pedro de Cardeña. The only surviving volume of the original three books enchants not only with its significant miniatures—sometimes typically Romanesque, sometimes already pointing to Gothic illumination. The gorgeous Carolingian script in black and red lends the Bible of Burgos an additional characteristic that makes it one of the most outstanding works of the Late Romanesque.

Romanesque Bible of Burgos

A groundbreaking miniature made the so-called Bible of Burgos a main work of 12th century European illumination. Next to the innovative depiction of the Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Paradise, countless additional miniatures and initials in the codex from 1175 attest to the progressiveness of the Castilian artists in the scriptorium of San Pedro de Cardeña. The only surviving volume of the original three books enchants not only with its significant miniatures—sometimes typically Romanesque, sometimes already pointing to Gothic illumination. The gorgeous Carolingian script in black and red lends the Bible of Burgos an additional characteristic that makes it one of the most outstanding works of the Late Romanesque.

Castile – European Center of Illumination

Spanish illumination reached new heights in the 12th century. Whether on account of the grandiose Beatus codices or other manuscripts with religious content, the scriptoria of Castile were trailblazers in the innovative artistic furnishing of precious books. The scriptorium of the monastery of San Pedro de Cardeña was counted thereby among the most important sites of this artistic production. With the famous Cardeña Beatus (ca. 1180), the miniaturists of this scriptorium entered into art history. One of the artists was also likely involved in the Romanesque Bible of Burgos, which probably originated ca. 1175 in San Pedro de Cardeña. Another possible point of origin for the codex could be the royal Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas near Burgos. Today, one of the original three volumes of the book survives. This is supplemented by two surviving fragments of the third part, which were bound in another codex from the holdings of the abbey.

The Splendor of the Late Romanesque

The codex, in an impressive format of 53 x 37 cm, assembles some of the highpoints of miniature painting of the Spanish Middle Ages or a late phase of the Romanesque on a total of 404 pages. The artists of Burgos united numerous stylistic characteristics in their pictures, which are sometimes typical for the time and innovatively point to the oncoming Gothic at others. Typical for the Romanesque style are the often overlong or very short figures and the flowing folds of the garments. On the other hand, the oft-discernable parallel folds are a Spanish characteristic. The miniatures, in their splendid colors and forms, offer a true firework for the eyes of the beholder and allowed the late phase of the great illumination of the Romanesque period to reach a final highpoint.

Unique Miniatures

The miniature of the Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Paradise are exceptional for art history. The scene on a luminous gold background is only partially colored, producing an unbelievable strong effect in the miniature. The Chiaroscuro painting already points to Gothic art. Everything has been worked-through ornamentally: the snake that entwines itself around the tree, the crowns of the trees, and the columns, which frame the miniature to the right and left. This representation is considered to be one of the most interesting and significant miniatures of European art during this epoch! Furthermore, the image pages, which are depicted in two registers from the Book of Genesis, are adorned with ornamental friezes. These show a discernable influence from insular illumination due to their artfully braided ornaments riddled with nude people and animals. Additionally, numerous initials with figurative and ornamental content append the lavish pictorial adornment of the codex. This variety of influences and new stylistic discoveries constitute the particular allure of the Romanesque Bible of Burgos, which has gone down in art history as a unique work of this great time in Spanish illumination.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Biblia Románica de Burgos
Romanische Bibel von Burgos
Size / Format
404 pages / 53.0 × 37.0 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
ca. 1175
Style
Language
Script
Gothic Textura

Available facsimile editions:
Romanesque Bible of Burgos – Biblioteca Pública del Estado (Burgos, Spain) / Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real de las Huelgas (Burgos, Spain)
Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2005
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Detail Picture

Romanesque Bible of Burgos

Expulsion from Paradise

This Spanish miniature depicting Adam and Eve accepting the forbidden fruit from the serpent before being confronted by God is regarded as one of the most interesting examples of 12th century illumination. English influences, the figures and interlace frames in particular, are combined with Spanish elements like garments with parallel folds. It is the most exceptional specimen of Castilian Romanesque art and a true unicum among contemporary miniatures that seems to announce the coming of Gothic art.

Biblia Románica de Burgos
Single Page

Romanesque Bible of Burgos

Adoration of the Magi and Genealogy of Christ

Set within an architectural frame with five columns and four Moorish-style horseshoe arches, this page presents a fascinating miniature of the Adoration of the Magi surrounded by medallions written in red ink representing the genealogy of Christ as well as a neatly written column of text.

The remarkable miniature is uniquely designed with the Three Magi kneeling and presenting their gifts on the left, two of them with their feet protruding into the frame. Joseph is separated from the rest of the Holy Family and is depicted on the earthly plane with the Magi and the animals while the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus are enthroned in a quatrefoil. A chorus of angels in the upper-right corner watches as homage is paid to the King of Kings.

Biblia Románica de Burgos
Facsimile Editions

#1 Biblia Románica de Burgos

Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2005

Publisher: Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2005
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Commentary: 1 volume by Manuel Zabalza Duque and Joaquín Yarza Luaces
Language: Spanish
1 volume: This facsimile is not complete. A selection of 33 folios from the original manuscript is reproduced Partial reproduction of the 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
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