St Paul Giving his Letter to the Ephesians historiated initial on a leaf from the Chudleigh Bible, illuminated manuscript in Latin on vellum.[France (probably northeastern, perhaps Arras), 13th century (2nd quarter)]



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Illuminated with a large historiated initial with a long descender in blue and red with white tracery on gold grounds, and an inhabited initial in red and blue, with bird- or lizard-like creatures in two compartments on gold grounds, chapter initials alternately red or blue, flourished.

Single leaf, c. 285×190mm, written in gothic script below top line in two columns of 54 lines (c.185 x 120mm), medieval ink leaf signature ‘a’ in the lower outer corner. the margins somewhat dirty and lightly cockled, but the initials in fine condition.

The fine initial shows St Paul in prison, holding a book and handing an inscribed scroll (his epistle) to a monk or deacon and a layman, presumably the Ephesians. 

The parent volume is referred to briefly by Robert Branner (Manuscript Painting in Paris During the Reign of Saint Louis: A Study of Styles, 1977, p. 30 n. 17) as being closely related to his ‘Alexander Atelier’, which he associated with Arras. Iconographic connections can be found with another Bible formerly owned by Saint-Vaast, Arras, and manuscripts attributed to Tournai (Brussels, KBR, ms 2523, and the Glazier-Rylands Bible). Arras and Tournai are only about 35 miles apart, so it seems likely that the Chudleigh Bible was either made in this region, or at least that its artist trained there. 

The text comprises Galatians 5:3-(end), the prologues, and Ephesians 1:1-4:6. The text of the Chudleigh Bible pre-dates the standardisation that came about as a result of the dissemination of the Paris Bible: Galatians chapter 6 originally began at what is now Galatians 5:25 (marked with the chapter number ‘VI’ in Roman numerals in the adjacent margin), and the book was apparently also divided into 12 chapters by Arabic numerals in red ink before someone finally marked the ‘true’ beginning of chapter 6 with a black ink ‘c VI’ and crossed-through the superseded ‘VI’. 

The present leaf is therefore from an interesting example of the sort of one-volume Bibles being produced in France between the heyday of grand romanesque institutional lectern Bibles and pocket-sized personal Paris Bibles. For further discussion, including a list of sister leaves, etc., see Peter Kidd, The McCarthy Collection, III: French Miniatures (London, 2021), no. 17 pp. 69–73, citing the present leaf at p. 69. 


 1. Owned by a monastery or church, with medieval notes in red referring to the liturgical readings of the Psalms, etc., on other leaves; on the present leaf, in the margin next to Galatians 5:16 is a note that this is the beginning of the reading for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost: ‘Do(mini)ca 14 p(ost) P(entecosten)’.

2. Charles Oswald Hugh Clifford (1887–1962), 11th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh, sold as ‘The Property of the Lord Clifford of Chudleigh’ at Sotheby’s, 7 December 1953, lot 51; bought by Maggs for £680.

3. George Armin Goyder (1908–1997), businessman, author, social philosopher and bibliophile: sold anonymously at Sotheby’s, 8 July 1970, lot 104; bought for £1,600 by: 

4. ‘Marshall, F.L.’, doubtless the collector Fielding Lewis Marshall.

5. Sold anonymously at Christie’s, 11 July 1974, lot 18 (after an exhibition and sale at Sotheby's in previous months fell through, and a sale of the collection at Bonhams subseqently, in March of the same year); bought by ‘R. Braunschweig’ for £3,600. Broken-up at an unknown date before 1989.  

Stock Code: 246202

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