Close BB-4 Biblia Pauperum

[Edition III]. Incipit: ‘Legit(ur) in genesi . iij . cap(itul)o q(uod) dixit d(omi)n(us) serpenti super pect(us) tuu(m) gradier(is) . . .’ A cycle of 40 plates, each containing a picture of a New Testament or eschatological event flanked by two pictures of Old Testament prefigurations, surrounded by the busts of four prophets with auctoritates, two short lectiones based on Old Testament material, and a Leonine hexameter as a titulus for each of the three pictures. The Latin blockbook version of the Biblia pauperum, which in its original, late thirteenth-century form consists of some 34 or more picture ensembles ideally arranged on 17 pages, belongs to the ‘Western manuscript family’, which is thought to have originated in the Netherlands in the later fourteenth century and in which additional eschatological subjects are added at the end of the cycle. The principal manuscripts of this group are Cambridge Corpus Christi College, MS. 164; London BL, King’s MS. 5; Stowe MS. 7; Utrecht UB, cod. 373. Cf. Cornell, Biblia pauperum, 168–72; G. Schmidt, ‘Kings MS 5 and its Place in the History of the Biblia Pauperum’, in Biblia Pauperum: Kings MS 5, 21–123, at 62–3. The blockbook offers a distinctive recension of the Western family with numerous small changes and three new sets of pictures unique to the blockbook tradition (pls 19, 20, and 40). Schreiber distinguishes ten editions of the 40-plate blockbook, to which Kroll has added an eleventh, which can be divided into four groups deriving from editions I, IV, VIII, and X respectively; new editions within the four groups are defined on the basis of some, but not all, of the wood blocks having been recut. The clearest overview of the 40-plate blockbook editions is provided in the table devised by Kroll, ‘Beobachtungen’, 295. For the chiro-xylographic edition (Heidelberg copy), the two German editions, the 50-plate edition, and the sixteenth-century Italian edition entitled Opera nova contemplativa, see Schreiber, Manuel, IV 90–113. Edition III of the 40-plate blockbook is a close copy of edition I, but shares 8 plates (e–h, p–q, .e.–.f.) with edition II, which is represented by a single copy (Berlin SB, Libr. impr. rar. fol. 135). This group appears to be the second in the chronological sequence, most probably being based directly on a copy of edition IV, the most likely candidate to be the editio princeps. Here Kroll’s findings diverge from those of earlier scholarship, in which the first edition was thought to be edition I (Schreiber, Henry) or edition VIII (Musper). All the early editions of the Biblia pauperum appear to be Netherlandish. Their precise dating, however, is problematic and depends on a judgement of the relationship between the blockbooks and a group of northern Netherlandish illuminated manuscripts from c.1460, discussed by Smeyers, Koch, Henry, and Cardon–Smeyers; cf. Palmer, Berlin-Breslauer Sammelband, 46, 70–1 notes 26–7. For representative facsimiles of the blockbook editions, see Biblia Pauperum. Reproduced in Facsimile from One of the Copies in the British Museum, with an Historical and Bibliographical Introduction, ed. J. P. Berjeau (London, 1859) (hand-traced facsimile of edition I); Biblia Pauperum. Facsimile-Reproduction, getreu nach dem in der Erzherzoglich Albrecht’schen Kunst-Sammlung “Albertina” befindlichen Exemplar, ed. A. Einsle and J. Schönbrunner (Vienna, 1890) (edition VI); Biblia Pauperum. A Facsimile and Edition, ed. A. Henry (Aldershot, 1987) (edition I); The Bible of the Poor [Biblia Pauperum]. A Facsimile and Edition of the British Library Blockbook C.9 d.2. Translation and commentary by A. C. Labriola and J. W. Smeltz (Pittsburgh, Pa., 1990) (edition V); for others see below under BB-5 and BB-6. Transcriptions of the text are printed, on the basis of editions I and V respectively, by Henry, Biblia Pauperum, 152–8, and Labriola and Smeltz, The Bible of the Poor, 57–96. For a representative text from the manuscript tradition, edited from a witness close to the exemplar for the blockbook, see G. Schmidt, ‘The Texts of the Biblia pauperum Kings MS 5’, in Biblia Pauperum: Kings MS 5, 203–71.

refs. Meerman I 224–8; Dutuit I 70–100; Conway 1–10, 195–201; Schreiber, Manuel, IV 1–113; W. L. Schreiber, in Biblia pauperum. Nach dem einzigen Exemplare in 50 Darstellungen [früher in Wolfenbüttel, jetzt in der Bibliothèque Nationale], ed. P. Heitz and W. L. Schreiber (Strasbourg, 1903), 1–45; H. Cornell, Biblia pauperum (Stockholm, 1925); Hind I 230–42; G. Schmidt, Die Armenbibeln des 14. Jahrhunderts (Graz and Cologne, 1959); Donati, ‘Libri xilografici’, 215–21, 253–5; M. Smeyers, ‘De invloed der blokboekeditie van de Biblia pauperum op het getijdenboek van Maria van Vronensteyn’, in Bijdragen tot de geschiedenis van de grafische kunst opgedragen aan Prof. Dr. Louis Lebeer ter gelegenheid van zijn tachtigste verjaardag (Antwerp, 1975), 307–25; R. A. Koch, ‘New Criteria for Dating the Netherlandish “Biblia pauperum”’, in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss, ed. I. Lavin and J. Plummer (New York, 1977), I 253–89; A. Henry, ‘The Living Likeness: The Forty-page Blockbook Biblia pauperum and the Imitation of Images in Utrecht and Other Manuscripts’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 136 (1983), 124–36; Henry, Biblia Pauperum, 3–45; Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 402–5, 435–9; Henry, ‘The Iconography of the Forty-page blockbook Biblia pauperum: Form and Meaning’, in Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 263–88; Kroll, ‘Beobachtungen’; Palmer, Berlin-Breslauer Sammelband, 22–5; B. Cardon and M. Smeyers, ‘L’Emploi de gravures par les miniaturistes, un moyen de datation et de localisation des manuscrits enluminés. Le cas du Maître des Vederwolken’, in Le Dessin sous-jacent dans la peinture, ed. R. van Schoute and H. Verougstraete-Marcq (Louvain-la-neuve, 1989), 77–90; Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 402–5, 435–8; Palmer, Berlin-Breslauer Sammelband, 22–5; Palmer, review of Blockbücher des Mittelalters, Library, 6th series, 15 (1993), 143–7; Biblia Pauperum: Kings MS 5.

 [Netherlands, c.1460–3, impression Germany, c.1465–70]. Chancery folio.

 A complete copy of edition III has 40 leaves, all with woodcuts and xylographic text, signatures a–v, .a.–.v. Collation: [1–202]. One of 5 copies of this edition consisting only of the first 20 leaves and evidently issued without the second alphabet of signatures, the others in Innsbruck UB, Munich BSB, Strasbourg BNU, and Stuttgart LB; 6 complete copies with 40 leaves in Douai BM, London BL (Holkham copy), Manchester JRL, New York PML, Paris BnF, Christie’s London 19 Nov. 1991 (Ashburnham copy); imperfect copies in Cambridge Corpus Christi College (38 leaves) and The Hague MMW (22 leaves); fragments in Berlin KupferstichKab (1 leaf), Bloomington InUL (2 leaves), London BM (Print & Drawings) (3 leaves), London Sam Fogg (29 Nov. 1991, 2 leaves from the Wiblingen copy), New York PML (1 leaf), Paris BnF (5 leaves bound in with edition VIII, BB-5(2)), San Marino HEHL (6 leaves), Schweinfurt Otto-SchäferB (4 leaves from the Wiblingen copy), and the fragment formerly in the private collection of Victor von Klemperer in Dresden (1 leaf).

ills. T. H. Horne, An Introduction to the Study of Bibliography (London, 1814), I, frontispiece (Ashburnham copy); Schreiber, Manuel, VII pl. XLII (Stuttgart copy); Hind I 233 fig. 99 and 235 fig. 100 (Manchester copy and London BL fragment); Musper, ‘Urausgabe der ndl. Biblia pauperum’, ill. 5 (Stuttgart copy); Schäfer I 72 (colour pl. of the Schweinfurt copy Xylo-D); Catalogue One Hundred and Nine published on the Occasion of the Ninetieth Anniversary of the Firm (New York: Martin Breslauer, Inc., 1988), lot 19; Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 299 (Paris copy); F. de M. Oyens, in Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, Autograph Letters and Music (London: Christie’s, 29 Nov. 1995), lot 19, ills on pp. 34, 37, and 39; Text Manuscripts and Documents from 2200 BC to 1600 AD, Sam Fogg Rare Books, Cat. 16 (London, 1995), 126–7 no. 82 (colour pl.); Palmer, ‘Biblical Blockbooks’, ill. 11 (London BL/Holkham copy).

refs. Heinecken, Idée, 292–333 (five editions inadequately distinguished, ‘edition 3’?); Sotheby I 63 (‘edition 4’); Schreiber, Manuel, IV 4–5, 10–89 (‘edition III’); Hind I 236; BMC (reprint 1963) I 5; Kroll, ‘Beobachtungen’; CIBN I pp. xii–xiii; Oyens, in Valuable Printed Books, 34–40.

copy 20 leaves (signatures a–v). 298 × 214 mm (woodcut on pl. a: 259 × 193 mm). Watermark: Scales, with horizontal scale pan, PiccardW type I 201–74 (all southern German, mostly c.1464–70), closest to I 230 (Höchstädt/Danube 1467) and I 232 (Würzburg 1470), not attested in the other copies of edition III. See Sotheby III pl. F (‘Sykes copy’), cf. p. 25. Printed in deep-brown ink on one side of the paper by rubbing. The absence of cracks on pls h and i suggests that this may be an earlier impression than the Paris copy. Uncoloured, except for the picking out of the Virgin and child on pl. f in green, pink, grey, and yellow. The versos are blank. This copy appears to have been used for display as a set of posters, affixed by nails and pasted to a support (for example, to wooden panelling), before it was made up, at a date that can no longer be determined, as a codex. There are no sewing holes in the printed leaves, and even in the present, early nineteenth-century binding structure the folded bifolia are not sewn, but rather pasted to guards. Most of the bifolia have up to four nail-holes, roughly positioned in the four corners, within the printed area rather than in the margin, variously positioned c.21–3 cm apart in the vertical dimension. The blank versos of the printed leaves are covered with a heavy layer of a brown paste-and-glue mix, often collecting as thicker puddles in the cockled surface which never match on facing pages, and thus cannot be explained as an indication that the blanks were at one time pasted together in the familiar manner. Often the versos show the impression of strengthening strips, of parchment or paper, and some leaves show offset of printed (pl. i) or handwritten (pls l, m) material, all in Latin, which was discarded when the leaves were bound up as a codex. In a few places there are worm-holes, or damage from insects, but with no matching marks on adjacent leaves. The outer leaves (pls a recto and v verso) display the rectangular impressions of (parchment?) strips at the head and tail of their spine-edge, probably from the turn-ins of an early modern (seventeenth- or eighteenth-century?) binding structure which preceded the present one. Many leaves show repairs with at least two different laid papers, particularly to the outer edges, which were necessary to even up the textblock when the leaves were made up as a codex, some of them undoubtedly the work of the nineteenth-century binder.

refs. Sotheby I 60 (‘Sykes copy’), 68d; Dutuit I 86–7; Pr 46; Schreiber, Manuel, IV 5; Blockbücher des Mittelalters, 383, 404; Sheppard no. 4.

Binding: Early nineteenth-century gold-tooled armorial-centrepiece inboard binding for Sir Mark Mastermann Sykes, possibly by the London binder Charles Lewis. 306 × 223 × 18 mm. Blue-black straight-grained tanned morocco over couched laminate boards. A paper guard was tipped to the spine-edge verso of each folded bifolium and then folded to provide a spinefold for sewing. A blue ‘Stormont’ marbled-paper pastedown and ‘made’ flyleaf together with 6 blank leaves were added to both ends of the textblock to form new endleaves. The edges were ploughed and gilded for the current binding. Each board has a restrained gold-tooled border and the armorial centrepiece surmounted by a monogram ‘s | mm’ (63 × 43 mm) of Mark Masterman Sykes. The spine is gold-tooled in panels and has the title ‘biblia | pauperum’ to the second panel. For the centrepiece, not attested before 1795, see the line-drawing reproduction in Davenport 364–5; it is also found on London BL, G.9153, a binding for Sykes tooled on the lower doublure ‘bound by c. lewis’, for which see H. M. Nixon and M. M. Foot, The History of Decorated Bookbinding in England (Oxford, 1993), 99 and fig. 105. The Sykes copy of the blockbook Apocalypse edition V, now in Cambridge UL, Inc. 2[1], Oates no. 3, has a matching blue-black morocco binding with the same centrepiece. There is no evidence of the pre-nineteenth-century binding, except for some offset from binding scrap on the blank recto of pl. a. The second flyleaf contains various notes in Douce’s hand, referring to a Vienna copy of the German blockbook edition of the Biblia pauperum, and to the attribution of the Latin text to Bonaventure. Tipped in here is a white-on-black facsimile of plate .v. of the Biblia pauperum, the frontispiece to ‘The History of Printing’, from W. Pinnock, Guide to Knowledge (London, 1833–6), I no. LXXVIII, 603–8 (5. Oct. 1833), 613–6 (12 Oct.1833). To the pastedown of the lower board is affixed, presumably by Douce, a copy of the engraving by Jacob Matham (1571–1631) after Jan Bouckhorst of the ‘Maid of Haarlem’ receiving a crown of laurels, honouring the supposed invention of printing by ‘Laurentius’ Coster and originally published as the frontispiece to S. Ampzing, Beschryvinge ende lof der stad Haerlem in Holland (Haarlem, 1628); the engraving is missing in Douce’s copy of this book (Douce A.219); cf. F. W. H. Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish Engravings and Woodcuts ca 1450–1700 (Amsterdam, 1949– ), XI 236 no. 365.

Provenance: Sir Mark Masterman Sykes (1771–1823); sale (11 May 1824), lot 616. Francis Douce (1757–1834); armorial book-plate; cf. Sotheby I 60, who notes that the book was purchased at the Sykes sale by Thorpe, who sold it on to Rodd, from whom it was in turn purchased by Douce. Bequeathed in 1834.

shelfmark: Shelfmark: Douce 248.