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Morgan Bible

From Academic Kids

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Morgan_Bible_10r.jpg
"The Israelites are repulsed from Hai" (fol. 10r)

The Morgan Bible (The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, Ms M. 638) is a medieval picture bible of 44 folios. This book was probably created under the direction of Louis IX of France in the mid-1240s. Originally it probably contained only paintings, organized in a consistent visual rhythm from page to page. Within 150 years, the book acquired marginal inscriptions in Latin. Cardinal Bernard Maciejowski, Bishop of Cracow, had the book given as a gift to Abbas I (Shah of Persia) in 1608. Abbas ordered inscriptions in Persian to be added. Later, perhaps in the eighteenth century, incriptions were added in Judeo-Persian. Thus the book consists of beautiful paintings of events from Hebrew scripture, set in the scenery and customs of thirteenth-century France, depicted from a Christian perspective, and surrounded by text in three scripts and five languages (Latin, Persian, Arabic, Judeo-Persian, and Hebrew).

The Morgan Bible is a masterpiece of Gothic art. It testifies impressively to how persons make sense of words and images. Historical recreationists, such as members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, find in it valuable evidence about medieval clothing, weapons, and armor.

The Morgan Bible is also called the "Morgan Bible of Louis IX", the "Book of Kings", the "Crusader Bible", and the "Maciejowski Bible".


References

  • Cockerell, Sydney C. and John Plummer (1969), Old Testament miniatures: a medieval picture book with 283 paintings from Creation to the story of David (New York: G. Braziller) [contains reproductions of all paintings in the Morgan Bible.]
  • Noel, William and Daniel Weiss, eds. (2002), The Book of Kings: Art, War, and the Morgan Library’s Medieval Picture Bible (Baltimore: Walters Art Gallery). [catalog of recent exhibition]

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