The giant Bibles of 12th-century England: the first of three lectures by Christopher de Hamel
The Giant Bibles of Twelfth-Century England
Christopher de Hamel
The great Latin Bibles, in huge multiple volumes, are by far the largest and most spectacular manuscripts commissioned in England in the 12th century, decorated with magnificent illuminated pictures. The lectures will consider the purpose of such books and why they were suddenly so fashionable and also why they passed out of fashion in England during the second half of the 12th century.
1: The Bury Bible
The first lecture will consider the purpose of such books and why they were suddenly so fashionable. It will look principally at the Bible of Bury St Edmunds Abbey, now in the Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The manuscript was commissioned in the time of Anselm, abbot of Bury 1121-48. A chronicle of the abbey records that the cost for it was found by Hervey, brother of Talbot the prior, and that the manuscript was incomparably decorated by the hand of Master Hugo. The work is usually dated to around 1130. Hugo is the earliest professional artist in England whose name is known.
This lecture will discuss what we can tell about Hugo and his work, from close examination of the manuscript itself. It will look at the larger questions of where exemplars and materials were found for the Bible, and at the phenomenal expense of such undertakings.