Ɵ Leaf from a large Bohemian Bible, with Zechariah 1:1-4:3 with end of the prologue of St. Jerome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
[Bohemia (probably Prague), c. 1430]
Single leaf, with double column of 45 lines in a good late gothic bookhand ( textualis formata , in spiky forms peculiar to Bohemia), red rubrics, red running titles in angular script, 2-line initials in red or blue, one large initial 'I' (opening "In mense octavo ...", Zacharias 1) in dark blue with scalloping white penwork, enclosed within burnished gold panel, the gold pounced and highlighted with yellow paintstrokes and set within a pale green frame, coloured acanthus leaf sprouts (with notably angular leaves) emerging from initial into inner upright border, enclosing gold fruit and a large bezant at head and foot, the foliage enclosing but not obscuring a small textual correction in the upper border, a catchword at foot of verso showing this was once the last leaf of a quire, a tiny near-contemporary '22' in central gutter, slight cockling visible on reverse, outer edges of leaves perhaps once folded from last framing, small spots, else excellent condition, 370 by 270mm.; in cloth-covered card binding
1. Sotheby's 12 December 1966, lot 153, bought as a single leaf by Folio Fine Art, then their cat. 44 (1967), no. 229.
3. Sotheby's 8 July 1974, lot 7.
4. Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery, cat. 146 (1979), no. 137.
5. Sotheby's 18 June 1991, lot 29.
6. Schøyen Collection, London and Oslo, their MS 1362, acquired in Sotheby's.
The arched and angular semi-cursive script along with the highly stylised prickly leaves and pounced gold are all hallmarks of Bohemian book production in the fifteenth century. Compare the contemporary Martinice Bible (Prague, Knihovna Akademie, 1 TB 3; reproduced by B. Drake Boehm and J. Fajt, Prague, the Crown of Bohemia , 2006, no. 135), a manuscript associated with newly emergent Hussitism, and of equally large dimensions. Like that one the parent manuscript of this leaf was probably produced for a wealthy scholarly patron.