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Collections | Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Winchester Bible image

Scenes from the Life of David
Leaf from the Winchester Bible
Illuminated by the Master of the Morgan Leaf
England, Winchester, Cathedral Priory of St. Swithin, ca. 1160–80
583 x 396 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1912; MS M.619 (verso)
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Described as the finest English painting of the twelfth century, this is the Morgan's most important single leaf. The Winchester Bible, the largest and finest English Romanesque Bible, was begun about 1160 but never finished. Four full-page drawings by the Apocrypha Master were executed; two remain in the refectory Bible. The only painted leaf (1170s) is this one, the masterpiece of the Master of the Morgan Leaf. It prefaced the Book of Samuel and depicts in each tier:Saul Watching David Slay Goliath, Saul Hurling a Spear at David and Samuel Anointing David, and Joab Killing Absalom and David Mourning the Death of His Young Son. The Morgan Master simplified the drawing by reducing the number of feet (of both horses and men).

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.