Single leaf, Winchester Bible

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Accession number: 
MS M.619
Single leaf, Winchester Bible
Winchester, England, between 1160 and 1180.
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1912.
1 single leaf ; 580 x 390 mm
Winchester Cathedral; perhaps removed during rebinding; offered for sale for £100 to William Morris by Leo S. Olschki; purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) from Olschki in 1912; J.P. Morgan (1867-1943).

Ms. Bible single leaf (from the Winchester Bible); the Bible was illuminated at St. Swithin's Priory, Winchester, England, between 1160 and 1180.
Text: chapter headings from I Samuel XVI to XXVI.
Decoration: 3-register miniatures on recto and verso with a sequence of 17 scenes from the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David.
Artist: the underdrawings are by the Master of the Apocrypha Drawings; painted by the Master of the Morgan Leaf.
Previous scholars have believed that this leaf - the only fully painted miniature from the Winchester Bible known to be preserved - was never inserted in the manuscript. Claire Donovan (The Winchester Bible, 1993) argues that the strong discoloration on the verso of M.619 and on the recto of folio 88 of the Winchester Bible demonstrates that M.619 was indeed inserted and the Bible itself was on display for centuries at this opening, accumulating dust and other pollutants.

Variant Title: 

Morgan Leaf

book minuscule

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).