Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Ashmole 1511, Southern England, 12th Century
. Published in 1982. Complete colour facsimile edition of the 244 pp. (105 + 17 fol.) and of the inner end pages in original size 280 x 180 mm. The all leather binding is a faithful replica of a Romanic binding, presently in the possession of Austrian National Library in Vienna. All folios are cut according to the original. + Commentary volume: Transcription and translation of the text into German by F. Unterkircher, Vienna, Limited edition. with fantastic animal pictures on rich gold leaf. Bestiaries, illustrated books of animals, whose moralistic contents relate to selected biblical texts, were highly popular in the late 12th century. ther Oxford manuscript probably ranks among the finest examples of its kind. The magnificent codex, richly embellished with gold leaf, not only exceeds itself with its marvellous luminous opaque colour painting and clear depiction of animals, plants and human beings, but also in its predilection for serene symmetry, refined ornament and frequent use of carefully executed diaper-patterned backgrounds. The pictures are irregularly dispersed throughout the text. According to our modern conception, the animals often depict a surreal view of nature: a crocodile with a serpent's head and bird's feet, a horned panther with rather arbitrary colouring are but a few examples of an astonishing iconography which, far from naturalistic sketches, was based on the free interpretation of literary models. The book contains an overwhelming wealth of animal depictions: for example: A magnificent many-finned whale catches fish, while misguided sailors, thinking it to be an island, try to land on its back. All in all 130 miniatures within only 105 pages illustrate several chapters on nature and the qualities of animals; birds, snakes, worms, fish, trees, flintstones, as well as the nature of mankind. Of special interest is the illustration of Genesis in the beginning of the book, which is set amongst exceptionally enlarged and boldly narrative painted scenes. Former owners a.o. : William Wright, vicar of High Wycombe; William Mann; Sir Peter Mancroft; John Tradescant; Elias Ashmole; Oxford University.
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Keywords: Codex Facsimile Medieval Oxford Ketterer