St John's College MS. 26
Bible: glossed Isaiah and Daniel
A variable writing area dependant upon the gloss, generally within bounds of 220 × 155 mm. . In 45 half-size gloss lines or 15–22 text lines (there is a tendency, where glossing is heavy, to approximate one line of text to three of gloss, so as to include interlinear materials). Prickings; bounded and ruled in black ink.
Written in two sizes of transitional protogothic bookhand/gothic textura, the gloss above top line, the text below top line. Punctuation by point only.
Blanks for introductory headings unfilled, but instructions survive.
No chapter divisions (pencilled notations s. xvi in upper margins, and earlier very indistinct lead notations in upper right corners of leaves).
The text divided with alternate red and blue arabesque capitals, two lines each; glosses introduced with a paraph in the text ink.
Illuminations appear at the heads of major divisions:
Fol. 1ra: a 10-line high gold N on a red ground with two orange and blue birds;
Fol. 3rb: Isaiah, nimbed, in a red robe, with a scroll ‘Isaias prop’ within a 12-line high gold U on midnight blue ground.
Fol. 125va: an 8-line gold C with a walking bird with open wings on violet, all on a midnight blue ground;
Fol. 127va: an 11-line high gold D with a lion playing a horn on a red ground, all on a violet ground;
Fol. 129vb: a 13-line high A formed of two beasts with gold vine in fill on violet and midnight blue
Walter Cahn, ‘St Albans and the Channel Style in England’, in The Year 1200: A Symposium (New York, 1975), 187–230 identified our MSS 26–27, companion volumes, with a painter who illuminated St Albans books during the tenure of abbot Simon (1167–83); he listed them as no. 7 in his enumeration of the relevant books (211) and reproduced our fol. 3rb as his figure 27.
Cahn suggests (194) that our MSS might be associated with a multi-volume glossed Bible commissioned by Simon. (Other portions, although not in the format shared by our books, might be the Luke and John in Lambeth Palace MS 102 and the Pauline epistles, with Peter Lombard’s gloss, in Cambridge, Trinity College MS O.5.8.)
There is further discussion in Patricia D. Stirnemann, ‘The Copenhagen Psalter’ (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1976), which we have not seen.
But Thomson demurs (see 1:54–62 passim); he lists our MSS among fifteen books attributed to ‘the Simon master’ perhaps from the abbey (nos. 97–8 [1:127]), but he suggests that the atelier was probably commercial, not monastic, not located at the abbey, and filling orders from a variety of customers.
See AT no. 65 (10) and plate v (fol. 3rb), with attribution to the ‘Simon painter’.
A modern replacement. Sewn on five thongs. At the front, a marbled paper leaf and two modern paper flyleaves; at the rear, two modern paper flyleaves and another marbled paper one (iii bis–v).
Provenance and Acquisition
The top margin of fol. 1 has been cut away, perhaps to remove an institutional ex-libris. For the possibility that this is a St Albans book (Ker, MLGB does not list it), see above.
‘Liber Collegii Sanctj Iohannis Baptistae Oxon’ ex dono Venerabilis virj Richardi Butler Doctoris Theologiae Archidiaconi Northampt procurante Reuerendo in Christo Patre Iohanne Episcopo Roffensi 1613’ (fol. 2 upper margin).
For enquiries relating to this manuscript please contact St John's College Library.
Funding of Cataloguing
Conversion of the printed catalogue to TEI funded by the Thompson Family Charitable Trust
Last Substantive Revision
2021-09: First online publication