Référence: Arras, BM, 0435 (0559), vol. 1
Appellation: Grande Bible de Saint-Vaast
Codicologie: codex ; parchemin ; 185 ff.; 495 mm x 365 mm
Origine: France du nord (Arras, abbaye Saint-Vaast)
Datation: 11e s. (deuxième quart)
Typologie du décor: iconographie, ornement
Notes décor: Additions faites dans les années 1060-1080.
Possesseur: Arras, abbaye Saint-Vaast (destinataire)
Reference: Arras, BM, 0435 (0559), vol. 1
Name: Great Bible of Saint-Vaast
Codicology: codex; parchment; 185 ff .; 495 mm x 365 mm
Origin: Northern France (Arras, Saint-Vaast abbey)
Dating: 11th c. (second quarter)
Type of decor: iconography, ornament
Decor notes: Additions made in the years 1060-1080.
Owner: Arras, Saint-Vaast abbey (recipient)
Notes: "Genesis to Chronicles".
Volume 2 is at Initiale
Volume 3 is at Initiale
fol. 144v (fig. 6)
End of text, third book of Kings, upper left hand column. Rest of page, unframed narrative scenes.
The Sharing of the Double Spirit, the Ascension of Elijah, and the Battle of the Kings of Israel, Juda and Edom against the King of Moab
The available space is essentially divided into two registers, implied by the dark-coloured background behind most of the upper scenes, distinguishing it from the neutral background behind the lower scenes. In the upper register, to the left, a cross-nimbed, unbearded figure with his hands outstretched in an orant-type posture faces a bearded, nimbed man gesturing towards him with both hands. These are presumably Elisha with his mentor, Elijah. To the right, Elisha, this time with a simple nimbus, reaches out with both hands to grasp the cloak that fails from the fourwheeled cart drawn by two horses carrying Elijah heavenwards towards a multi-coloured glory.
In the lower register, two armed cavalries confront each other with spears upraised. The army to the left is led by two crowned figures, while that to the right has one crowned, bearded king. Below the horsemen various foot soldiers are scattered, either with spears raised in combat, or recumbent on the ground, pierced by swords or spears.
The most technically accomplished figural artist in the first campaign, the Acts Master, also adopted more fully the contemporary Anglo-Saxon pen-drawing style. Characterized by recessive, pointy chins, broad noses, large hands and quick, excited gestures, his figures reveal a fluid pen with a sure handling of drapery and anatomy. The figure style of this artists resembles that found in such Anglo-Saxon manuscripts as the early eleventh-century New Minster Liber Vitae, London BM MS Stowe 944, from Winchester [c.1031AD] (fig. 27), implying that the Acts Master must have been copying the style of a relatively recent model. This artist was responsible for the figural illustrations prefacing IV Kings (fig. 6), parts of Jeremiah (fig. 8), 11 Maccabees (fig. 17), the Passio Machabeorum (fig. 18), Acts (fig. 24), Paul's Epistle to Philemon (fig. 20), I and II Peter (figs. 21 and 22), and the underdrawing of the First Epistle of John (fig. 23).51 Out of all
these images, only two are found in the first two volumes of the Bible, the first of these appears to be an ad hoc addition. Therefore, although he contributed to the illustration of all three volumes of the Bible, the Acts Master was probably not the first artist to work on the project, but rather joined the effort some time after it was initiated.52 Nonetheless, the Ezra Master and the Acts Master both participated in the composition of the Jeremiah miniature, and both worked in volume III, suggesting that their tenure in the Saint-Vaast workshop overlapped.53
52 The Acts Master's only contribution to vol. I seems to be an afterthought, the full-page illustration added to the almost blank text page at the end of III Kings, prefacing IV Kings.
Sometime between twenty-five and fifty years after the original nineteen figura1 illustrations were produced, a monk at Saint-Vaast returned to-the Bible to add a further five images.55
Source: The Saint-Vaast Bible: Politics And Theology In Eleventh-Century Capetian France by Diane Joyce Reilly University of Toronto 1999
The cavalryman in the foreground on the right is referenced as figure 3 in Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350, Western Europe and the Crusader States by David Nicolle.
3 Illustrated Bible, north France, early 11th century
(Bib. Munic, Arras, France)
The manuscript is archaic in both style and the military equipment it portrays. Here a man with an almost Carolingian type of large round shield thrusts overarm in an old-fashioned manner with a pennoned spear. His conical helmet might be of segmented construction and, most unusual of all, it seems to have a mail aventail, the only piece of mail in the picture. Such a helmet is otherwise unknown in France. The warrior could reflect an Eastern European - particularly Magyar (Hungarian) - style, or the manuscript could be partially based on a Byzantine original.