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Illustrations from the:

Biblia Segunde de San Isidoro de Leon,
Biblioteca, Colegiata S. Isidoro, Leon, 1162

Jericho falls

Goliath Challenges the Israelites

David and Goliath

David, King of Judah

King David sends his army to fight his son Absalom


El Archivo Capitular de la Colegiata de San Isidoro cuenta entre sus tesoros con una Biblia visigótico-mozárabe realizada por Florencio y Sancho en el año 960. Cuenta con 517 folios y ricas ilustraciones. En el siglo XII anónimos copistas reprodujeron las mismas miniaturas en una Biblia de 3 volúmenes con 617 folios en letra carolina. La técnica y el estilo de la miniatura corresponden a época románica.
The Chapter Archive of San Isidoro Collegiate counts among its treasures a Visigothic-Mozarabic Bible by Florentius and Sanctius in 960. It has 517 pages and rich illustrations. In the twelfth century anonymous copyists reproduced the same miniatures in a Bible of three volumes with 617 pages in carolina font. The technique and style of miniature correspond to the Romanesque period.

Church of San Isidoro, León (Léon), 1161-62
Tempera on parchment
21¾ x 15in. (55 x 38cm)
Real Colegiata de San Isidoro, León (MS. 3 [3 volumes])

A colophon prominently displayed on the first page recounts in exceptionally complete terms the genesis of this Bible:
This book was undertaken in the time of King Ferdinand [II, r. 1157—88], son of Emperor Alfonso, and was concluded during his glorious reign. During the rule of the most reverend abbot Menendo, prudent rector of the monastery of San Isidoro, one of the canons with great effort on raging seas carried from France to our land the parchment for this marvelous work. You may marvel at the completion of this book in the space of only six months for the writing and a seventh for its decoration in color. Sub era MCC. VII/Kal. Aprilis [March 25, 1162].1
    Although scribes of the palatine church of San Isidoro may have carried out Abbot Menendo's commission, it is also possible that the whole enterprise was entrusted to a traveling team of professionals. At any rate, the task of illumination, which occupied a month, seems to have been realized by professional painters who traveled, as one of the two hands responsible for the more than a hundred illustrations worked on the frescoes in a far-distant Aragonese church in Navasa (now in the Museo Diocesano dc Jaca), to judge by the identity of style in both enterprises].2
    The team of miniaturists did not bring their model with them. Because of their extraordinary similarity and the fact that they belong to the same library, it is customarily assumed that the present Romanesque Bible was based upon the Bible of 960 at San Isidiro, León (cat. 108). However, the present manuscript contains Old Latin textual glosses—one of the distinguishing features of the Leonese Bibles—and an illustration in Exodus that were not included in the Bible of 960. There must have been a Bible that served as a model for both the surviving copies in San Isidoro.3 One possible prototype is a fragment in Rome of a Bible written in 943 that is a twin of the Bible of 960 but not known to have been in León. Another candidate is a now lost Bible that was recorded to have been part of the library of San Isidoro in the eighteenth century. 4

1. My translation.
2. Yarza 1985b, pp. 385-86. Yarza hesitated to go beyond proposing that the same shop participated in both projects, but the same hand seems to have been at work.
He perceptively identified the original frontis piece of the 1161-62 Bible as the Majesty page now in the library of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid (ibid., p. 386).
3. Williams 1967.
4. McCluskey 1987, p. 238 n. 22.

Source: pp.297-298 The Art of Medieval Spain AD 500-1200, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1993

Other Spanish and North African Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Other 12th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers