Illuminated 14th-century deluxe Icelandic manuscript (420×290 mm, 202 fols; Reykjavík, Árni Magnússon Institute, GKS 1005 fol.) of King Sverrir’s Saga. It was compiled by the priests Jón Þórðarson and Magnús Þórhallsson for Jón Hákonarson (1350–before 1416), a wealthy landowner in northern Iceland who collected sagas of the kings of Norway. A note on folio 4r dates Jón Þórðarson’s contribution to 1387, and Magnús Þórhallsson’s annals at the end of the manuscript indicate the book was completed in 1394 or 1395. Magnús illuminated the whole manuscript and was the scribe of King Sverrir’s Saga (composed in part by Abbot Karl Jónsson of Þingeyrar, Iceland, c. 1185). The saga contains eight initials decorated in a style combining Gothic curved and draped human figures with Romanesque grotesques and acanthus motifs. Five initials depict Sverrir (with crown, orb and weapons), his opponent Sigurðr, and their soldiers. One initial is foliate, and two depict hybrid monsters. The taunting grotesque (fol. 156...
Elizabeth Ashman Rowe
Richly illuminated manuscript of the Passover liturgy together with a series of liturgical poems to be read during the Passover week (London, BL, Add. MS. 27210), possibly made in Barcelona, c. 1320. This text was to be recited during the seder ceremony at the eve of the Passover holiday. Like most medieval Haggadot (see Haggadah), the Golden Haggadah has no colophon, and its scribe and patrons are unknown. It contains both marginal decorations and a series of full-page miniatures preceding the text and displaying a fully fledged cycle of biblical illustrations following the books of Genesis and Exodus from the Creation of Man to the Crossing of the Red Sea. Stylistically both types of decoration are indebted to early 14th-century Catalan Gothic art.
Similarly, the imagery of the biblical picture cycle also draws on Christian Old Testament iconography and reflects a familiarity with Christian art. The artists and patrons of the Golden Haggadah adopted Christian pictorial sources in a complex process of adaptation and modification, translating the Christian models into a Jewish visual language meaningful in its messages to the Jewish readership. Avoiding themes and iconographic features of a particular Christological concern, the imagery also reflects a close affinity with the traditions of late antique Bible interpretation (Midrash). This points to a specific circle of scholars active in Iberia during the 13th and early 14th centuries as being responsible for the imagery of the cycle. The use of traditional midrashic Bible exegesis is typical for Sephardic Rabbis of anti-rationalist standing, who opposed earlier philosophical trends and followed, rather, scholarly trends common among the Tosafists of northern France. It has also been observed that some images adopt a more specific anti-Christian stance and address polemical issues....
Daniel H. Weiss
Extensively illustrated Old Testament manuscript (390×300 mm; New York, Morgan Lib., MS. M.638) produced in France. Containing more than 340 narrative episodes distributed across the recto and verso sides of 46 parchment leaves, the Old Testament cycle begins with the first chapters of Genesis and concludes with scenes from the life of King David from 2 Samuel. No longer in its original binding, three leaves are now separated from the Morgan volume; two being in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Ms. nouv. acq. lat. 2294, fols 2, 3) and a single leaf in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (83. MA.55). Distinctive for the quality of its illustrations, the richness of its narrative cycle and the fact that the original codex probably contained no text, the Morgan manuscript was produced around the middle of the 13th century, most likely in Paris for King Louis IX (reg 1226–70) or a close associate. The ascription of the manuscript to a royal context is based primarily on thematic similarities to other works associated with the King, including especially the ...