Abbey Bible

Unknownabout 1250 - 1262

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Produced for the use of a Dominican monastery, the Abbey Bible is one of the earliest and finest in a distinguished group of north Italian Bibles from the second half of the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Most of these are associated with Bologna, one of the major centers for the production of Gothic illuminated Bibles. Its illumination is a superb example of the influence of the Byzantine style of the eastern Mediterranean that played a dominant role in Italian painting and manuscript illumination in the second half of the thirteenth century.

The illumination and marginal vignettes of the Abbey Bible are remarkable for their liveliness and delicacy. Sensitively depicted facial expressions, rare among Bibles of this era, and dynamic compositions, reveal the artist to be a skilled storyteller.

While filled with amusing figures and spirited pen flourishes, the Bible was nevertheless intended for serious use and study. The text contains many edits, corrections, and amendments, suggesting a university origin for the manuscript. The book appears to be made for a Dominican monastery and devout Dominicans and Franciscans appear prominently in its imagery.


  • Title: Abbey Bible
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: about 1250 - 1262
  • Location Created: Bologna, Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: Closed: 27 x 19.7 cm (10 5/8 x 7 3/4 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment covered with oak boards backed in white alum-tawed pigskin
  • Object Type: Manuscript
  • Number: Ms. 107
  • Inscription: Added calendar tables at the end of the manuscript begin with the year 1262, providing a terminus ante quem for the manuscript. Numerous marginal notations can be found throughout the manuscript, adding to or correcting the text.
  • Culture: Italian
  • Classification: Manuscripts

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps