Pair of Leaves from a Latin Bible:
Initial I: Entwined Beast and Serpent (opening of Book of Ruth) and Initial E: Entwined Lion and Serpents (opening of the Third Book of Kings), about 1225-50
Ink and tempera on vellum
The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection [Cat. nos. 2 and 3
This pair of leaves from the same one-volume Bible have been traditionally associated with the Benedictine abbey of Glastonbury in southwest England. It is known that the Bible once belonged to the English antiquary and collector, Roger Gale (1672-1744), whose library of 450 manuscripts once included two of the surviving 35 books from Glastonbury Abbey. Until its dissolution in 1539, Glastonbury was one of the greatest and wealthiest abbeys in Europe. Given its vast wealth and the recorded library lists, the abbey must have been a substantial patron of the arts. However, only a few illuminated manuscripts can now be positively identified as Glastonbury work.