1540-39-38. Paris. Robert Estienne. Folio (432 x 290 mm). 564 ff., as follows: , 268, 104, 90, 92. Contemporary blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, skillfully rebacked preserving style, lightly rubbed. Unobtrusive worming, mostly marginal, at beginning and end, title with marginal repairs, else a brilliant copy, with all woodcuts delicately coloured by a contemporary hand.
First illustrated edition of the remarkable Estienne Bible, a monumental and beautiful printing, here in a spectacular copy with all the woodcuts, capital letters, and printer´s devices coloured by a contemporary hand, some heightened in gold.
Estienne´s illustrated Bible, besides being a very significant edition of the Vulgate, possibly one of the most beautiful Bibles printed in the 16th century, a fact that is singularly important to this copy, which presents the unique feature that all 20 woodcuts (some almost full page), 77 capital letters, and the four large printer´s devices are finely coloured by a contemporary hand, some heightened in gold. The illustration of this edition was highly praised, and of considerable influence for subsequently printed Bibles, such as Jean de Tourne´s Biblia Sacra (Lyon, 1556), Rouille´s Figures de la Bible (Lyon, 1564), and Buon´s Sainte Bible (Paris, 1586).
This is the third folio Bible printed by Estienne, which represents a further revision along the same lines as his first critical edition of the Vulgate in 1528.
‘The third Estienne folio Bible, for which the text was revised from additional MS sources; a list given at the end of the preface enumerates at least 16 MSS and 3 printed editions. This edition contains the first printing of the Prayer of Manasses, in Greek and Latin. It is the text of this monumental edition which became the foundation of the official Roman vulgate … This is the only illustrated Bible issued by Robert Estienne, and the second of only five illustrated books which he produced’ (Schreiber).
This edition contains the editio princeps of the Prayer of Manasses, in Greek and Latin, the short book in the Old Testament Aprocrypha consisting of a penitential prayer put into the mouth of Manasseh, Kind of Judah. The series of twenty woodcuts were re-issued in 1546: “the purpose of the woodcuts is instruction above the Biblia Pauperum level… Estienne acknowledges on the title-page the assistance of Francois Vatable, regius professor of Hebrew, in preparing the illustrations for the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon” (Mortimer).
“The text of this edition represents a further revision on the same lines as that of 1528, but based on a larger number of MSS. A list given at the end of the preface enumerates at least 16 MSS” (Darlow & Moule 6117);
Provenance: Dominican Convent of Regensburg, old bookplate “Conventus Ratisbonensis F.F. Ord. Praed”; Royal Library of Munich (stamp); Samuel H. Turner (stamp); Philadelphia Divinity School (bookplate and perforated stamp on title).
Adams B-1022; Armstrong 72-75; Bernard 215-16; Darlow & Moule 6117; Schreiber 59.