Manuscript: MS. 100
Description Beasts Gallery Bibliography Jump to Home page Help Jump to Contents page Jump to Manuscript Index Search Previous beast Next beast
J. Paul Getty Museum, MS. 100
(The Northumberland Bestiary)

Produced: England, ca. 1250-1260 CE

Language: Latin


Binding: Pasteboard covered with red morocco
Media: Parchment

Folios:    Height: 21 cm   Width: 15.7 cm

Manuscript type: Bestiary

Location: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, United States

Family: First; Transitional


Source: Getty Museum Collections: Bestiary | Copyright 2000 J. Paul Getty Trust | Folio 13r


Formerly Alnwick Castle MS. 447, the manuscript was sold in 1990 to an anonymous collector in the United States. A complete set of photographs of the manuscript was deposited in the Conway Library, Courtland Institute. The manuscript was purchased by the Getty Museum in 2007.

The bestiary is on folios 1r-73r. It is almost identical to British Library, Royal MS 12 C. xix.

"A 13th-century English bestiary -- a book about real and imaginary animals -- abundantly illustrated with 112 colored-ink drawings on vellum, was sold last Friday at Sotheby's in London for $5.85 million, the second-highest price at auction for any manuscript. The buyer of the Northumberland Bestiary, Nicholas Poole-Wilson of Bernard Quaritch, a London dealer, would not say whom he was representing. "I can't comment on the purchase, but I can comment on the manuscript," Mr. Poole-Wilson said by telephone after the sale. "It is prime medieval art, the English bestiary at its best. The bestiary was a very English phenomenon, particularly in the 13th century. Only about 40 survive." Christopher de Hamel, who heads Sotheby's sales of Western manuscripts in London, said the 148-page manuscript was the last English bestiary recorded in private hands and the first to come to auction in 101 years. It was sold by the 11th Duke of Northumberland from Alnwick castle, where the manuscript had been since the 18th century. "We have not been told why he is selling anything," said D'Estey Bond, a Sotheby's press spokeswoman. She added that he was selling some antiquities and documents in next week's sales." - New York Times, December 7, 1990

"Seventeen years ago the Getty missed at auction the great English Gothic manuscript known as the Northumberland Bestiary. English manuscript illuminators made bestiaries (a medieval encyclopedia of animals) into one of the most beloved of all illustrated Middle Ages texts and, at the time, this was the last significant example known to remain in private hands. Over the course of the past 17 years, curator Thomas Kren worked to persuade the owner of the book - his favorite manuscript in a superb personal collection - that the J. Paul Getty Museum was an ideal home for it, making it available to a wide and enthusiastic audience of art lovers. The Getty acquired the work in June 2007." - Getty Museum

Additional description

Editions and Facsimiles

Digital facsimiles: Getty Museum (partial)


Description Beasts Gallery Bibliography Jump to Home page Help Jump to Contents page Jump to Manuscript Index Search Previous beast Next beast