British Library, Harley MS 4751
(Harley Bestiary)


Produced: England (Salisbury?), c 1230-1240
Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Type: Bestiary
Family: Second
Language: Latin
Folios: 74
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Vellum
Script: Textualis Semi-Quadrata
Dimensions: Height: 30.8 cm Width: 23.2 cm
Folio 8r


This is a luxury bestiary, very finely written and illustrated.

Also includes excerpts from the Aviarium of Hugh of Fouilloy; Clark aviary group: Aberdeen.

[From Payne, p.14]

...illustrated with 106 miniatures in round of square frames. No gold has been used and the colors are sometimes somber... A companion manuscript is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS Bodley 764), with very similar pictures... A rare addition to this pair of bestiaries is material from the Topography of Ireland by Geraldus Cambrensis [Gerald of Wales]...

[Adapted from the British Library description]

This manuscript contains a bestiary from the second family of bestiaries with additions from Gerald of Wales's (b. c. 1146, d. 1223) Topographia Hibernica (Topography of Ireland) on Irish birds.

ff. 1r-74v: Bestiary, beginning: 'Bestiarum vocabulum proprie convenit leonibus' and ending, 'ex eius calce multitudo nascatur'. It ends imperfectly with Isidore of Seville's (b. c. 560, d. 636) Etymology section devoted to plants. The text is closely related to Bodleian Library, MS. Bodley 764.

106 well-drawn miniatures of animals in color, most in a rectangular or round frame. Most images have labels (rubrics) in red. In some cases there are notes in margin to guide the artist (for example, next to the image of the stag on folio 12r are the words hic est Ceru, here is the stag.

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British Library