British Library, Harley MS 3244


Produced: England, c 1236-1250
Current Location: British Library, London, England, UK
Manuscript Type: Miscellany
Bestiary Family: Second
Language: Latin
Folios: 192
Illustrated: Yes
Media: Parchment
Script: Gothic
Dimensions: Height: 28 cm Width: 16.5 cm
Sample page - British Library Harley MS 3244
Folio 59r


The bestiary is on folio 36r-71v of the manuscript.

The difference in the count of images (Payne: 132, British Library: 136) is probably due to what each considered an independent image; some are combined or overlapping.

[From Payne, p.15]

...132 wash drawings, chapter headings in red and inscriptions to the pictures. Although the manuscript is copiously illustrated, no gold has been used and the drawings are only lightly painted in browns, blues and greens. It is bound with a number of religious texts apparently collected together as a type of preaching manual.

[Adapted from the British Library description]

The artist sometimes compressed two or more beast accounts into a single frame, as though to save space. For example, on folio 42v there is a frame containing the lion, leucrota and bonnacon, animals with no attributes in common which normally have separate illustrations. On folio 43r the illustration of the crocodile shows the beast eating a man while a hydrus is escaping through its side. On folio 57r the peacock and the hoopoe are confined together in an angular frame shaped to fit them.

Bestiary. Rubric: Incipit liber de natura bestiarum, incipit: Leo fortissimus bestiarum. Decoration: The text is illustrated by 136 framed tinted drawings of animals in colors.

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