Getty Museum, MS. 100
(The Northumberland Bestiary)


Produced: England, 1250–1260
Current Location: Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA
Manuscript Type: Bestiary
Bestiary Family: First : Transitional
Language: Latin
Folios: 60
Illustrated: Yes
Dimensions: Height: 21 cm Width: 15.7 cm
Folio 8r


The bestiary is on folios 1r-73r. It is almost identical in content to British Library, Royal MS 12 C XIX. It is fully illustrated with 112 simple but well executed pen drawings with a color wash. The images effectively illustrate the stated attributes of the animal.

Formerly Alnwick Castle Library MS. 447, the manuscript is no longer at Alnwick Castle; it was sold in 1990 to a collector in the United States (Sotheby's, London, Nov. 29, 1990, lot 101, to László von Hoffmann). In 2007 it was sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, where its shelfmark is now MS 100.

[From the New York Times, December 7, 1990]

13th-Century Bestiary: 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."

Additional Descriptions

Additional description

Editions and Facsimiles

Digital facsimiles

Getty Museum (Partial)
Getty Museum (Partial, page viewer)