Commentary on Isaiah

On the final page of this manuscript there is a small portrait of a tonsured monk. With his left hand he dips a pen into an inkhorn, and in his right hand he holds a knife (used to sharpen the point of the quill); a manuscript sits on the lectern in front of him. The rubric reads: ‘Image of Hugo painter and illuminator of this work’) The self-portrait (from which we can see that he was apparently left-handed), bestows a sense of individuality on this volume, like a modern autograph; but one must be careful not to ascribe anachronistic motives to a product of the monastic scriptorium, where communal enterprise and spiritual devotion were more important than artistic reputation, let alone celebrity.

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Miniatures, historiated and other initials

In Latin, on parchment; 293 leaves, 350 x 245 mm

Early eighteenth-century binding for the Bodleian: brown calfskin with blind tooling