The Hamilton Bible, Naples ca 1350

Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin

Kupferstichkabinett 78 E 3, foul. 4r

Our miniature is divided into 16 pictorial sections showing scenes from the first book of Moses, Genesis. On the left a richly decorated letter ‘I’ of excessive length marks the beginning of the biblical text: In principio creavit Deus coelum et terram – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

The miniatures are framed from left to right with lively ornament including prophets with scrolls and angels. The angel in the left border, next to the second row of pictures, is Gabriel holding the lily of the annunciation to Mary. The “Ave” – a reversal of the letters of the name “Eva” (Eve) -signifies that Mary, the new Eve, will, through her son Christ, release mankind from the guilt of original sin.

Most of the full-page miniatures of the Hamilton Bible are decorated with representations of favorite saints. Here the half-figure of St. Francis is borne by angels.