BIBLIA LEONESA DE SAN ISIDORO
- Reference: Capitular Archive of the Real Colegiata de San Isidoro de León.
Manuscript Nº 2.
- Other Names: Codex Biblicus Legionensis, Codex Gothicus Legionensis.
- Dimensions: 485 x 345mm.
- 514 pages in parchment, in small Visigothic letters, in two 51 line columns.
- More than 300 miniatures.
- Facsimile available: Complete Codex: Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa.
There resided Florencio, a miniaturist of great quality and favourite scribe of Count Fernán González who, according to Father Pérez de Urbel , must have been born around 918. Out of his work, thirteen pieces have reached to these days that are fundamental for the development and study of the Mozarabic miniature, created between 937 and 978. Among them, six manuscripts -two illuminated bibles and the copies of four important foreign codex- and three letters of donation from Fernán González to his son García Fernández.
The Codex Biblicus Legionensis, as it appears in a wonderful complete page miniature that closes the bible as a culmination page, was finished in Valeránica on June 19th 960 by the miniaturist Florencio and the caligraph Sancho, who include there their figure in duplicate surrounding a great letter omega formed by two inverted horse shoe arches.
Although there is not any historical reference about when this bible became property of San Isidoro de León, its is considered highly probable that it was donated by the kings Fernando and Sancha in 1037, once the Monastery of Valeránica disappeared.
Different to the work of Magius and other previous Blessed ones, the figures in this bible appear on a white background and are not framed nor integrated in a landscape, as is also the case of the Holy Bible of the Leon Cathedral or the Antiphonary of Leon, among the previous manuscipts. However, we find again this characteristic in several later codex, like the first phase of Beato de San Millán de la Cogolla and the Emilianense Codex, or other sciptorium form Castille and Leon, like the Beato de Fernando I and Sancha.
The illsutrations by Florencio move completely away from classic realism, though without reaching the precubist synthesis as deacon John does in the Holy Bible of Leon of the year 920, to reflect the spirit of the characters, avoiding details of historical facts to the extent that he does not care to modify details of the scenes and buildings even though they are well documented. It seems that for the illuminator, according to J. Pijoán, “what is important is not the natural phenomenon of things and facts, but the spiritual significance of the fact being achieved”, what is represented by means of static figures, elongated bodies and small rounded heads with big eyes with very white eye sockets and very marked black pupils.
In its more than one hundred biblical stories we find a complete description of the most interesting features of the Hispanic society at the end of the first millenium, like clothings, elements of worship, or religious and civilian buildings. To all of that we have to add the quality of his calligraphy and the beauty of lots of captal letters.
Kind of influences have been tried to find out in Florencio’s pictorial style, from Visigothic ones to Arabic, Sassanid, byzantine, and carolingian, to Asturian and even from the north of Europe, and that is possibly justified in the majority of cases. Although, for obvious reasons, we are not trying to analyze here the manuscript in detail, we would like however to put forward that, from our viewpoint, we find ourselves in front of a great miniaturist that develops his personal style within a cultural surrounding of great permeability and capaciy of absorption of all artistic trends thar are coming up, as we think it usually happened both, in Visigothic as well as in Mozarabic art, that was not more than a recovery period of the eclectic spirit of former times, after a so much normalized stage like a great deal of Asturian art. Starting with that sedimentation culture of all that was known within a great creative freedom, Florencio defined his way his own style using the elements of the artistic heritage he was mostly interested with, which he found in this cultural environment, spreading out his own contibutions to later artists. These, on their turn, who moved around within the same climate of freedom until the Cluniac reform of the eleventh century, would use in each case the heritage of Florencio according to the likings and quality of each artist.
Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomos VI y VII*
SUMMA ARTIS: Tomos VIII y XXII
L’Art Préroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Arte y Arquitectura española 500/1250: Joaquín Yarza
Veinte estudios sobre la Biblia visigótico-mozárabe de San Isidoro de León: Fundación Hullera Vasco-Leonesa