Quedlinburg Itala fragment

Quedlinburg Itala fragment

The Quedlinburg Itala fragment (Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussicher Kulturbesitz, Cod. theol. lat. fol. 485) is a fragment of six folios from a large 5th century illuminated manuscript of an Old Latin translation of the Bible. It is the oldest surviving illustrated biblical manuscript.

The fragments were found in the bindings of other books in the town of Quedlinburg. The illustrations are grouped in framed miniatures occuping an entire page. There are between two and five miniatures per page, with the corresponding text being on separate pages. The illustrations, although much damaged, are done in the illusionistic style of late antiquity. The fragment includes a full page illumination of episodes from Vulgata: 1 Kings 10:2-3 (see illustration at right)

Much of the paint surface lost revealing the underlying writing that gives instructions to the artist who should execute the pictures. Translation of the text: "You make the tomb [by which] Saul and his servant stand and two men, jumping over pits, speak to him and [announce that the asses have been found]. You make Saul by a tree and [his] servant [and three men who talk] to him, one carrying three goats, one [three loaves of bread, one] a wine-skin."


  • H. Degering - A Boeckler, Die Quedlinburger Italafragmente, Berlin, 1932.
  • Calkins, Robert G. Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1983.
  • Lowden, John: Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Phaidon, 57-59 pp.

Further reading

  • Levin, Inabelle. The Quedlinburg Itala: The oldest Illustrated Biblical Manuscript. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1985.

fr: Itala de Quedlinburg

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