Picture Bible of Saint Louis

Morgan Library & Museum (New York, United States of America)
Array (Toledo, Spain)

Alternate Titles:

Biblia de San Luis, Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen, Bibbia di San Luigi, Bible de Saint Louis, Bíblia de São Luís

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Alternate Titles

Biblia de San Luis
Bibel Ludwigs des Heiligen
Bibbia di San Luigi
Bible de Saint Louis
Bíblia de São Luís

Extent / Format

3 volumes - 1,230 pages / 42.2 x 30.0 cm


King Louis IX, St. Louis (reigned 1226-1270)


4887 medallions containing illuminated scenes

Former owners

Alfonso X the Wise

Short description

The Picture Bible of Saint Louis arose between 1226 and 1234 and was produced in Paris by the most gifted French illuminators of the time. The work is embellished with an unbelievable number of large colored and gold-adorned miniatures. It is an inexhaustible source about medieval court life for scholars of the humanities and those interested from all subject areas.

Facsimile editions available


Picture Bible of Saint Louis

Saint Louis was, as his name indicates, a pious man with a fervent faith. Numerous, inconceivably richly designed Bible codices originate from his commission. He had such manuscripts produced not only for his own education and edification, but also for the instruction and strengthening of the faith of his subordinates. The Picture Bible of Saint Louis, parts of which are found today in the Toledo Cathedral and the Morgan Library in New York, is one of the richest book treasures that the king possessed. The biblical manuscript is furnished with over 4,800 breathtaking miniatures.

A Kingly Cultural Asset

The bible of King Louis represents an inexhaustible resource for experts and scholars from the fields of theology, history, sociology, art, and art history. The particular research, which is assigned to this astounding document, makes it possible to date the work between 1226 and 1234. The manuscript was designed in Paris by the most gifted illuminators of the 13th century. It served the religious education of the future king of France. Hardly any other work offers those interested from around the world more information about the culture of the French court in the Middle Ages.

Exquisite Illustration

Judging by the rich appointment of the work, it is immediately recognizable that the Picture Bible of Saint Louis could only be a book fit for a king. The images of the manuscript illustrate in an excellent manner the events, which are described in the text of the bible. They reflect the fine style of French Gothic painting, which is also found in the great wall paintings of the time. Each magnificent miniature was equipped with high-quality colors and gold leaf in the most varied implementations. The large page format of the book allows each miniature page a truly monumental effect. Due to the rich application of paint and opulent gold embellishment, each page of the work could only be painted on one side. Thus it was ensured that the outstanding picture would not run.

Unique in Every Aspect

Not only the luxurious image inventory of the work, but also its particular textual content make the bible of King Louis a unique book treasure of the Middle Ages. This was not a typical bible, but rather a selection of important bible pages, which were accompanied by a theological commentary. All of that indicates that the passages were used for the pedagogical development of princes and future kings. Saint Louis gifted his bible to King Alfonso X of Castile, who listed it in his will as the most beautiful and richest thing given to him by the king of France.

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