London - Christie’s is pleased to offer discerning collectors the opportunity to view and acquire the Plantin Polyglot Bible during its summer auction of Books and Manuscripts on 11 July in London (estimate: £400,000 - £600,000). Produced by the Plantin Printing workshop in Antwerp almost 450 years ago for King Philip II, this monument of biblical scholarship is now returning from where it originated and will be on public view at the Plantin Museum on 21 and 22 June*.
Also known as the Biblia Regia, this is considered the greatest achievements of the Plantin printing press. Printed in its original languages and the Latin Vulgate, this polyglot Bible features beautiful and exotic types and exemplifies an epitome of typographical design.
King Philip II of Spain had originally commissioned 13 copies on vellum for his personal use, and only 11 of these sets survive today. Sent to him by Plantin in 1572, it remained in royal ownership until c.1788 when Charles III gave it to his son, which then followed on by descent to the present owner. This is the only copy in private hands as all other copies are owned by institutions. Seven are located in Spain, while the others reside in London, Turin and the Vatican.
Meg Ford, International Director Books and Manuscripts comments - “The Renaissance press of Christopher Plantin set out to produce the finest Bible in all Christendom, and Christie’s is exceptionally pleased to bring back for the first time in almost 450 years, a deluxe vellum copy of this masterpiece to its place of origin and the very presses that printed it. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for collectors and bibliophiles to view the deluxe Biblia Regia at the Plantin Museum on 21 and 22 June and Christie’s look forward to offering this set with royal provenance in its auction in London on 11 July.”
Museum Director Iris Kockelbergh says - “The return of the Biblia Regia in its original home is an emotional moment. Seeing this masterpiece on paper is extremely moving and the version on parchment, on show now, surpasses this experience. We look forward to welcoming local and international viewers on 21 and 22 June to the Plantin Museum, a Unesco World Heritage site, where they can explore the world of the influential Plantin and Moretus family.
Senior Curator Dirk Imhof, Plantin Museum, Comments - “Language can scarcely do justice to its extraordinary beauty and perfection of condition” a quote of Thomas Dibdin when he saw a version of the Biblia regia on parchment, The Bibliographical Decameron, Londen, 1817
*The Plantin Polyglot Bible will be on view at the Plantin Museum on 21 June from 10.00am to 17.00pm and on 22 June from 10.00am to 12.00pm.