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UAL Research Online

The Kennicott Bible: Its Illumination, Binding, Conservation Problems and Repair

Clarkson, Christopher (2007) The Kennicott Bible: Its Illumination, Binding, Conservation Problems and Repair. Collection Management, 31 (1&2). pp. 31-56. ISSN 01462679

Type of Research: Article
Creators: Clarkson, Christopher

This paper was originally delivered at "The Changing Book: Transitions in the Design, Production & Repair", in At the University of Iowa, in July 2005. It was subsequently published in the journal Collection Management 31:1&2, in 2007.

The Kennicott Bible is one of the greatest treasures of medieval Jewish bookmaking in Spain. It survives in its original Spanish box binding, in which the back board of the book forms a box which encloses the whole bookblock when the book is closed. Only a handful of these bindings survive and this one of the best preserved. The separation of the back board from the bookblock in recent years required a very neat, skillful repair that did not disturb the original structure but which gave sufficient support to this large book to allow it to be handled safely.

Chris Clarkson treated this book according to the principle of minimum intervention repairs, i.e. repairs which are designed to allow the original elements of a book structure to survive undisturbed. The concept of the minimum intervention repair has been developed by Chris Clarkson himself and is now common practice in the profession. The specific work was successfully completed and this is a report of this work.

Article Abstract:

The Kennicott Bible was made at Corunna in northwest Spain for Isaac de Braga. It was written by a famous scribe named Moses ibn Zabara, who completed the work in 1476. The illuminations were executed by Joseph ibn Hayyim. The manuscript has an extremely rare, highly decorated and contemporary Hispano-Moresque box-binding. Clarkson describes aspects of the parchment, text and outstanding illuminations as well as the construction of the box binding. He concludes with a description of conservation problems, such as consolidation of the decorative layers within the text-block and stabilization of the unique binding.

Official Website: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a902736185~frm=titlelink
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Christopher Clarkson is a renowned book conservator and historian, and a leading authority on the conservation of medieval manuscripts. He graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 1964, and then trained for many years under S.M. Cockerell (Cambridge, England) and later, with Roger Powell. He has taught graphic design, wood engraving, and fine bookbinding at leading London art colleges.

In 1972, he moved to the United States, where he assisted in the design and establishment of the first conservation facility for special collections at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. He has worked extensively on the collections of major museums such as the Smithsonian Institution (Washington), the Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore), as well as the The National Gallery of Art in London. In 1979 he returned to England to work at the Bodleian Library, Oxford where he organised and managed the Book and Manuscript Programmes for Oxford University. From 1987 onwards, Clarkson ran an internship training program on the conservation of books and manuscripts at the Edward James Foundation in West Sussex.

Since 1998 he has focused on his private practice in Oxford and is presently a conservation consultant to the Bodleian Library, Hereford Cathedral Mappa Mundi & Chained Library. In 2004 he won the Plowden Gold Medal, a prestigious annual award to recognise the most significant recent contribution to the advancement of the conservation profession.

Current Research

Recent projects include the Fox Talbots album No. 2; working with the St. Catherine's Library Conservation team at Camberwell College of Arts on the ongoing Codex Sinaiticus - 'New Finds' project; collaborating with the British Library on the forthcoming Facsimile of the Codex Sinaiticus; and private conservation of various medieval manuscripts, as well as Wordsworth Trust & National Trust materials.

Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: The Haworth Press and Routledge: Taylor and Francis Group
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Camberwell College of Arts
Date: August 2007
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1300/J105v31n01_03
Related Websites: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t792303985~db=all, http://www.camberwell.arts.ac.uk/27480.htm
Related Websites:
Event Location: University of Iowa, USA
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2009 22:43
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2010 09:12
Item ID: 1600
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1600

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