Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Ashmole 1511

Oxford Bestiary Facsimile Edition

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Extremely widespread during the late 12th century, Bestiaries were illustrated animal books whose depictions related to the Biblical text in allegorical ways. The Oxford Bestiary is possibly one of the best examples among books of this kind from the central middle ages. 

The Oxford Bestiary: An Opulent Work of Art

With its lavish gold-leaf inserts, this manuscript is exceptional for both its depictions of animals in matte though brilliant colors, but also for the illustrations depicting plants, trees, and human characters. The artist's sense of symmetry, the sophisticated decorations and diaper-pattern backgrounds suggest that he truly was a master in his art. 

A Universe in Miniature

The 130 animal miniatures in the Oxford Bestiary are really incredible: their depictions of birds, snakes, worms, and fish are often fantastic and marvelous. One can often find a crocodile with a snake's head and bird paws, an eccentrically colored panther, and so on. These allegorical depictions were certainly based on the artist's free interpretation of what he could find in other treatises and books.     

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Oxford Bestiary": Das Bestiarium facsimile edition, published by Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1982

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Manuscript book description compiled by the publisher.
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Das Bestiarium

Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA), 1982

  • Commentary (French, German, Spanish) by Unterkircher, Franz
  • Limited Edition: 4.500 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Oxford Bestiary: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.

The commentary volume features a transcription and translation of the text into German.

980 copies of this facsimile edition are reserved for the not French and Spanish speaking areas.


The all leather binding is a faithful replica of a Romanic binding, presently in the possession of Austrian National Library in Vienna.

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