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Walters Ms. W.842, Chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah

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Chapter 53 of the Book of Isaiah

Text title
Book of Isaiah 53:1-12


This English manuscript was made in the nineteenth century, using an extremely fine parchment. It contains the fifty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah, in English translation. The small book is composed of eight folios written and decorated on the rectos, leaving the versos blank. Script and decoration suggest that the book was conceived to imitate the style of fourteenth- or fifteenth-century French illumination. The creators, Eleanor Taylor and James Slie, signed the book on the title page, and declared their intended revival of this tradition. Each folio is embellished with border decoration showing narratives of Christ's life, as well as zoomorphic and foliate motifs in a palette of blue, red, and gold leaf. The contemporary binding is painted with a coat of arms inscribed with the motto "GANG WARILY" (proceed with caution). Although the manuscript has traditionally been considered to be of English origin, the armorial shield points to a Scottish use.


19th century CE




As-written name: Eleanor Taylor


As-written name: James Slie






The primary language in this manuscript is English.

Support material


Extremely polished white parchment


Foliation: ii+8+ii

White silk used as pastedowns, as well as the very first and very last flyleaves; second and third flyleaves are paper; each parchment folio is preceded by tissue paper; foliation in pencil upper right corners, rectos


Formula: Undetermined

Comments: Each folio and its accompanying tissue paper held within a small sleeve of heavy paper, which is attached to the spine


18.8 cm wide by 24.6 cm high

Written surface

10.3 cm wide by 15.3 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 10-12
  3. Ruled in red ink

fols. 1r - 8r:
  1. Title: Book of Isaiah 53:1-12
  2. Scribes: Eleanor Taylor; James Slie
  3. Incipit: Who hast believed our report
  4. Contents: Complete text of the fifty third chapter of the book of Isaiah; fol. 1r: title page, "The fifty third chapter of the book of the Prophet Isaiah illuminated in the style of the XIV century by Eleanor Taylor and James Slie"; fols. 2r-8r: Isaiah 53:1-12
  5. Hand note: Imitative Gothic script
  6. Decoration note: Title page written in gold, red, blue and black ink; blue and red ground for the three lines at the beginning; border decoration throughout the book with narrative scenes and foliate ornament; three major decorated initials (3 lines) and smaller initials (1 line) for divisions of the text; text in black ink; initials in red ink for nouns and pronouns referring to the Lord; it is likely that one of the manuscript's creators was the scribe, and one the artist, and due to the ornate illumination of Eleanor Taylor's name on the title page, it is possible that she was the artist


fol. 2r:

  1. W.842, fol. 2r
  2. Title: Enthroned Christ; Holy Family; David playing the harp
  3. Form: Historiated margin
  4. Text: Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53

fol. 3r:

  1. W.842, fol. 3r
  2. Title: Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane; Beast interlace; Flight into Egypt
  3. Form: Historiated margin
  4. Text: Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53

fol. 4r:

  1. W.842, fol. 4r
  2. Title: Good shepherd
  3. Form: Marginal medallion
  4. Text: Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53

fol. 5r:

  1. W.842, fol. 5r
  2. Title: Christ before Pilate
  3. Form: Border illumination
  4. Text: Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53

fol. 6r:

  1. W.842, fol. 6r
  2. Title: Crucifixion; Veronica
  3. Form: Marginal medallions
  4. Text: Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53

fol. 7r:

  1. W.842, fol. 7r
  2. Title: Resurrection
  3. Form: Historiated margin
  4. Text: Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53

fol. 8r:

  1. W.842, fol. 8r
  2. Title: Christ in Heaven; Agnus Dei in quatrefoil
  3. Form: Historiated margins
  4. Text: Book of Isaiah, Chapter 53


The binding is original.

Nineteenth-century white leather binding with gilt edges; upper board decorated with a coat of arms with gold and red undulating stripes, a lion's head and crown; the coat of arms is inscribed with the motto "GANG WARILY" (proceed with caution); the heraldry belongs to the Scottish Drummond clan


Made in the nineteenth century by Eleanor Taylor and James Slie; signatures on the title page

Edward Ripley Duggan of Wilsey Rare Books, New York, before 1997


Walters Art Museum, 1997, acquired from Wilsey Rare Books


Principal catalogers: Noel, William; Smith, Kathryn

Catalogers: Valle, Chiara; Walters Art Museum curatorial staff and researchers since 1934

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editors: Bockrath, Diane; Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Izer, Emily; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.