Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Evangelists Matthew and Mark from a Gospel Book, St. Matthew, Walters Manuscript W.530.D-E, fol. W.530.Er

These two author portraits once preceded the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in a Gospel book in Mount Athos, Mavra, MS A44. They are attributable to the leading book illuminator in Constantinople during the second quarter of the 12th century. His real name is unknown, and he has been conventionally called the "Kokkinobaphos Master".

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Four Evangelists and Two Apostles, The four evangelists and the two chief apostles, Walters Manuscript W.530.C, fol. 211r

This image originally faced the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles in a late eleventh-century Psalter and New Testament in Mount Athos, Vatopedi Monastery, MS 762. It seems likely that in this manuscript's scribe and illuminator were the same person.
The Evangelists and Apostles appear in the following order: Paul, Peter, John (above), Luke, Matthew, Mark (below).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peter of Poitier's Historical Genealogy of Christ, Genealogy of Christ from Tare to Zaram, Walters Manuscript W.796, fol. 1v

This English manuscript was created in the early thirteenth century, soon after the death of its author, Peter of Poitiers, theologian and Chancellor of the University of Paris from 1193 to 1205. It is an early copy of his text, the Compendium historiae in Genealogia Christi. Intended as a teaching manual aid, the work provides a visual genealogy of Christ, comprised of portraits in roundels, accompanied by a text discussing the historical background of Christ's lineage. It also includes episodes from biblical history, including Adam and Eve, Noah's ark, the Nativity, the Virgin and Child, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. Ealy manuscripts like this tend to be in the form of a book, and other examples can be found in British Library, Cotton MS Faustina B.VII, and Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS. 83. Later manuscripts of this text are often presented in roll form.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trebizond Gospels, The Baptism of Christ, Walters Manuscript W.531, fol. 59v

The Holy Spirit is shown descending over Christ in the form of a dove. Two angels wait to receive him when he comes out of the water. The vaguely outlined figure on the lower left is a personification of the river Jordan.

This Gospel Book was probably made in Constantinople in the mid-twelfth century and is remarkable for the fine execution and monumental quality of its full page miniatures. The opening for the Gospel of Matthew is missing, but the other three Gospels are prefaced with a pair of miniatures each: the respective Evangelist on the left, and a scene from the Gospel story on the right. The combination of St. John with the Raising of Lazarus is only found in this manuscript. The text was copied by two scribes whose writing is distinctly different. One of them must have painted the ornament on fol. 175r, which contains curious animal figures.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pontifical, St Gregory the Great, Walters Manuscript W.536, fol. 72v

This manuscript contains liturgical prayers for the use of a bishop. It is among the first known works of one of the most prominent Greek scribes of the Ottoman period, Metropolitan Matthew of Myra (fl. 1596-1624). (If the manuscript ever contained a note with his name, this is now lost, but the peculiar handwriting is clearly attributable to his hand.)

Saint Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome (590-604), is traditionally considered the author of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the text of which follows upon this miniature. He is portrayed here in episcopal vestments, holding a Gospel book in one hand and blessing the faithful with the other.

The scribe Matthew of Myra is known to have been in Moscow at the time when this manuscript was copied. Judging from its style, the miniature must be the work of a Russian icon painter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two leaves from the Mirror of human salvation, The Annunciation and Moses and the Burning Bush, Walters Manuscript W.149, fol. 2v

This a fragment of a manuscript that was made in Germany in the late fourteenth century. It was part of a brightly illuminated copy of a popular anonymous treatise called the Speculum Humanae Salvationis, or Mirror of Human Salvation, in which events of the old testament were compared to those of the new. In this example, as was often the case, each column is headed by a miniature. These these pages were reused as a wrapper for a book at some later time. The ghosting of the book it adorned can still be seen in the dark, abraded portion that spans the two pages. By the nineteenth century, the value of the pages was recognized, and they were restored to their state as a bifolium.