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.

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