Gospel Book, Harrowing of Hell, Walters Manuscript W.540, fol. 12r, originally uploaded by Walters Art Museum Illuminated Manuscripts.
This manuscript was executed in 1475 by a scribe identified as Aristakes, for a priest named Hakob. It contains a series of 16 images on the life of Christ preceding the text of the gospels, as well as the traditional evangelist portraits, and there are marginal illustrations throughout. The style of the miniatures, which employ brilliant colors and emphasize decorative patterns, is characteristic of manuscript production in the region around Lake Van during the 15th century. The style of Lake Van has often been described in relation to schools of Islamic arts of the book. Numerous inscriptions (on fols. 258-60) spanning a few centuries attest to the manuscript's long history of use and revered preservation. The codex's later history included a re-binding with silver covers from Kayseri that date to approximately 1700. This jeweled and enameled silver binding bears a composition of the Adoration of the Magi on the front and the Ascension on the back.