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Illuminated Manuscripts
5.11 Four Gospels
13th c.
Dionysiou Cod. 4
Parchment, 26 x 18 cm, ff. 36


The Original New Testament

This codex contains six full-page miniatures, which depict the following: Moses receiving the Law (fol. 4v), Hosioi Ammonios and Eusebios (fol. 5r), and the four Evangelists: Matthew (fol. 14v), Mark (fol. 112v), Luke (fol. 177v) and John (fol. 278v). The Evangelists are portrayed seated before their Gospels: Matthew is writing, Mark is thinking, Luke is dipping his pen into his ink-well, while John is bent over, listening in amazement to the voice from the semicircle of heaven. The codex is also decorated with twelve full-page ornaments at the beginning - two with Eusebios's letter and ten with the canon tables - as well as elaborate rectangular headpieces with rich fauna and flora decoration, and initials at the beginning of each Gospel; the figures of the Evangelists in the four initials, with the clothing wrapped tightly around the bodies, show the aesthetics of the art of this period and may derive from similar full-page representations. The full-page Evangelist miniatures and the headpieces are set within classicizing frames, while the forms of flora decoration also hark to the past: foliate branches with calyxes and flower petals form eight-shaped designs. All these demonstrate the role of the ornament in the manuscripts of the Palaeologan art of this period and lend a decorative character to the composition. The codex contains the text of the four Gospels in sequence, written in a carefully executed miniscule script, with gold letters in the titles. The use of gold, the richness of the decoration of the canon tables and the headpieces, and the overall care taken in the technical execution of this manuscript are, as a rule, characteristics of the scriptoria of Constantinople. The binding is of wood with a badly worn silk cover. In other respects, the manuscript is in good condition.

Bibliography: Brockhaus 1891, pp. 185, 188, 222, 232, 289. Lambros 1895, p. 319. Hamann-MacLean 1967, pp. 233-4, pl. 23. Lazarev 1967, p. 193. Thesauroi 1973, pp. 393-6, figs. 14-27. Gratziou 1982, p. 84 n. 179, p. 88 n. 197. Galavaris 1995 (2), p. 252, fig. 181.

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13th century

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