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Illuminated Manuscripts
5.2 Four Gospels
Late 10th c.
Dionysiou Cod. 588
Parchment, 23 x 18 cm, ff. 285


The Original New Testament

This codex is illuminated with the full-page portraits of the four Evangelists: Matthew (fol. 14v), Mark (fol. 89v), Luke (fol. 139v) and John with Prochoros (fol. 225v). In the art of these miniatures the faces possess a plastic quality, a feature which became prominent since the mid-tenth century, while the draperies are somewhat geometric in form, which shows the gradual departure from classical prototypes. The manuscript is also illuminated with eight other full-page ornaments, which frame the canon tables (fols. 3v-7r), and sumptuous rectangular and band-shaped headpieces, together with an initial letter at the beginning of each of the four Gospels; the four-lobed opening within the headpiece of Matthew's Gospel (fol. 15r) and the open book in the same position in that for John's Gospel (with the titles of the Gospels) show the artist's inventiveness. The text of the manuscript is written in reddish-brown miniscule script, with many titles in gold majuscule. The overall quality of the manuscript and the representation of John with Prochoros, which first appears at about this time in Constantinople, together with the adornments in the headpieces (rosettes, undulating rinceau, and a geometrical approach in the design) indicate that the work comes from the capital of Byzantium. The binding consists of two wooden boards covered with silver gilt sheets bearing representations of the Crucifixion on the front and the Anastasis on the back. The manuscript is in good condition.

Bibliography: Euthymios 1957, p. 234. Thesauroi 1973, pp. 447-8, figs. 278-89. Galavaris 1995 (2), pp. 225-6, figs. 57-9. Weitzmann 1996, 2, pp. 9, 85-6, figs. 278-89.

Index of exhibits of Monastery of Dionysiou
10th century

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