Bible, Gospels, manuscript in Armenian, 1433 and later, Armenian calf binding with metalwork

Lot Closed

June 15, 01:38 PM GMT


7,000 - 10,000 GBP

Lot Details


Bible. Gospels. Armenian

[Armenia, 1433, perhaps earlier and later]

4to (218 x 160mm.), illuminated manuscript on vellum, written by several hands in black, red, purple and gold ink, 195 leaves, 3 (of 4) portraits of the Evangelists (lacking Luke) with decorative headpieces for the start of the text of each Gospel, zoomorphic initials, some frieze-style illustrations (incomplete; see footnote), Armenian binding of blind-tooled polished calf over thin wooden boards, three metal pieces nailed to upper cover (one of the Crucifixion), the upper cover tooled to the shape of a stepped cross and the lower cover with a rectangle (to represent Christ's tomb), tooled foredge flap attached to inside of lower board, raised headbands, blue cloth board liners, early manuscript binder's waste from an older (eleventh-century?) Armenian manuscript in a large uncial script [erkat'agir] (with 4 leaves at the front and 2 at the back of the volume), in a drop-backed box, some leaves rubbed with loss of decoration (in particular in the portrait of John, the figure of Prochoros is rubbed), occasional light staining, lacking two long straps and catches, binding rubbed

An Armenian manuscript with unusual frieze-like illustrations. The leaves with these illustrations for the book of Matthew have complete coloured illustrations, although those for the book of Mark and the start of Luke contain outline sketches only, after which the gaps for the illustrations are left empty. Frieze-style illustrations appear in one other Gospel Book, known as the Gospel of the Eight Painters (Matenadaran 7651), written and illustrated in Armenian Cilicia in the 13-14th centuries.

This manuscript seems to be a composite, comprising sections with the frieze-style illustrations, with polychrome gilt decoration and gilt initials, which have then been completed with later leaves with a simpler purple monochrome colour scheme (the initials and marginal decoration are all in purple). The opening of the text and the portraits are all in this later purple colouring.

The main colophon for the book is missing, but there is another colophon dated 1433 by the priest Vardan, son of the priest Thaddeus, and another colophon by Father Basil, about replacing the missing tables of contents and the preface to the Gospel of John; this second colophon is plausibly earlier as the name Basil is rare in Armenia after the fourteenth century.