Beatus of Liébana - Lorvao Codex

Cod. 160 - Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal)

Alternate Titles:

Lorvao Beatus, Beato de Liébana: Códice de Lorvao, Beato di Liébana. Codice di Lorvao

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Lorvao Beatus
Beato de Liébana: Códice de Lorvao
Beato di Liébana. Codice di Lorvao

Type
Extent / Format

460 pages / 34.5 x 24.5 cm

Origin
Date
1189
Style
Genre
Artist / School

Author: Beatus of Liébana (died after 798)

Illustrations

88 miniatures

Short description

The so-called Lorvao Codex belongs to the collection of Beatus-Manuscripts, which are grandiose illustrations of the Apocalypse-Commentaries of Beatus of Liébana. Unique to this manuscript is that, unlike the majority of the well-known Beatus-Manuscripts, it was finished in Portugal in 1189, not in Northern Spain. 88 large panel miniatures in 460 pages show the shock and awe of the Revelation of John at the end of the world. In this manner, the biblical text and the adjoining commentary from Beatus is artfully illustrated.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Beatus of Liébana - Lorvao Codex

The so-called Lorvao Codex belongs to the collection of Beatus-Manuscripts, which are grandiose illustrations of the Apocalypse-Commentaries of Beatus of Liébana. Unique to this manuscript is that, unlike the majority of the well-known Beatus-Manuscripts, it was finished in Portugal in 1189, not in Northern Spain. 88 large panel miniatures in 460 pages show the shock and awe of the Revelation of John at the end of the world. In this manner, the biblical text and the adjoining commentary from Beatus is artfully illustrated.

A Great Work of Beatus of Liébana

This master work of the Asturian monk Beatus of Liébana was widely known in the Middles Ages in Northern Spain. Beatus of Liébana was a monk and theologian in a cloister in the Kingdom of Asturias in Northern Spain. He lived in the 8th century and died just after 798. He became well known through his work, the Commentary of the Book of Revelation. Beatus Beatus included in his work staggered sections from different authors, and even cities many of his sources in the text. The text concerning the apocalypse is cut into 66 sections, which is immediately followed by a so-called explanation, a commentary from Beatus about the verses. The allegorical and symbolic pictures of the Apocalypse of John of the end of the world could have been made more easily understandable. The year 800 was expected by many to be the End of the World, which Beatus played into prompting with his well-established Apocalypse-Commentary.

An Extraordinary Example

This end of the 8th century script found large success and was widely disseminated throughout Northern Spain in the Middle Ages and is today found in 27 richly illustrated manuscripts. They were likely not used for literary applications, but rather served as private prayer books or as luxury items and status symbols. These so-called Beatus-Manuscripts of the 10th through 12th centuries count as amongst the masterpieces of Spanish book art. The contained examples derive almost exclusively from Northern Spain, which makes the Lorvao Codex a true anomaly, as it was created in Portugal. Written in 1189 in the Cloister of São Mamede de Lorvão of Coimbra, the Beatus of Lorvao belongs to the earliest Portuguese illuminated manscripts. Perhaps connections can be made between the text and King Sancho I, who was the second King of Portugal. Today the manuscript is retained with the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Lisbon.

Stylistically Distinguished Miniatures

Throughout the 460 pages, 88 partial whole-page miniatures are distributed. The manuscript is in a 34,5 x 24,5 very large format, which offers sufficient space for large pictures. Even the style of the miniatures of the Lorvao-Codex shows a special feature. Unlike the typically completely colored illustrations in most manuscripts, in this work colored miniatures of displayed figures and objects are juxtaposed with uncolored items. In this way, they stand out strikingly from the basis of the images. Stylistically, the extreme stylization of light colors is predominant. The yellows and red of the miniatures are also outstanding features that are particularly striking. Among the many depictions are, for example, a scene of divine appearance, terrible visions of the apocalypse, but also ornamental picture pages illustrating the Apocalypse text and commentary. wonderful iconological pictures are also found within, which lend the script with grandness and opulence. As to the writer of the script, a certain Egeas has been identified, who was possible also responsible for the illustrations, too.
The Beatus-Manuscript from Lorvao counts as the earliest highpoint of Portuguese manuscript art. The commentary from Beatus of Liébana of the Apocalypse of John that one finds within is creative and entertaining and of an extremely high artistic quality. Above all, the Lorvao-Codex is a distinguished example of the important (North Spanish) tradition of Beatus-Manuscripts of the 10th through 12th centuries.

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