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 among the collection of Beatus-Manuscripts, which are grandiose illustrations of the Apocalypse-Commentary of Beatus of Liébana. What is unique about this manuscript is that, unlike the majority of the well-known Beatus-Manuscripts, it was created 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 concerning the end of the world. The biblical text and the adjoining commentary from Beatus is artfully illustrated in this manner.

Facsimile editions available

Description

Beatus of Liébana – Lorvao Codex

The so-called Lorvao Codex belongs among the collection of Beatus-Manuscripts, which are grandiose illustrations of the Apocalypse-Commentary of Beatus of Liébana. What is unique about this manuscript is that, unlike the majority of the well-known Beatus-Manuscripts, it was created 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 concerning the end of the world. The biblical text and the adjoining commentary from Beatus is artfully illustrated in this manner.

A Great Work of Beatus of Liébana

This master work by the Asturian monk Beatus of Liébana was widely known in the Middles Ages originated in Northern Spain. Beatus of Liébana was a monk and theologian in a monastery 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 on the Book of Revelation. In his work Beatus, included staggered sections from different authors, and even cites 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 concerning the end of the world have been made more easily understandable. The year 800 was expected by many to be the End of the World, which prompted Beatus to create his now-well-established Apocalypse-Commentary.

An Extraordinary Example

This end of the 8th century script experienced great success, it was widely disseminated throughout Northern Spain in the Middle Ages and is found today 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 are counted amongst the masterpieces of Spanish book art. These 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 MOnastery of São Mamede de Lorvão of Coimbra, the Lorvao Beatus belongs among the earliest Portuguese illuminated manuscripts. Perhaps connections can be made between the text and King Sancho I, who was the second King of Portugal. Today, the manuscript is housed within the Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo in Lisbon.

Stylistically Distinguished Miniatures

88 partial and whole-page miniatures are distributed throughout the 460 pages. The manuscript is in a very large 34,5 x 24,5 cm format, which offers sufficient space for large pictures. Even the style of the miniatures of the Lorvao-Codex shows a special feature. Unlike the typical completely colored illustrations in most manuscripts, in this work colored miniatures of figures and objects are juxtaposed with uncolored items. In this way, they stand out strikingly from the basis of the images. The extreme stylization of bright colors predominates the imagery. The yellow and red tones 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 iconographic pictures are also found within, which lend the script grandness and opulence. Regarding the scribe, a certain Egeas has been identified, who was also possibly responsible for the illustrations as well. The Lorvao Beatus manuscript counts as the earliest highpoint of Portuguese manuscript art. The commentary by 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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