Gospel Harmony of Eusebius

Codex F. II. 1 - Array (Brescia, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

Evangelienharmonie des Eusebius, Festtagsevangelistar mit Kanontafeln, Le concordanze di Eusebio, Eusebio di Cesarea

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Evangelienharmonie des Eusebius
Festtagsevangelistar mit Kanontafeln
Le concordanze di Eusebio
Eusebio di Cesarea

Type
Extent / Format

84 pages / 35.0 x 25.0 cm

Origin
Date
Second quarter of the 11th century
Style
Genre
Language
Illustrations

19 canon-tables, 11 full-page miniatures and 12 full-page initial letters with rich gold ornaments

Short description

The Reichenau school was one of the most important centers of manuscript production during the Middle Ages, greatly influencing and in many way defining the style of Ottonian Illumination. The Gospel Harmony of Eusebius is a prime example of Reichenau illumination in its late period. Beginning with 19 canon tables, each unique with respect to its design, it is followed by a Gospel Pericopes featuring gorgeous miniatures of the various works and events in the life of Jesus Christ. This splendid illumination features all the hallmarks of Ottonian art: classically-influence arhcitecture, purple and burnished-gold backgrounds, bright colors, and the generous application of gold leaf.

Facsimile editions available

Description

A Late Period Gem of the Reichenau School

Among the irreplaceable masterpieces of the school of Reichenau is the manuscript Queriniana in Brescia, composed almost exclusively of full-page miniatures, initials and elaborate canon tables. The codex is introduced by 19 leaves, portraying 19 architectural, artfully executed canon arches that frame the Gospel Harmony created by Eusebius in the 4th century. All folios are ornate with a variety of luxurious decorations and none of the many colorful columns are identical; architectural gables and arches, inspired by the classical style, alternate to form a perfectly harmonious composition. Little is known about the origins of the manuscript. By the 14th century at the latest, the codex was in the possession of the upper Italian Lamberti Family, whose coat of arms adorns the very first page of the manuscript. The question today is whether its current contents were assembled from two manuscripts, and might be answered by future research.

Gorgeous Ottonian Illumination

This first section is followed by the Gospel Pericopes and includes eleven full-page miniatures as well as twelve luxury initials facing each other and introducing the readings for the different feast days. The solemn character of the book is further underlined by a number of initials set on purple ground and preceding the individual readings. The vivid orange fillings further enhance the colorfulness so typical of Ottonian illumination from Reichenau. This unique manuscript is rarely mentioned in the expert literature, perhaps because of its remote repository, but whoever does so, describes it with the greatest esteem. Its 42 miniatures and initials, all executed in glittering gold, are among the finest examples ever created by artists of the Ottonian period. The monumental feast day Gospels document the beauty and quality of Reichenauian book illumination in its heyday.

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