In Search of a Model for Illuminated Royally Commissioned Gospels Cover Image
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À la recherche du prototype des Évangiles princiers roumains
In Search of a Model for Illuminated Royally Commissioned Gospels

Author(s): Elka Bakalova
Subject(s): History
Published by: Centrul de cercetare şi documentare ŞTEFAN CEL MARE
Keywords: principles of illumination of manuscripts; the Gospel of Bulgarian King Ivan Alexander; Codex Parisinus graecus 74; manuscript Suceviţa 23; manuscript Suceviţa 24

Summary/Abstract: The question discussed in the article is why namely the Codex Parisinus graecus 74 from the Constantinopolitan monastery of Stoudion served as a model of the London (Curzon 153) Gospel of Bulgarian king Ivan Alexander, and probably of the Gospels – Suceviţa 23 and Suceviţa 24 –, commissioned by Romanian rulers. The author drew special attention on the inclusion of epigrams in twelve syllable Byzantine verse in the Paris. gr. 74 which is not common. The sense of the poetic text written below some scenes stresses the fact that the abbot’s power comes from heaven, from the heavenly Jerusalem, and that the staff, the sign of spiritual leadership, is a gift of God. The preliminary conclusion is that the choice of a model for illuminating royally commissioned gospels in Bulgaria and Romania was by no means by chance. The group of illuminated manuscripts – members of the Parisinus family (called so sometimes) – commissioned by the Bulgarian and Romanian rulers and using as a model the Byzantine Gospel from Stoudion has a unique position in the history of Byzantine miniature painting. The use of Byzantine iconographic formulae was not a simple imitation, it was a result of a deep understanding of the ideological content of a respected formula. A study of the interrelation of the poems and miniatures provides insights into various problems of Byzantine Gospel iconography and elucidates in particular the meaning, or purpose, of the book’s illustrations. The poems do clearly have to do with leadership themes – a symbolical transmission of secular (state) and spiritual power – and are connected with the royal or high-clerical patronage. It may not be typical of Byzantine book production as a whole, but it allows far-reaching conclusions about the preferences and interests of Bulgarian and Romanian rulers.

  • Issue Year: 2012
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 349-373
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: French