Carolingian evangeliary
Carolingian evangeliary
Carolingian evangeliary
Carolingian evangeliary
Carolingian evangeliary
Carolingian evangeliary
Carolingian evangeliary
Carolingian evangeliary

Late 9th century

Material
Parchment

Collection
Dom Museum Wien
On loan from the Library of the Archbishopric of Vienna

Inv.Nr.
L/2

Parchment
Book
Medieval art

On view

Query
Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Carolingian evangeliary with depictions of the evangelists

This collection of the four Gospels impresses by the vibrant colours of its paintings which bear witness to the multitude of cultural influences in carolingian times.

It is hard to believe that this handwritten book of parchment sheets is far more than one thousand years old. Its paintings still shine in their bright colors which were mostly applied unmixed next to each other. We almost see the monk in his scriptorium when we look at the full-page picture opposite the text page. He dips his quill into the inkwell in concentrated composure and drafts one letter after the other on the lines he has scratched into the parchment with a precise eye. He copies the four Gospels of the Holy Bible in Latin from another codex, relying on four different scripts considered as particularly sublime, varying the letter heights. The largest script to be found at the beginning of each Gospel goes back to antiquity and is still in use today as block lettering. The evangeliary is used for reading the Gospel in ceremonial masses. The magnificent formal design was seen as a means to underscore the holiness of the book.

Writing or rather copying the Gospels was regarded as a highly valuable work so that their authors, the Evangelists, were represented as scribes (Marc is missing). They were even furnished with a wordly ruler’s signs of dignity: throne and footstool.

The corners of the richly ornamented frames are given special emphasis. On the one hand, we find (acanthus) leaves, which were a common decorative element since antiquity, on the other interlacing patterns making us think of Norman art. Such interlacing patterns as well as the dragon motifs and the rendering of initials of text pages as independent subjects in their own right were brought to Europe by Irish monks on their missionary travels. Carolingian art, and above all the Court School of Charlemagne, developed a completely original approach based on a combination of ancient and Nordic (insular) elements as evidenced by this extraordinary evangeliary.