Illuminated volume of the New Testament


Dated to the second half of the 12th century because of its script and decoration, this large manuscript of the New Testament begins with a series of painted canon tables, detailing parallel and unique passages in the Four Gospels. The decoration of the tables includes portraits of Christ and eleven of his Apostles. Enlarged historiated initials mark the beginnings of different sections of the Latin text. Some contain representations of the Evangelists Sts Matthew, Mark and John writing their Gospels, while others depict scenes from the New Testament, including the Baptism of Christ by St John the Baptist and the life and deeds of the apostle St Paul. 

A 14th-century inscription on one of the manuscript’s opening pages indicates that it once belonged to the priory of Deffès in the diocese of Agen in southwestern France. The book subsequently passed into the collection of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre de Moissac. 

This manuscript was digitised with the support of The Polonsky Foundation.

Full title:
Illuminated volume of the New Testament
1171–1180, Southern France
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
Bibliothèque nationale de France
Latin 252

Full catalogue details

Related articles

French manuscript illumination

Article by:
Charlotte Denoël
Art and illumination, Making manuscripts, Christian religion and belief

Drawings and painted decoration in manuscripts ornamented the text as well as illustrated or commented on it. Charlotte Denoël outlines the history of manuscript art in early medieval France.

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