Description

This beautifully illuminated copy of the Greek Gospels was created in two stages. The text was copied out in the 2nd half of the 10th century, at which time illuminated headpieces and initials were also added. The full-page portraits of the Evangelists at the beginning of each Gospel were added to the manuscript two centuries later.

The portraits have been identified as the work of the Kokkinobaphos Master, a monk based in the Kokkinobaphos Monastery in Constantinople. Mark and Luke were painted on pages that had been left blank in the 10th century. Matthew and John were inserted on additional leaves.

It is likely that the volume belonged to the imperial Comnenus family, which ruled Byzantium for most of the 12th century, and was taken to Rome by Constantine Comnenus (d. 1531) when he was exiled from Greece. It was in the collection of the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome by the mid-18th century, and later was acquired by Charles Burney (1757-1817). The British Museum acquired Burney’s vast collection of manuscripts, theatrical ephemera, and newspapers in 1818.

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