Dawes Illuminated Gospel-book


Created in the early 14th century, probably on Cyprus, this manuscript of the Gospels contains illuminations of the four Evangelists. Badly damaged after centuries of wear, it is nonetheless possible to get a sense of the splendour these portraits once had. Their characteristic Byzantine colours of gold, reds, blues, and pinks are still clearly visible.

The headpieces at the beginning of each Gospel are lavishly illuminated. The decoration marks the manuscript as being part of the ‘Decorative Style Group’, a cluster of manuscripts that share specific artistic and calligraphic features pointing to an origin in Cyprus or the Levant.

A note on the final leaf records the date of 1314-15, which is likely the year in which the manuscript was created. It cannot be confirmed whether this note is in the same hand as that of the scribe of the rest of the manuscript. Additional notes point to the manuscript’s survival through the turbulent centuries that followed, including reference to a Turkish raid in 1426.

The British Museum acquired the manuscript along with 11 others from J. S. Dawes, chaplain at Corfu, in 1904.

Full title:
Dawes Illuminated Gospel-book
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 37002

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