Elina N. Dobrynina

Senior Research Fellow, State Institute of Art Studies, Moscow; Grabar Art Conservation Centre, Moscow, Russia

Illuminated Manuscripts from the Family of the Hippiatrika Codex (Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Phillipps 1538)

  • Summary/Abstract

    Two manuscripts discussed in this paper – the Homilies of Gregory the Theologian GIM Syn. gr. 63 (Vlad. 144) and the Four Gospels ÖNB Theol. gr. 240 – were examined for a special study, the results of which were published in 2009 and 2013. They both are unique examples of tenth-century Byzantine book illustration, remarkable for their unusual ornamental style. The study revealed the decoration, datable to the 940s, as a work of one and the same artist, conditionally referred to as the ‘Master of the Arabesque Style’. His ornamental style is unique in the history of the Byzantine manuscript book, only existing for a short period and evidently corresponding to the activity of this one illuminator. The manuscript Berlin, Phillipps 1538, which contains a Treatise on Horse Medicine, has appeared in many publications. However, its artistic decoration has not yet received the elucidation it merits. After a new research using colour reproductions it transpired that many of the Berlin codex folios were actually decorated by the same artist as the Vienna and Synodal manuscripts. The assumption that one artist devised the three manuscripts under scrutiny brings to the conclusion that the Vienna Gospels should be classed among manuscripts from the Imperial scriptorium and dated to the period from 945 to 959. With regard to the development of minuscule script, the scribe responsible for the Hippiatrika obviously was regarded as a distinguished calligrapher, whose earliest activities should be sought in the first quarter of the century. The archaic characteristics found in the codex are in accordance with the illumination. Therefore the Berlin manuscript should be used as a reference for the attribution of manuscripts from the second half of the tenth century.


On the Developing Iconography of the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah: Inscriptions to Miniatures and Text Commentaries in Manuscripts of the Ninth to... Scripta & e-Scripta vol. 10-11, 2012 floyd Wed, 12/26/2012 - 12:10

On the Developing Iconography of the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah: Inscriptions to Miniatures and Text Commentaries in Manuscripts of the Ninth to Thirteenth Centuries / Peter Landesmann’s important treatise Die Himmelfahrt des Elija systematises the written and pictorial sources of iconography for the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah. Since Landesmann concentrates his attention on artistic monuments up to and including the fifth century AD, and on written sources describing that stage in development of this iconography, his research does not extend to its further evolution. Leslie Brubaker examines the particularities of ninth-century miniatures depicting the Ascent of the Prophet Elijah in her book Vision and Meaning in Ninth-Century Byzantium: Image as Exegesis in the Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus, ascribing all the images to a single biblical source –4 Kings 2: 11–13. Consequently scholars have so far disregarded the fact that most scenes portraying the Ascent from the fifth century onwards belong to one of two variants: one shows an area of empty space between the Prophets Elijah and Elisha, and in the other both figures are contiguous – their hands hold the mantle which forms the obvious centre of the composition. The paper examines additional sources on the given topic, specifically the inscriptions to miniatures or the corresponding places in illustrated texts. In result it reaches to the conclusion that the two iconographic variants come from a common biblical source, but represent events described in different verses of 4 Kings 2: the first, the most ancient version, from verses 11 to 13; the second variant, based on the first, from verses 9 to 10. In the examples mentioned here the shift of emphasis from one event to another (from the Ascent of Elijah to his proffering the mantle to Elisha) is expressed by both pictorial and written means.

Literary Texts // Medieval iconography // The Ascent of the Prophet Elijah // Text commentaries //
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