BIBLOITECA MEDICCEA LAURENZIANA MS AMIATINUS I BIBLE (VULGATE, CODEX
AMIATINUS)LATE 7TH CENTURY
CALFSKIN 505 X 340 MM
This Bible is quite different from the previous entries; it is much more influenced by Mediterranean decoration styles. The artist clearly wished to incorporate such models to the exclusion of Insular style.
The trend toward a Mediterranean style of illumination is associated with the twin monasteries of Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, at one of which this manuscript was made. While the Mediterranean style did have some influence, it was not used as widely as the Insular style. This Bible is a copy of the 6th-century Codex Grandior, now lost, which was a pandect, a full Bible containing both the Old and New Testaments. Three copies were made of it, of which this is the only known to survive. (According to Bruce-Mitford, two or three similar leaves, with the same dimensions, number of lines, and uncial script as the Codex Amiatinus are in the british Museum; they are called the Middleton leaves. Another similar leaf was found in a Newcastle bookshop in 1909.) The Codex Amiatinus was given by Ceolfrid, the Abbot of Monkwearmouth/Jarrow, to Pope Gregory II. The Codex Grandior was also the model for the portrait of Matthew in the Lindisfarne Gospels.
This is a very large book: Bruce-Mitford says its 1,030 folios weigh over 75 pounds. Each bifolium required one entire calfskin.
The two major illuminations of the Codex Amiatinus are the portrait of Ezra and the depiction of Christ in majesty. The portrait of Ezra in particular is done in the late antique illusionistic style; the forms are modeled in light and dark areas and the color is naturalistic. This is markedly different from the abstract image of Matthewís symbol, the Man, in the Book of Durrow. The page depicting Christ in Majesty is less classicized. One reason for this is that the Codex Grandior may not have contained a page of this type.
The use of gold also indicates Byzantine influence, which is supported by the iconographical similarity of the Ezra portrait to a 10th century Byzantine portrait of St. Matthew. So completely did the artist assimilate Mediterranean influence that it was thought at one time that he was Byzantine, and even that the miniature itself was from the Codex Grandior and had been bound into the Codex Amiatinus. The portrait of Ezra is the first example of the author portrait style to emerge in an Insular manuscript; the author is shown writing, with his books in a case behind him.
The Codex Amiatinus also
includes an interesting two-page layout of a sort of aerial view of the Tabernacle
in the Temple at Jerusalem.
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