Gospel Book (MS M.651)


Marking a break from local painting traditions in Cologne, this Gospel book demonstrates the influence of artistic developments at the island monastery of Reichenau, an important center of Ottonian patronage. The portrait of Matthew features an expansive gold background, faintly articulated with golden vegetal motifs at bottom and nearly imperceptible golden stars above. Matthew’s symbol, a winged man, emerges from the architecture to offer him a scroll. The facing page combines Reichenau traits—the curved L, for example, and the anchoring of the initial to the frame—with elements more local to Cologne, such as the portrait medallions, inspired by ancient coinage. Although the patron of this manuscript is unknown, its illumination points to the high standing of Cologne, whose bishops were often active as chancellors at court.

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Gospel Book, in Latin
Germany, Cologne, ca. 1030
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.651, fols. 8v–9r
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1920