Gospel Book

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MS M.728
Gospel Book
Reims, France, ca. 860.
French 18th-century red morocco gilt with the arms of the Abbey of Saint-Remi on spine. Medieval wood boards possibly still present. Outsides of boards re-covered with panels of 19th-century russet sheepskin, 19th-century clasps at fore-edge; in blue buckram clamshell box (formerly in tan half-case).
Purchased in 1927.
192 leaves (1 column, 21 lines), bound : vellum, ill. ; 303 x 258 mm
Executed in Reims during the time of Archbishop Hincmar (845-882); rebound in the 18th century and arms of the Abbaye de St-Remy stamped on back; at the monastery at least until 1790, when the Revolutionary authorities removed 248 manuscripts; sale of the bookseller Savoye (Paris, May 28, 1828, lot 11); J.L. Bourdillon (catalogue, 1830, p. 2-3, no. 4); purchased by Robert S. Holford from Payne and Foss; purchased for the Pierpont Morgan Library from the Holford estate in Nov. 1927.

Ms. Gospel book; written and illuminated in Reims, France, probably at the Abbaye de St-Remy (the Abbey of Saint-Remi), ca. 860.
Decoration: written in gold; 4 full-page Evangelist portrait miniatures; 4 illuminated incipit pages; 1 decorated canon tables.

Caroline minuscule

The most distinctive and influential center of Carolingian illumination was Reims, which flourished during the reigns of Charlemagne and his successors. This, the only Reims Gospel Book written in gold, is the finest of the Morgan's dozen Carolingian manuscripts. St. Remi was then under the brilliant leadership of Archbishop Hincmar (845–82), counselor of Emperor Charles the Bald (r. 840–77), grandson of Charlemagne. As is usual in illustrated Gospel Books, a "portrait" of an Evangelist precedes each of the four Gospels. Such author portraits were derived from antique models; here Luke wears a Roman toga and holds a basket containing scrolls, the standard book form in antiquity.