From the Vault: Lindau Gospels

Colin B. Bailey, Director of the Morgan Library & Museum, discusses the Lindau Gospels, one of the great masterpieces from the collection. Named after the Abbey of Lindau on Lake Constance (Germany), where it was once housed, its jeweled covers constitute one of the most important of all medieval treasure bindings. Quite unusually, the manuscript’s exquisite covers are in fact from entirely different regions and moments in time. Dating to the late eighth century, the back cover is the earliest component of the book and was likely made in the region around Salzburg (Austria). The front cover, in contrast, dates to nearly a hundred years later (ca. 870–80) and was likely produced in what is today eastern France. The manuscript itself is later still (ca. 880–90), and was certainly written and illuminated in the monastery of St. Gall (Switzerland). At some unknown point in time, precious silks from Byzantium and the Middle East were attached to the inside covers of the manuscript, thus adding yet another layer of complexity to this fascinating object.