Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex Facsimile Edition

Monastery of Sahagún (Léon, Spain) — 1151–1200

Miniatures of haunting beauty: in some respects perhaps the most interesting of the 27 Beatus manuscripts that have survived to the present day

  1. The most interesting of the 27 illustrated Beatus manuscripts that are known today

  2. Signs of wear point to a tumultuous ownership history and regular use

  3. The miniatures have a primordial character and are set against a luminous orange background

Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

The Corsini Codex has an exciting history of possession to tell that travels from Spain to Italy. The Beautus manuscript probably originates from the second half of the 12th century in the Sahagún Monastery in Spain. The remarkable Mozarabic style of the miniatures express themselves in the simple perfection of the depictions, which are set against a luminous orange colored background and are flamboyantly colored in some parts, incomplete in others. For this reason and through the discernable signs of usage, the checkered history and the practical application of the manuscript indicates that it was not only prized as a collectible, but also found regular use. As a result of this it is considered to be the most interesting of the 27 illustrated Beatus manuscripts that are known today.

Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

The Corsini Codex has an exciting history of possession to tell, that travels from Spain to Italy. The Beautus manuscript probably originates from the second half of the 12th century in the Sahagún Monastery in Spain. The remarkable Mozarabic style of the miniatures express themselves in the simple perfection of the depictions, which are set against a luminous orange colored background and are flamboyantly colored in some parts, incomplete in others. For this reason and through the discernable signs of usage, the checkered history and the practical application of the manuscript indicates that it was not only prized as a collectible, but also found regular use. As a result of this it is considered to be the most interesting of the 27 illustrated Beatus manuscripts that are known today.

A Beatus as a Treasure

In an unusually small format for a Beatus Manuscript of 16.7 x 9.7 cm, the Corsini Codex collects the most-influential Apocalypse commentary by Beatus of Liébana with gorgeous miniatures. Altogether, 10 miniatures adorn the 243 pages of the manuscript. Not only do the miniatures have an archaic and primordial character to their style, but so does the manuscript as a whole. The script, sometimes written in red ink, is recorded in Carolingian miniscule with Gothic echoes.

Impressive Miniatures

In terms of pictorial adornment, some make mention of a table with symbolic and referential content that adorns the codex. However, others are to be mentioned, especially the mostly half-page miniatures that illustrated the text. Simple borders surround the luminous orange-colored backgrounds, against which the scenes play out. In terms of content, the pictures are concerned with the tales of John and the angel of the church of Sardis, of the Antichrist who destroys Jerusalem, of Christ in the clouds, or of the angels of the apocalypse. Not just the completed miniatures are interesting. Also the incomplete, unfinished drawings make the manuscript something special, allowing the codex’s process of formation to be understood.
The style of the manuscript’s illumination can be attributed to Spain. The paintings appear simple and withdrawn. The two-dimensionality of the figures and the absence of depictions of nature indicate the Mozarabic style. This finds its clearest expression in the Corsini Codex.

From Spain to Italy

The estimation of the Corsini Codex’s worth is not clear judging by the manuscript’s signs of use. Also its history of ownership impressively describes how the specialness of this Beatus manuscript was already always agreed upon. Under King Philip IV of Spain, the codex was pilfered from Sahagún by the Count of Olivares. The manuscript then came in to the possession of the writer and librarian Juan Lucas Cortés. The Italian Cardinal Francesco Acquaviva acquired the Beatus at the beginning of the 18th century and brought it from Spain to Italy. There it was acquired by Cardinal Bartolomeo Corsini in 1723, whose library composed cornerstone of the Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana in Rome.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Beato de la Biblioteca Corsiniana
Beatus of Liebana from the Corsini Library
Beatus Corsiniana
Size / Format
342 pages / 16.7 × 9.7 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
1151–1200
Style
Language
Illustrations
10 miniatures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Count Duke of Olivares
Lucas Juan Cortés
Cardinal Francesco Acquaviva
Cardinal Bartolomeo Corsini

Available facsimile editions:
Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex – Cors. 369 (40 E. 6) – Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana (Rome, Italy) Facsimile Edition
Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2010
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Detail Picture

Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

Unfinished Lamb of God

With one large eye, holding its iconic cross-staff, and adorned by the cross-halo normally reserved for Christ and God the Father, this incomplete miniature depicts the Lamb of God, which is one of the most prominent figures in the Book of Revelation. However, what scene is supposed to be depicted here cannot be discerned because the miniature is incomplete. Even the frame just seems to end as though the artist was interrupted by someone or something and then simply forgot to finish it.

Beato de la Biblioteca Corsiniana
Single Page

Beatus of Liébana - Corsini Codex

The Two Witnesses Killed by the Antichrist

Revelation 11 describes the “two witnesses” clothed in sackcloth who will prophesy for 1,260 days and to whom power is given by God to stop the rain, turn waters into blood, and unleash plagues upon the earth. This naturally does not make them popular and when they are killed by the Beast, the people celebrate for three and a half days, leaving their bodies unburied.

They are then resurrected by God, striking great fear into those that saw them, and they then ascend into heaven in the sight of their enemies. The two witnesses are depicted here being dragged by their hair out of a building with distinctive Moorish horseshoe arches. One is then brought to the foreground where his throat is slit by a man wearing a strange square hat.

Beato de la Biblioteca Corsiniana
Facsimile Editions

#1 Beato de la Biblioteca Corsiniana

Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2010

Publisher: Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2010
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Binding: Leather binding with metal clasp
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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