Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)

Asia Minor β€” 6th century

Containing the earliest portrait of an Evangelist in book illumination: one of the oldest preserved and most fascinating Gospels in history, written entirely in gold and silver on purple parchment

  1. A priceless specimen from a period of transition from classical to more abstract forms in Byzantine art

  2. Written throughout in silver and gold majuscules and decorated with masterful miniatures

  3. The portrait of Saint Mark is of particular interest as the oldest representation of an Evangelist in book art

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Purple-dyed vellum provided scribes and illuminators with the opportunity to make use of unusual color palettes that emphasized the sumptuous and expensive nature of such materials. Bright colors, even pastels, as well as gold and silver contrast particularly well with the purple backgrounds. These manuscripts were usually the result of imperial commissions, hence the use of imperial purple. The Codex Purpureus Rossanensis is one of the three oldest purple manuscripts to survive today and dates from the 6th century. It is a priceless specimen of 6th century Byzantine art and marks a period of stylistic transition from classical to more abstract forms of representation. The text is beautifully and uniformly written in gold and silver ink and the manuscript additionally features 15 full-page miniatures, and more.

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

The Codex Purpureus Rossanensis or Rossano Gospels, created nearly 1500 years ago, is arguably one of the most valuable and fascinating manuscripts in the world for a variety of reasons, the most astounding of which is that it is one of three of the oldest purple illustrated manuscripts in the world. It enraptures the viewer with 15 pages of perfectly designed miniatures which constitute an invaluable and irreplaceable testimony to Byzantine art during the 6th century. Its appearance expresses a purely regal air and the well-known purple dyed parchment sheets found within have made this manuscript famous worldwide. The Greek text stretches over 386 pages and is written in silver and golden majuscules throughout. Unfortunately the manuscript is today incomplete, as half of its original 800 pages have been lost over the ages. The current version encompasses the complete Gospel of Saint Matthew and almost the entire Gospel of Saint Mark.

15 Rare Miniatures

The significance of this book is further strengthened by the fact that only a few of the purple parchment codices created during the Late Classic Period were illustrated with miniatures. Some of the luxurious miniatures painted by the most talented artists of the time cover entire pages while others are set above or between flowing text creating a frieze-like style. Both theme and presentation style are based on earlier models, most likely monumental wall paintings. The miniatures are said to be the finest examples of early Byzantine art preserved to this day.

The Oldest Picture of an Evangelist in the History of Illumination

The author’s portrait of Saint Mark is of particular interest is, as it constitutes the oldest representation of an Evangelist in the history of illumination. The Codex Rossanensis stands apart from older manuscripts of the same kind due to its novel and peculiar stylistic design. The miniatures manifest a strong inclination toward Byzantine art and fascinate the viewer due to their representative and monumental expression. In our codex, the classical way of painting was abandoned for the first time and a new step was taken forward toward a more abstract early Byzantine art. This makes the Codex Purpureus Rossanensis ** one of the most significant documents of Eastern illumination**.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Rossano Gospels
Rossano-Evangeliar
Size / Format
386 pages / 30.7 Γ— 26.0 cm
Origin
Turkey
Date
6th century
Language
Script
Biblical Greek majuscule Ogival Greek majuscule
Illustrations
15 illuminated pages with gold ornaments
Content
The entire Gospel of Matthew and most of the Gospel of Mark, part of the Letter of Eusebius to Carpianus explaining his Canon Tables

Available facsimile editions:
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1985
Limited Edition: 750 copies

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Salerno Editrice – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1985
Limited Edition: 750 copies (co-edition with ADEVA)
Detail Picture

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Silver Ink and Purple Dye

Purple is the color of emperors; it was also an incredibly expensive dye whose use was limited to members of the imperial family of the Byzantine Empire. Parchment folios dyed purple allowed artists to contrast bright colors against a dark background. Only a masterful hand could have been entrusted with a commission that required silver ink and the uniformity with which the text has been written affirms this assumption. Unfortunately, the scribe responsible for this splendor remains anonymous.

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Single Page

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

The Good Samaritan

This early-Byzantine miniature is one of the oldest surviving images from the New Testament, remarkable for the refinement of its artistry and the expense of the gold, silver, and purple parchment paper used in its creation. In small portraits at the bottom of the page, four prophets from the Old Testament appear, who herald and point out the events above.

The architecture to the left is Jerusalem. An angel dressed in luminous white robes helps the Good Samaritan care for the man who has been robbed, stripped, and left for dead. To the right, he entrusts the man to the care of an innkeeper, whom he pays for his trouble. The cross-bearing halo around the Good Samaritan’s head indicates the artists has interpreted the scene allegorically.

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Publisher: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1985
Limited Edition: 750 copies
Binding: Wooden covers and half leather binding (faithful replica of the original binding). All folios are cut and the single layers are stitched according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (213 pages) by Guglielmo Cavall and William C. Loerke
Languages: English, Italian
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. All folios are cut and the single layers are stitched according to the original.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)

#2 Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1985

Publisher: Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1985
Limited Edition: 750 copies (co-edition with ADEVA)
Binding: Wooden covers and half leather binding (faithful replica of the original binding). All folios are cut and the single layers are stitched according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (216 pages) by Guglielmo Cavallo, Jean Gribomont, and William C. Loerke
Languages: English, Italian, French
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. All folios are cut and the single layers are stitched according to the original.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
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