Containing the earliest portrait of an Evangelist in book illumination: one of the oldest surviving and most fascinating Gospel books in history on purple parchment

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Asia Minor — 6th century

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

Asia Minor — 6th century

  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

Alternative Titles:
  • Rossano Gospels
  • Rossano-Evangeliar
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

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 x 26.0 cm
Date
6th century
Language
Illustrations
15 illuminated pages with gold ornaments
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

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.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Codex Purpureus Rossanensis“

Codex Purpureus Rossanensis
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – Museo dell'Arcivescovado di Rossano Calabro (Rossano Calabro, Italy)
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Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1985
Limited Edition
750
Binding
Wooden covers and half leather (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 G. Cavall and W. C. Loerke
Languages: English, Italian

The commentary volume provides a comprehensive, detailed introduction to the codex and its miniatures.

G. Cavallo, Rome; W. C. Loerke, Washington; text in English and Italian with an abstract in German, 213 pages in the same size as the facsimile volume, with numerous illustrations, 4 colour plates, cloth.
More Information
All folios are cut and the single layers are stitched according to the original. Under the High Patronage of the president of the Italian Republic. The codex dates from the 6th century, Asia Minor or Antiochia. This codex appears also as vol. 1 within th
Details
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Regular price without login (like new)3,650 €
Login for a Better Price!
Codex Purpureus Rossanensis
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Codex Purpureus Rossanensis

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Salerno Editrice – Rome, 1985
Limited Edition
750 copies (co-edition with ADEVA)
Binding
Wooden covers and half leather (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
More Information
All folios are cut and the single layers are stitched according to the original. Under the High Patronage of the president of the Italian Republic. The codex dates from the 6th century, Asia Minor or Antiochia. This codex appears also as vol. 1 within th
Details
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
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