A masterpiece from the famous scriptorium in Echternach: pastel-colored miniatures and golden initials in a gorgeous manuscript

Echternach Pericopes

Echternach Abbey (Luxembourg) — Around 1030

Echternach Pericopes

Echternach Pericopes

Echternach Abbey (Luxembourg) — Around 1030

  1. Gospel manuscript from the famous Echternach Abbey in handy format

  2. 41 gold-embossed miniatures in catchy colors and 13 magnificent initial ornamental pages bear witness to influences from late antiquity, Byzantium and Carolingian art

  3. First cycle of images on the history of St. Stephen: medieval excavations with hoe and spade

Echternacher Evangelistar

Echternach Pericopes

Incipit Page: Mark 16

Large initials created with elaborate interlace and the generous employment of gold leaf were a common feature of Ottonian illuminated manuscripts. This fine “M” initial has been made all the more striking by the stark contrast with the purple background and introduces the discovery of Christ’s empty tomb by three of his disciples. “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.” (Mk. 16:1)

Echternach Pericopes

Alternative Titles:
  • Echternacher Evangelistar
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Echternach Pericopes came from the scriptorium of the Salian Abbey of Echternach and arose ca. 1030. It is the most splendid and precious codex from the famous abbey and contains liturgical texts from the four Gospels, arranged according to the holidays of the church year. This masterwork of illumination is furnished with numerous wonderful paintings, which are embellished with gold, purple, silk, and the costliest of dyes.

The Echternach Pericopes

In the 11th century the Salian abbey of Echternach, whose history goes back to A.D. 690, possessed one of the most famous scriptoria in the medieval world and one of the most splendid libraries in all of the Occident. A gem originating from this writing workshop was the Echtenach Pericopes. The corpus is a collection of excerpts from the Pericopes that are ordered around the feast days of the church calendar and are intended for reading during mass. On 155 pages decorated in the most luxurious manner, the stories of the Bible are recorded in word and illustration.

The Salian Book Hoard

The Echternach Pericopes originated in 1030. At this time, the scriptorium of the Salian house monastery was in its most creative period. The corpus is not the result of a special commission, but rather the monks of the abbey kept the luxuriously decorated book as proof of their artistic ability and to assure their place in the highest tier of Occidental book art. Today this fine manuscript is to be found in the Royal Belgian Library in Brussels.

A Firework of Book Illustration

The monks of Echternach shied away from neither cost nor labor for the numerous decorations of the manuscript. The corpus begins with a true masterpiece of miniature painting. A full-paged depiction of the Maiestas Domini, the beloved image of Christ on his throne surrounded by four symbols of the pericopes, was painted in the charmingly simple color scheme of kingly purple and gold. Following this work of art are the portraits of the four evangelists and a few depictions of other saints, for which nonetheless no luxurious gold elements were spared. In total one finds 41 illustrations decorated with gold, 13 richly appointed pages of text, and more than 250 bold multiline initials in the codex.

Originals from Echternach

The Echternach Pericopes are especially interesting not only because of the impressively expensive materials that were chosen, but also for its thrilling new style of manuscript illumination. At first glance, the depictions appear to be rather simple, however upon further examination, the various influences that the Echternach monks combined with one another become apparent. Late Antique, Byzantine, and Carolingian examples served them, but they also found inspiration from contemporary painting techniques. The result was an unmistakable collection of stirring pictures of the life of Jesus Christ, scenes of which are depicted in a manner never before seen.

Inspiring New Stories in Pictures

A few details of the corpus are especially worthy of note, which one could say mark a revolution of monastic book making. The Annunciation to the Shepherds is a distinctive feature. The scene was not treated as a part of Christ’s birth, as had been previously done, but stood instead as its own extensive and cohesive miniature. Luminous colors were chosen, which interact brilliantly within golden framing. Furthermore, it features the first picture cycle concerning the story of St. Stephen, which depicts the excavation work done by the common people, i.e. the search and discovery of the martyr's bones. Astonishingly exact pictures show workers with hammers and shovels, vintners who were paid for their services with gold pieces, and further everyday scenes from medieval life that were previously never held to be worthy of depiction. The Echternach Pericopes, with this sprawling diversity of stories and richness of illustration, created something to inspire the beholder to this day.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Echternacher Evangelistar
Size / Format
310 pages / 20.5 x 14.7 cm
Date
Around 1030
Language
Illustrations
41 mostly full-page miniatures, 13 generously decorated text pages and more than 250 lavishly ornate gold initials
Echternacher Evangelistar

Echternach Pericopes

Christ in Majesty

The so-called Maiestas Domini is one of the most popular images in Western Christian art. Modelled on depictions of the Roman Emperor, Christ is always depicted enthroned, framed by a mandorla, and flanked by other holy figures, in this case the Evangelist symbols. This image serves as the frontispiece of one of Echternach’s greatest creations.

Painted in the royal colors of purple and gold, this is a true masterpiece. Although sitting, the burnished gold background makes Christ appear as though he is floating with the Alpha and Omega symbols barely visible above his shoulders. His piercing gaze looks through the beholder, not merely at them. The powerful image conveys a timeless, spaceless feel approximating the eternal nature of God.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Echternach Pericopes“

Echternacher Evangelistar
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
Echternach Pericopes – ms. 9428 – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Bruxelles, Belgium)
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Echternacher Evangelistar

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 2006 / 2007
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
The facsimile is protected by a faithful replica of the current binding, a half-leather binding with heavy oakwood covers and a clasp of brass. The Fine Art Facsimile volume and its commentary both come in a noble wooden box. The cover of the box is an elaborate replica of a bone carving inlaid with ornate openwork containing partly painted decorative plates. This work of art is today preserved in the arch-abbey of St Peter in Salzburg where it decorates the binding of a Gospel Book of the Salian period from the 12th century. It thus provides a fitting cover for the Echternach Pericopes.
Commentary
1 volume (376 pages) by Anton von Euw, Bernard Bousmanne and Martina Pippal
Languages: French, German
Price Category: €€
Edition available
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