MINIATURIST, Irish
(active around 750 in Ireland)

Gospel Book

c. 750
Manuscript (Cod. Sang. 51), 295 x 225 mm
Stiftsbibliothek, Abbey of St. Gall, St. Gallen

This Irish Gospel Book contains 268 pages (134 folios) with the Latin Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is illustrated with 12 decorated pages, written and illuminated by Irish monks around 750 in Ireland. Amongst the illustrated pages are a Crucifixion, a Last Judgement, a Chi Rho monogram page, a carpet page, and Evangelist portraits.

The Abbey of St. Gall in the hills above Lake Constance in Switzerland was founded in the eight century where early seventh-century hermit, Saint Gall, had settled and died. He was an Irish monk and one of the traditional twelve companions of St Columbanus on his Hiberno-Scottish mission to the continent. The abbey maintained close links with Ireland and England in its early centuries. The Gospel Book probably reached the community at St. Gall during the course of the ninth century. It has remained there ever since.

The picture shows the portrait of St Mark on folio 78. Features characterizing Irish book production can be seen in this page. The dense spiral patterns from Iona (e.g. Book of Durrow) become "disentangled" and reorganize themselves into the figure of the Evangelist. the evangelists' symbols placed in the corners of the page are hardly distinguishable from the dense vine scroll decoration in the other parts of the side margin.