MINIATURIST, English
(active around 750 in Canterbury)

Codex Aureus

c. 750
Manuscript (Ms. A. 135), 395 x 314 mm
Konigliga Biblioteket, Stockholm

This Latin manuscript was produced in England, possibly in a scriptorium in Canterbury. It contains 193 folios with the four gospels. Two evangelist portraits survive from the original four.

The picture shows two facing pages, folios 9v and 10r. The left page represents St Matthew, in classical garb, solemnly enthroned beneath a pillared arcade, with lacework decorating his royal seat. On the following page the birth of Christ is described ("Christi autem generatio"). This offers scope for one of the highlights of script ornamentation, the ligature of Christ monogram, the linking of the Greek letters X and P (chi-rho), to form a single initial.

In the upper and lower margin of the right-hand page is an inscription in Anglo-Saxon recording how the precious book was ransomed for gold from the pagan Norsemen by one Aldorman Aelfred in the ninth century.