MINIATURIST, German
(active around 800 in Aachen)

The Vienna Coronation Gospels

c. 800
Manuscript (Inv. XIII 18), 324 x 249 mm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Charlemagne had assembled a staff of scribes and miniaturists at his palace in Aachen, and they were responsible for a number of manuscripts, of which the Godescalc Gospels is thought to be the earliest. Eight of the magnificent works produced by this court school have survived entire, along with a fragment of another. The latest of these, the Soissons Gospels and the Lorsch Gospels date from the early ninth century. This group of manuscripts is referred to as the Group of the Vienna Coronation Gospels.

In the Vienna Coronation Gospels, there was a special effort to create a synthesis of the late antique, Hellenistic and Byzantine artistic legacies. It is written - in a single column -on purple parchment in gold and silver ink. Uncials (majuscule script with rounded unjoined letters) were used for the gospel texts, with all other passages being written in monumental rustic capitals.

Traditionally, the codex is considered to be the same manuscript that was found in the tomb of Charlemagne when it was opened in the year 1000 by Otto III.

The manuscript of 236 folios contains the four Latin gospels plus prologues and the capitulary. It is illustrated with four full-page evangelist portraits and 16 canon tables.

Folio 76v depicts St Mark the Evangelist. His voluminous figure is swathed in pseudo-classical robes which envelop his body in soft and luxuriant folds. In a solemn pose, he faces the observer with a stern look, holding a scroll in his left hand which is raised.. In his right hand , he is holding a pen which is dipping into an inkwell on a stand in the left margin. The miniature has suffered damage, with some of the colours having faded.