MINIATURIST, German
(active early 9th century in Aachen)

Gospels of Saint-Médard de Soissons

around 810
Manuscript (Ms. lat. 8850), 362 x 267 mm
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

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.

Gospels of Saint Médard was gifted by Emperor Louis I the Pious, son of Charlemagne (reigned 813-840) and his queen Judith to the church of Saint-Médard in Soissons in 827. The manuscript with 239 folios, especially rich in its decorations, was originally in the possession of Charlemagne. It contains the four gospels in Latin, 6 full-page miniatures and 12 canon tables.

The Soissons Gospels, produced in the closing years of Charlemagne's life, is the most stupendous of the Group of the Vienna Coronation Gospels. It shows the "style Charlemagne" at its peak.

The picture shows St John the Evangelist on folio 180v. In this miniature two kinds of architecture can be observed: one that fulfills a framing function and one that has an illustrative role. The first type includes the architectural elements such as columns and arches which are integrated into the painted framework presenting the Evangelist. The city wall, on the other hand, is , with its front section representing the throne of the Evangelist, is meant as a reference to constructed architecture and also to the Heavenly Jerusalem.