MINIATURIST, Greek
(active 925-950 in Constantinople)

Bible of Leo the Patrician

925-50
Manuscript (Reg. gr. 1B), 410 x 270 mm
Biblioteca Apostolica, Vatican

This manuscript, produced in the Court Scriptorium in Constantinople, is the first and only extant volume of what was originally a two-volume set containing the entire Bible in Greek. It was produced in the first half of the tenth century and contains the books Genesis through Psalms. It is famous mainly for its splendid miniatures, which have been separated from the main volume and given their own shelfmark (Reg. gr. 1B), though their folio numbers reflect their positions in the original manuscript. A prefatory poem indicates that the volume was commissioned by one Leo Patrikios, and it is consequently sometimes referred to as the 'Bible of Leo the Patrician' or simply the 'Leo Bible.'

The manuscript contains 567 folios and is illustrated with 13 miniature pages. One of them (folio 155v) depicts Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Following the iconoclasm Byzantine book illumination unfurled numerous precious manuscripts of unprecedented splendour. The influence of Antiquity led to pronounced illusionism. One such effect is perceptible in this miniature, which is more marked by naturalism, which heralds the departure from the antique ideal of beauty.