FOUR GOSPELS, in Armenian, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER
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FOUR GOSPELS, in Armenian, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER

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FOUR GOSPELS, in Armenian, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON PAPER

[Probably New Julfa (Isfahan), 1651]
200mm. x 145mm. 52 leaves, mostly in gatherings of twelve numbered on first recto and final verso, two columns of 23 lines written in black ink in a bolorgir hand between four verticals ruled in red, justification: 145 x 45-9-45mm, concordance numbers in lower margins in small bolorgir, rubrics in red, versals in blue or red, ILLUMINATED BIRD-SHAPE CHAPTER INITIALS accompanied by MARGINAL BIRDS OR TREES, the manuscript opening with EIGHT CHRISTOLOGICAL FULL-PAGE MINIATURES followed by TEN ILLUMINATED PAGES WITH CANON TABLES between columns and architraves dotted with birds, all in colours heightened with gold (soiled and waterstained throughout, many leaves torn, some with loss, the illuminations rubbed, the last severely). 17th-century leather over wooden boards, the upper cover with a white metal crucifix, cornerpieces and bosses (slightly worn). Modern cloth box.

PROVENANCE:
The colophon reveals that Gharibjan commissioned this manuscript of the Four Gospels as a memorial for himself, his wife and children and other relatives in the Armenian year 1100 (A.D.1651) in the reign of Shah Abbas (Shah Abbas II). An inscription in English on f.252 records its purchase in 1731, again in the reign of Shah Abbas, presumably a confused reference to Shah Abbas III, who at eight months old was made nominal ruler of Persia after his father was deposed in 1732. The ownership of a priest Hohannes in 1831 is recorded in an Armenian note on the opening folio.
TEXT AND ILLUMINATION: Prefatory cycle of miniatures; Eusebian letter and Canon Tables; The Four Gospels.

ILLUMINATION:
This manuscript, although worn, contains illumination in a very handsome style: bold and simple in both contour and colour, drawn and modelled with taut stylisation. The decoration is a fine example of the continuation and flourishing of Armenian culture after the enforced move from Julfa to Isfahan at the beginning of the century.

The subjects of the full-page miniatures are as follows: The Annunciation f.1v; Adoration of the Magi f.2; Presentation in the Temple f.3v; Baptism of Christ f.4; Crucifixion f.5v; Entombment f.6; Sounding of the Last Trump and the Divine Cross f.7v; The Last Judgement f.8; St Matthew f.20v; St Mark f.84v; St Luke f.125v; St John f.193v.
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