Early Period Illuminated Manuscripts

Most people are familiar with the multitude of illumination styles of the later Middle Ages, but when questioned about early period manuscripts are at a loss to go much beyond The Book of Kells. But there are a great number of early illuminated manuscripts. Below is a partial listing. Look for excerpts in art books and illustrations in books on early period topics. The culture of origin as well as the current location of the manuscript is given. For a more complete listing, see the sources.

Syriac Gospels. Byzantine, 5th century. Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana.

Vatican Virgil. Roman, 4-5th centuries. Rome, Vatican Library.

Vienna Genesis. Byzantine, 6th century. Vienna, Nationalblibliotek.

Ashburnham Pentateuch. Spanish, 7th century. Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale.

Codex Aminatinus, Bible. Italian, 7-8th century. Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana.

Lindisfarne Gospels. Hiberno-Saxon, approximately 700 a.d. Brittish Museum.

Book of Durrow. Irish, approximately 700 a.d. Dublin, Trinity College Library.

Echternach Gospels. Hiberno-Saxon, approximately 710 a.d. Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale.

Quaestiones in Heptateuchon. Northern France, mid 8th century. Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale.

Ada Gospels. Carolingian 781-783 a.d. Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale.

This is just a brief list to start you off. Not only are these interesting and useful to calligraphers and illuminators, but they provide invaluable sources of period clothing, armor, interiors and so forth.


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