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Evangelist Mark

Middle Byzantine
ca. 1063
29.3 cm x 22.5 cm (11 9/16 in. x 8 7/8 in.)
tempera, gold leaf and ink on vellum

On view


Mark is in the typical pose for Gospel writers in medieval manuscripts, although they are normally set against an architectural backdrop. On the desk in front are his tools; a box holding reed pens and a built-in ink well, pen knives, a pumice stone, and two glass bottles of reserve ink, one black and the other red. Scribes wrote their texts mostly in black, reserving red for emphasis. It is curious that Mark should have a scroll on his bookstand. The codex, the familiar kind of book formed by sewing groups of folios together, had replaced the scroll as the preferred style of book by the fourth century. Scrolls continued to appear in images, however, their antiquity lending both realism and historic dignity to images of sacred authors.
Dumbarton Oaks owns one other leaf from this manuscript, the opening page from the Lections for the Gospel of Matthew (BZ.1979.31.2). We know more about the origins of this lectionary in the eleventh century than we do about its eventual dispersal in the twentieth. A dedicatory page indicates that the Empress Katherine Komnena, widow of Isaac I Komnenos, donated the book in 1063 to the Holy Trinity Monastery on the island of Chalki, near Constantinople in the Sea of Marmara. Katherine had been born a Bulgarian noblewoman, had survived capture by Basil II the “Bulgar-Slayer,” had married into Byzantine nobility, and eventually rose with her husband to imperial status. She was furious when, only two years later, Isaac, beset by enemies and illness, announced his intention to abdicate and enter a monastery. She followed suit, entering the Myrelaion Convent and taking the name “Xene”. Shortly before she died there, she sent the lectionary to the Holy Trinity Monastery in exchange for future prayers for her soul.
S. Zwirn

C. Diehl, "L'évangéliare de l'impêratrice Catherine Comnène," Comptes Rendus des séances-Académie des Inscriptions & Belles-Lettres (1922): 243-48.

C. Diehl, "Monuments byzantins inédits du onzième siècle," Art Studies; Medieval, Renaissance and Modern 5 (1927), esp. 9, fig. 3-7.

Exposition internationale d'art Byzantin, exhibition catalogue, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, 28 May-9 July, 1931, (Paris, 1931), no. 653.

K. W. Clark, A Descriptive Catalogue of Greek New Testament Manuscripts in America (Chicago, 1937), 122 n.1.

Byzantine Art, an European Art, exhibition catalogue, Zappeion Exhibition Hall, (Athens, 1964), no. 309.

Illuminated Greek Manuscripts from American Collections: an Exhibition in Honor of Kurt Weitzmann, ed. G. Vikan, exhibition catalogue, Art Museum Princeton University, April 14-May 20, 1973, (Princeton, 1973), no. 13, fig. 23.

R. Janin, Les églises et les monastères des grands centres byzantins: Bithynie, Hellespont, Latros, Galèsios, Trébizonde, Athènes, Thessalonique, Géographie Ecclésiastique de l'Empire Byzantin 2 (Paris, 1975), 73.

Wijenburgh Dokumentatie-Systeem voor de Ikoonenkunst, Ikonen in Reliëf,ed. R. Roozemond (Echteld, 1978).

G. Vikan, Gifts from the Byzantine Court, exhibition catalogue, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Feb. 6-June 1, 1980, [Publications - Dumbarton Oaks, Byzantine Collection ; 1(Washington, 1980), passim.

N. Kavrus-Hoffmann, "Greek Manuscripts at Dumbarton Oaks: Codicological and Paleographic Description and Analysis," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 50 (1996): 289-312, esp. 306-307.

J. Lowden, "Archimedes into Icon: Forging an Image of Byzantium," in Icon and Word: The Power of Images in Byzantium: Studies Presented to Robin Cormack, ed. A. Eastmond and L. James (Burlington, VT, 2003), 233-60, esp. 247, fig. 15.12 p. 260.

H. A. Klein, Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art, exhibition catalogue, Cleveland Museum of Art, May 10-September 16, 2007, (Cleveland and New York, 2008), 83, 85, fig. p. 85.

O. S. Popova, A. V. Zakharova, and I. A. Oretskaia, Vizantiiskaia miniatiura vtoroi poloviny X-nachala XII veka (The Byzantine Miniature from the Second Half of the 10th Century to the Early 12th Century) (Moscow, 2012), 70, 72, 262, 431, 441, pl. 225.

Exhibition History
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, "Exposition international d'art byzantin," May 28 - July 9, 1931.

Athens, Zappeion Exhibition Hall, "Byzantine Art an European Art," Apr. 1 - June 15, 1964.

Washington, DC, Dumbarton Oaks, "Gifts from the Byzantine Court," Feb. 6 - June 1, 1980.

Acquisition History
Given to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Chalki by Catherine Comnena, 1063.

Monastery of the Kamariotissa, Chalki, 1806-ca. 1920.

Library of the Phanar School, Istanbul, (until the 1920's).

Guerson Collection, Paris.

Purchased from Robert Roozemond (dealer), De Wijenburgh, Netherlands, by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., 1979.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Byzantine Collection, Washington, D.C.