Lorsch Gospel illuminated page

Okay, my next post was meant to be a review (almost finished the book, won’t be long) but I just saw this and I had to share. As someone who loves books, every now and again I go looking at images of medieval gospels, personal libraries and other beautiful book related things. I recently subscribed to /r/bookporn on Reddit and today a user called mktoaster posted this thread, featuring the below image:

Click for full size
Click for full size

Just look at that! Isn’t is beautiful? The intricacy, the vibrant colours. I don’t pretend to know much about medieval art, but I do recognise some of the motifs. Look at the top left, next to the giant letters – there’s a little bird there in the branches, and a flower above it. I love the little three line motif under the IN of INCIPIT, in  light blue-grey. And the little heart-shaped design after the BER of LIBER, in gold and blue. Gorgeous. To think of the time this would have required, and the money; the artist must have had such a steady hand and such patience.

Inspired by this, I did a little research. Well, I looked on Wikipedia. This page is from the Codex Aureus Laurensius, or in English, the gold book of Lorsch. It was produced between 778 and 820, probably for Lorsch Abbey, a Carolingian abbey in a town in southwestern Germany. Unfortunately, during the 17th century it was stolen and ripped apart for ease of sale, and the covers were removed, so now there are bits in Romania, bits in the Vatican and the back cover is in London. I’m not sure where the above page is currently located though.

Amongst gospels in general, the Lindau Gospels are my current favourite. Just look at that back cover:


What am I missing in the way of beautiful medieval books? What are the most intricate, beautiful – or over the top – artworks that became part of a gospel or other book from all those centuries ago? Please share your favourites! I’d love to see more.

2 thoughts on “Lorsch Gospel illuminated page

  1. Beautiful 🙂 On a visit last year to Stonyhurst college we were shown some medieval prayer books decorated with gold and lapis lazuli. The cost, both to buy the materials and the time and effort must have been phenomenal and the makers exceptionally patient and skilled. What a contrast to the type, cut and paste methods of today!

    1. There’s certainly something very enticing about the way medieval people treated the written word, the reverence of it, the acceptance that it held value and thus the recognition of that value through using precious metals and minerals in their production.

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