Gospel Book with Evangelist Portraits: Decorated Initial

Gospel Book with Evangelist Portraits: Decorated Initial

c. 1480

Part of a set. See all set records

miniatures by

Hausbuch Master


Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum; original blind stamped leather binding

Codex: 23.7 x 18.4 x 5.4 cm (9 5/16 x 7 1/4 x 2 1/8 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1952.465.186.a



Each of the four gospels, here in Latin, are preceded by a full-page miniature of the appropriate Evangelist. As is conventional, the Evangelists are represented as contemporary scribes seated at a lectern surrounded by all the accouterments of the trade—inkpots, quill pens, penknives, etc. The miniatures' style is characteristically German late Gothic in its expressive use of angular drapery and realistic detail. Each miniature, however, bears the marks of The Hausbuch Master's hand: notice the terrace space for each figure and the emphasis on realistically rendered details, such as the furniture construction and the tools of the scribe as well as the facial types, with their heavy-lidded, downcast eyes. This artist was occasionally noted for his humor, as here in the portrait of the Evangelist John in which he depicted the saint erasing an error in his text with a pen knife in his left hand and a quill pen in his right. The skillful penwork, tracery, vine scrolls, and the large initials are the work of the other artists. The binding is original. The Hausbuch Master is known primarily for an album of lively drawings as well as some 90 copper engravings.

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