3(10), -  2001    

Une nouvelle réplique slavonne du Paris.gr.74: seven decades after

Constaţa Costea

Following an initial contact with the Slavonic-Romanian mediaeval manuscripts at the 1925 Paris Exhibition of Romanian art, a visit to Romania few years later and a casual discovery in a late nineteenth century publication, Sirarpie Der Nersessian was the first scholar to identify a certain group of Wallachian and Moldavian Tetraevangelia as parallels of the Byzantine Paris.gr.741. Not very many of new facts have been published since. Information has been added to specify the great esteem Byzantine illuminated books enjoyed in the Romanian aristocratic society of the late fifteenth -early seventeenth century. Famous codices such as Dionysiou 587 (eleventh century), Mount Sinai 208 (twelfth century), Chicago University-Rockefeller McCormick 2400 (thirteenth century), British Museum Add.39627 (1355-1356) and many others were proved to have been known by princes, nobles or learned theologians in Wallachian and Moldavian lands: the illustrated texts, mostly sacred, either circulated2, received new and sumptuous bindings3 inspired fresco iconography4 or were copied in local scriptoria as shown by Der Nersessian.

The unprecedented interest raised between the mid-sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries by the strip-type illustration of the Gospel introduced by the eleventh century Constantinopolitan Paris. gr.74 was substantiated to extend to a fourth member. The Slavonic-Romanian branch of the family has already been known to include a Wallachian copy commissioned by the prince Alexandru II (1568-1577), brought to Moldavia ante 1605, (monastery of Suceviţa 235) and two Moldavian versions ordered, one by the prince Ieremia Mohyla (1595-1606) (Bucharest, National Museum of History 11340, former Sucevita 24)6 another by Anastasie Crimca the Metropolitan of Moldavia(1608-1617; 1619-1629), decorated in 1616/1617 by the painter Stefan from the town of Suceava and probably meant for the monastery of Krehiv in Ruthenia which it never reached (Warsaw, National Library Akc.10778, former Lviv, Library of the University, I AZ)7. The Tetraevangelia known since the end of the nineteenth century as Elisavetgrad, a fourteenth-fifteenth century manuscript8, has been reconsidered by Russian scholars as an early seventeenth century Moldavian work (Moscow, State Russian Library, Muz. Sobr. 9500)9. In view of the history of Romanian painting it seems to be properly datable in the last decades of the sixteenth century.

Publication of new data has been preceded or attended by different opinions regarding the relationship between the members of the family dependent on the Byzantine prototype Paris. gr. 74 which finally include: the version commissioned by the Bulgarian tsar Ivan Alexander Br. M. Add.39627, Suceviţa 23, Moscow S.L. 9500, Bucharest N.M.H. 11340, Warsaw N.L. Akc.10778. Some authors disputed Der Nersessians stemma of these manuscripts, formulated in her first 1927 study of the subject, later completed with the codex kept in Poland. When Der Nersessian published, in 1933, illustrations of the Warsaw Tetraevangelia (at the time known to be kept in Lviv)the basic source of information was Count Uvarovs 1884 description10 associated with his personal investigation of the manuscript collection at Dragomirna monastery in Moldavia. The codex in question has been identified as une nouvelle réplique slavonne du Paris. gr.74, allusion being made to the two formerly published Slavonic parallels of the same prototype, Suceviţa 23 and Bucharest N.M.H. 11340 (at the time Suceviţa 24). In terms of reference to the model, Sirarpie Der Nersessian argued in favour of a slightly different approach to Warsaw N.L. Akc.10778 as compared to the earlier Bucharest N.M.H. 11340: evidence found in the published material pointed to the fact that some miniatures of the former were closer to Paris.gr.74, thus severely questioning a direct connection between the two Moldavian replicas. Two lines of dependence resulted from Der Nersessians analysis: Paris.gr.74 - Br.M. Add.39627 - Suceviţa 23 and Variant of Paris.gr.74 (supposed)- Moscow S.L. 9500 - Bucharest N.M.H. 11340 - Warsaw N.L. Akc.10778, the last two following the same model separately. Supplementary - not included in the prototype - illuminations or iconographic details of Warsaw have been properly connected by the author to the miniatures decorating the group of manuscripts commissioned by the metropolitan Anastasie Crimca for the monastery of Dragomirna .

Members of the Paris. Gr. 74 family have been afterwards described and commented on by B.Filov11, M.V.Scepkina12, Gh.Popescu-Valcea13 or V.Lihaceva14. Each study contains a different scheme of analogy, based on partial examination of the parallels. Filovs disagreement with Der Nersessians conclusions has been resumed decades later by Popescu-Valcea whose mention of the manuscript in Poland is purely formalistic, as he was unable to see it15.

As the Warsaw Tetraevangelia has not been revisited since the 1933 study, clarifications regarding the images relationship might be provided by the results of research of the last decade dedicated to close comparison of the whole range of illustrations decorating the five manuscripts16. The investigation involved examination of originals (Sucevita 23, Moscow S.L. 9500, Bucharest N.M.H. 11340), of microfilms (Paris.gr.74, Warsaw N.L. Akc.10778)and of teh facsimile publication of Br.M.39627. Although an examination of the sources may seem out-of-date, modern research had to carry this out in order to reach a fresh conclusion, since earlier scholarchip had concentrated so intensely on the genealogy of manuscript.

In the Warsaw case, elaborate analysis produced multiple evidence to confirm Der Nersessians observations. With respect to the workshop procedures, the codex belongs to the same stem as the earlier one in Bucharest, but is not directly dependent on it, as it ocasionally reproduces details of Paris.gr.74 absent in its parallel: to the differences in the Crucifixion and the Last Judgement already discussed in the 1933 article may be added: the fountain in the Chief priests conferring on Jesus arrest (Matthew 26:5)(fig.1-4), the Synagogue without a nimbus in the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:54)(fig.5-8) the distribution of the figures in the Custody of the Tomb (Matthew 27:61)(fig.9-12), the reminiscent doors of the bema in the Presentation of Christ (Luke 2:32)(fig.13-15), the balustrade with the plants in Jesus announcing Lazarus Death (John:11,14)(fig.16-19).

As far as the model for the Warsaw Tetraevangelia is concerned, Der Nersessians presumption of Elisavetgrad having had model as a variant very close to Paris.gr.74 is supported in new terms. The results of recent years confirmed a high degree of fidelity to the prototype in the former Elisavetgrad, now the Moldavian late sixteenth century Moscow S.L. 9500. The conservatism as compared to the Paris manuscript, emphasized in nearly every miniature is mainly enhanced by the Byzantine quality of the headpieces, not to be met with in other late copies (fig.20-23). The Gospel uniquely includes arguments for the date of the model it followed: certain illuminations which show outstanding exactitude in reproducing stylistic features indicate the late eleventh century17 as the date of the parallel of the Paris.7418 which circulated in Moldavia by at least the second half of sixteenth century. A case in point is the Crucifixion, in some variants of which (Matthew 27:47,54) the transcendental bodies of the crucified reach a refinement directly comparable to the Constantinopolitan recension (fig.5-8,24-27).The similarity appears indisputable when contrasted with another illustration of the subject (Luke 23:33) in the same codex, achieved by a different and less gifted painter (fig.28-31).

Iconographic data points to the conclusion that Warsaw N.L. Akc.10778 is dependent either on Moscow S.L. 9500 or on its Byzantine model, while codicological information undoubtedly documents a direct link between Bucharest N.M.H. 11340 and the Moscow version.The variable fidelity of the two early 17th century parallels of the Constantinopolitan Gospel (fig.32-34) - as compared to the exactitude with which the former Sucevita 23 reflects the Bulgarian Br.M. Add.39627 and Moscow SL 9500, the eleventh century variant - unveils a certain sense of liberty, suggesting a modern approach to book illumination. An increased sense of invention governed Warsaw N.L. Akc.10778, the latest copy of the group, as expressed in illustrations not to be met with in earlier members of the family, as well as in its modifications of the common stock of miniatures. The painters independence is the more significant as the model followed was a most conservative one. Part of the new compositions - placed at the beginning or end of the Gospels - are common to the codices commissioned by Anastasie Crimca for the monastery of Dragomirna, as remarked by Sirarpie Der Nersessian: the Trinity in the three divine persons form, St. Elias, Enoch and John the Theologian, the Virgin and Child among prophets or Deesis with apostles in a formula inspired by the Tree of Jesse.

Not mentioned before is a variant of the Trinity (fig.23) including God the Father in a mandorla, thus suggesting a recent interest in the theme of Paternity as evidenced in a contemporary Missal of the Dragomirna group (fig.35). Uncommon versions re-elaborate earlier formulas. The Trinity (fig.36)- decorating the upper part of a frame meant to contain an inscription which has never been written - has the Virgin and Child instead of Christ; the division of the subject performed in this case is repeated underneath in the group of the Second Coming, Enoch, John the Theologian and Elias; the founders family, on the same folio, with Anastasie (?)19 as a simple monk and his parents, Ioan and Cristina is uniquely represented here though mentioned in the inscriptions of all the decorated codices commissioned by the metropolitan. The Virgin and Child (fig.37) among angels in Paradise -inspired by the illustration of the hymn In Thee Rejoiceth is associated with the three patriarchs. In another version the Virgin and Child (fig.38) is surrounded by heavenly hosts. Finaly, a short Moses cycle (fig.39)includes a completely unusual Vision in the mountain of Horeb with the Virgin in the flames of the burning bush stemming from a Moldavian church (indicating a possible overlap with the Tabernacle episode and suggesting modern terms of self-representation of the ecclesiastical body in Moldavia).

As far as the version of every picture is concerned, differences in the figures attitudes, changes in the architectural landscape, omission of iconographic details, alternatively and intermittently separate Warsaw N.L. Ack.10778 as well as Bucharest N.M.H. 11340 from their prototype. But a new perception of the sacred event involved in the painter Stefans art - pathos and unrest - turns small groups into multitudes (fig.40-42), stillness into movement and indefinite place into spatial depth (fig.43-46); a constant role is played by invention in landscape treatment inducing an abstract sense of nature enhanced by pure golden latching with strong geometrical emphasis(fig.47-50). This type of modification tending to disclose a fairly advanced understanding of the physical world, cannot be taken as a modern change in Western terms as no coherent intention in spatial research is manifest. It rather seems to reveal a personal, ingenious way of hinting at the reality, meaning the contemporaneity of the sacred history.



Chief Priests conferring on Jesusarrest
Fig.1. Par. gr. 74, fol.52r
Fig.2. Moscow S. L. 9500, fol.74r
Fig.3. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.74r
Fig.4. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.144

Fig.5. Par. gr. 74, fol.59r
Fig.6. Moscow S. L. 9500, fol.83r
Fig.7. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.83r
Fig.8. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.163

Custody of the Tomb
Fig.9. Par. gr. 74, fol.59v-60r
Fig.10. Moscow S. L. 9500, fol.84r
Fig.11. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.84r
Fig.12. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.164

Presentation of Christ
Fig.13. Par. gr. 74, fol.109v
Fig.14. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.148v
Fig.15. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.298

Jesus announcing Lazarus Death
Fig.16. Par. gr. 74, fol.190r
Fig.17. Moscow S. L. 9500, fol.266v
Fig.18. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.263v
Fig.19. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.519

Headpiece of St.Marks Gospel
Fig.20. Par. gr. 74, fol.64r
Fig.21. Moscow S. L. 9500, fol.88v
Fig.22. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.88v
Fig.23. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.174

Fig.24. Par. gr. 74, fol.58v.
Fig.25. Moscow S. L. 9500, fol.82v
Fig.26. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.82v.
Fig.27. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.162.

Fig.28. Par. gr. 74, fol.161r.
Fig.29. Moscow, S. L. 9500, fol.224r.
Fig.30. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.222r.
Fig.31. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.440.

Massacre of the Innocents
Fig.32. Par. gr. 74, fol.5r.
Fig.33. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.9v.
Fig.34. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.17.

Pentecost, Paternity
Fig.35. Bucharest, N.M.H.9182, fol.15r

Fig.36. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.453

Virgin and Child
Fig.37. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.170.
Fig.38. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.280.

The Moses cycle
Fig. 39. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.169.

Fig.40. Par. gr. 74, fol.61r.
Fig.41. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.85v.
Fig.42. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.168.

Zacharias Murder
Fig.43. Par. gr. 74, fol.46v.
Fig.44. Moscow, S. L. 9500, fol.66v.
Fig.45. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.66v.
Fig.46. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.129.

Calling of Peter and Andrew
Fig.47. Par. gr. 74, fol.65v.
Fig.48. Moscow, S. L. 9500, fol.90v.
Fig.49. Bucharest, N. M. H. 11340, fol.90v.
Fig.50. Warsaw, N. L. Akc. 10778, p.178., Athens, 1988, p.181-189.


1 Sirarpie Der Nersessian,Two Slavonic Parallels of the Greek Tetraevangelia: Paris. gr. 74, The Art Bulletin, vol. IX, 1927, nr. 3, p. 222-274; Idem, Une nouvelle réplique slavonne du Paris. gr. 74 et les manuscrits dAnastase Crimcovici, [in:] Mčlanges offerts B M.Nicolas Iorga par ses amis de France et des pays de langue française, Paris, 1933, p. 695-725.

2 Br. M. Add. 39627, according to an inscription on fol.5v, the chronology of which has been dsiputed depending on the identification of the Moldavian prince Alexander (either fifteenth or sixteenth century): N. Iorga, Review of B. Filov, Les miniatures de lÉvangile du roi Jean Alexandre B Londres, Br.M. London, Add. 39627, Sofia 1934, Revue Historique du Sud-Est Européen, Bucarest 1934, p. 208; E. Turdeanu, Miniatura bulgara si inceputurile miniaturii romanesti, Bucureşti, 1942 (with a survey of previous opinions), p. 409-410; C. Costea, Referinte livresti in pictura murala moldoveneasca de la sfarsitul secolului XV, Anuarul Institutului de Istorie A.D.Xenopol, Iaşi, XXIX (1992) p.277-283 [the connection miniature-fresco as an argument for this Gospels circulation in late fifteenth century Moldavia has lately been questioned by certain results regarding the presence in the area, at least after mid-sixteenth century if not much earlier, of a previous parallel of Br. M. Add. 39627, an illuminated eleventh century Gospel (see below)].

3 Old information on Romanian donations connected to Byzantine codices has been completed with new details about the date and the current mark of the manuscripts, in certain cases the libraries in which they are kept. Dionysiou 587: V.Candea, Marturii romanesti peste hotare, I, Bucureşti, 1991 p.450-451 (including most of the earlier bibliography); P.S.Nasturel, Le Mont Athos et les Roumainsn [=Orientalia Christiana Analecta vol. CCXXVII], Roma, 1986, p.149; Chr.Walter, The Date and Content of the Dionysiou Lectionary, Deltion tis Hristianikis Arheologhikis Eterias, vol. XIII, (1985-1986). Mount Sinai 208: V.Candea, Marturii...I, p.p.244 (including former bibliography); K.Weitzmann, G.Galavaris, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. The Illuminated Greek Manuscripts, I, Princeton, 1990, p.166-170. Chicago University-Rockefeller McCormick 2400: Maria Golescu, Colophon of Voivode Alexander II of Wallachia on a Byzantine Miniatured Manuscript at the Library of Chicago University, Revue des Études Roumaines, XV(1975), p.194-198; E.J.Goodspeed, D.W.Riddle, H.R.Willoughby (eds), The Rockfeller McCormick New Testament,3 vols., Chicago, 1932.
4 Br.M.Add.39627: C.Costea, Nartexul Dobrovatului, Revista Monumentelor Istorice, LX (1991), nr.1, p.10-22; eadem, Referinte livresti...p.277-283. Recent researches have shown that the manuscript followed by the Moldavian mural painters could have been an eleventh century version of Par.gr.74 mentioned in n.1.
5 Gh.Popescu-Valcea, Un manuscris al voievodului Alexandru al II-lea, Bucuresti, 1984.
6 Idem, Un manuscris al voievodului Ieremia Movila, Bucuresti, 1984.
7 Émile Turdeanu, Métropolite Anastase Crimca et son Éuvre littéraire et artistique (1608-1629), Études de littérature roumaine et décrits slaves et grecs des Principautés Roumaines, Leiden, 1985, p.232 (first published in 1952); apparently the first source to mention the monastery of Krehiv as the destination of the codex, Marian Sokolowski, Sztuka cerkiewna na Rusi i na Bukovinie, Kwartalnik historyczny, III, 1889, p. 629-630.
8 N.Pokrovskij, Evangelie v pamiatnikah ikonografii, preimučšestvenno vizantiiskih i russkih, Sankt Petersburg, 1892, p. XXII-XXVI.
9 M.V. Ščepkina, Bolgarskaia miniatiura XIV veka. Issledovanie psaltiri Tomića, Moskva, 1963, p.84-100.

10 A.S.Uvarov, Sbornik melkich trudov, Moscow, 1910, II, p.38-44.
11 Filov considered all the four Slavonic Gospels - Br.M.Add. 39627 and Sucevita 23 on one side, Elisavetgrad (Moscow S.L.9500) and Sucevita 24 (Bucharest N.M.H.11340) on the other - as pertaining to a single group, une rédaction slave distincte, respectivement bulgare, du cycle iconographique de lÉvangile, dependent on a parallel of Paris. gr. 74: LÉvangile du roi Jean Alexandre...p.33-34.

12 Grounded on Filovs conclusions, Ščepkina stressed the quality of the prototype of the Gospel in London for the other three, Wallachian and Moldavian copies, mentioned by the Bulgarian scholar:Bolgarskaia miniatiura... p.100. None of the authors referred to the manuscript in Poland.
13 A different arrangement put all the members - Lwow (Warsaw) comprised - under Paris.gr.74, preference being given to the Romanian redaction linking Sucevita 23 to Sucevita 24; Elisavetgrad was classified as Bulgarian; no further comment on Lwow: Un manuscris al voievodului Ieremia Movila, p.12-13.
14 V. Lihačeva confirmed Der Nersessians direct connection Paris. gr. 74 - Br. M. Add. 39627: Roli vizantiiskoi rukopisi XIv. kak obrazta dlia bolgarskoto tak nazivaemogo Londonskogo evangelia Ivana Aleksandra XIV v., Vizantiiskii Vremennik , vol. XLVI,, 1986, p. 174-180; in respect to Moscow S .L. 9500 Lihačeva thought of two models acting at the time on it: the Gospel in London and a Byzantine version, could be Paris.gr.74 itself: Saotnosenie meždu miniatiurite na Londonskoto i Elisavetgradskoto evangelie, [in] Etiudi po srednovekovno izkustvo, Sofia, 1986, p.148-160.
15 The author followed Uvarovs description: Scoala miniaturistica de la Dragomoirna, in Biserica Ortodoxa Romana, LXXXVI (1968), nr.11-12, p. 1355-1357.
16 Sztuka iluminacji i grafiki cerkiewnej, Warszawa 1996, p. 45, nr 7.
17 Chronology confirmed by H. Belting on the basis of photographs.
18 The prototype of the Moldavian parallels could not have been Paris. Gr. 74 itself, as the Moscow Gospel differs in a number of significant instances: to former observations such as increased accuracy (Pokrovskij) or the anonymous emperors presence (Der Nersessian) could be added the diverse decoration of headpieces, the lack of certain illustrations and others.
19 Inscriptions hardly legible on the photograph.

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