3(10), ìàé-èþíü 2001
Une nouvelle réplique slavonne du Paris.gr.74: seven decades after
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
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 Nersessian’s 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 Uvarov’s 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
Nersessian’s 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. Filov’s disagreement with Der Nersessian’s 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 Nersessian’s 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
Nersessian’s 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 painter’s 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 “founder’s”
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 Stefan’s 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 Jesus’arrest
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.Mark’s 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.
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.
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
d’Anastase 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 l’Évangile 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
XXIX (1992) p.277-283 [the connection miniature-fresco as
an argument for this Gospel’s 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,
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 d’écrits 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,
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 l’Évangile”,
dependent on a parallel of Paris. gr. 74: L’Évangile du roi
12 Grounded on Filov’s 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
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 Nersessian’s 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
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 Uvarov’s description: Scoala miniaturistica de la
Dragomoirna, in Biserica Ortodoxa Romana, LXXXVI (1968), nr.11-12, p.
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
emperor’s 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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