TYPE: Manuscript (unbound pages)
DIMENSIONS: 279 by 195 mm
COMPONENTS: Single leaf, the recto with a decorative page with a central green rectangle mounted on a pillar enclosing simple human faces, the rectangle surmounted by a haloed figure (probably Christ) seated between white birds, and filled with painted birds, four-footed animals and a lion's mask within a headband, below this three crane-like birds holding a book in their beaks and three simple letters formed from a bird holding a book and two sets of birds joined by their tails, a full border of stylised foliage, the verso with similar green panel supported on three columns with rotund white lions at their head and feet, and enclosing a strange long necked beast with a camel-like hump and a bird's head at the end of his tail, birds and foliage in borders.
CONDITION: Some scuffing and chipping, tears to edges, overall fair condition,
NOTES: This leaf is from the same distinctive parent manuscript as two slightly more damaged leaves sold in our rooms, 9 December 2015, lot 106 (trimmed hence different sizes), reappearing as Quaritch, cat. 1434 (2016), no. 3. The art style is rustic, uncommon and hard to attach to any centre, and the presence of Armenian here in the initials supports Quaritch's assertion for the origin of these leaves. The leaves sold by us in 2015 came with early twentieth-century Norwegian provenance.

The human heads supporting columns and half-length figure of Christ surrounded by birds drinking from cups are also found in a Gospel book illuminated c. 1300-10 by Sargis at Siwnik (cf. Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts, 1994, no. 51). However, features such as the creature with a bird's head at the end of its tail and the drapery suggest an origin in the lands to the east of Armenia proper, in an as yet unstudied Christian community there.
ITEM ID: 5039
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Leaf from an Armenian Gospel Book

Notes: 14th or 15th Century

Single leaf with an architectural columned building surmounted by a haloed figure surrounded by animals, from the opening of an Armenian Gospel Book, illuminated manuscript on paper. Probably made in the 1300 or 1400s in the eastern regions of Greater Armenia or even farther east in a yet unstudied Christian community.