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Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Gospel Book
Italy, Rome, 1572-1585
MS M.270 fol.

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Four Evangelist portraits in two registers, surmounted by a plaque inscribed GREGORIUS XIII PONTIFEX OPTIMUS MAXIMUS BONCOMPAGNUS BONONIENSIS ELECTUS ANNO DOMINI MDLXXIII, all enclosed by margins with illusionistically painted flowers, insects, and birds, and with three gold cameo medallions and the papal arms of Gregory XIII.
Four Evangelists in illusionistic landscapes beside columns or pilasters:
1) Evangelist Matthew, nimbed, seated on rock with scroll with pseudo-inscription held in his lap, turns to look over his right shoulder at angel (Evangelist Symbol), nimbed, as young boy, with his hands on Matthew's shoulders.
2) Evangelist Mark, nimbed, sits on rock with head on his left hand, beside lion (Evangelist Symbol), nimbed, laying on ground and holding book with two clasps between its forepaws.
3) Evangelist Luke, nimbed, holding scroll with pseudo-inscription in left hand, sits with left arm draped on head of ox (Evangelist Symbol), laying on ground beside him.
4) Evangelist John, nimbed, sits and holds in left hand scroll with pseudo-inscription. Beside him stands nimbed eagle (Evangelist Symbol).
Margins with illusionistically painted iris, violas, strawberries, and cornflowers, inhabited by birds, flies, snails, peacock, and butterflies. In top and side margins are three cameo medallions comprising an Annunciation:
1) God, with billowing garment and arms extended, emanating rays, sitting amid clouds (Ancient of Days).
2) Archangel Gabriel, with garments billowing and arms extended.
3) Virgin Mary, kneeling at prie-dieu, turning head over right shoulder toward dove of Holy Ghost, in mandorla.
In lower margin is escutcheon with papal arms of Gregory XIII, surmounted by two keys and jeweled triple crown papal tiara with cross-inscribed infulae, all supported by two cherubs.

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