Portraits of the four evangelists are found in innumerable Byzantine Gospel books. Depicted as scribes surrounded by desks, lecterns, pens, blades, compasses, and inkwells, they are placed to face the opening words of their Gospel text. The only surviving illustration from an original set of four, the portrait of Luke (fol. 81v) is unusual in that it is a wash drawing, rather than an illumination in egg tempera; the technique serves to harmonize the page more closely with the written text. Typical of the art of the period is the overblown drapery that gives the figure such presence, and the backdrop of jarring architectural forms that deliberately incorporates a number of conflicting viewpoints.
The Gospel book itself was written in 1380 by Philotheos, metropolitan of Selymbria (present-day Silivri, in Turkey, on the north shore of the Sea of Marmara) — a rare documented case of a high-ranking clergyman and author copying out a Gospel book for his own use. Although Philotheos executed his own headpieces, and left space for this portrait, which is clearly contemporary with his undertaking, the colors used are different, and it is unlikely that he painted it himself. The odd conceit of the evangelist about to write with his left hand is common to a number of fourteenth-century manuscripts and frescoes from the area of Mount Athos, but the miniature could well have been painted in Selymbria.
Portraits of the four evangelists (Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John) are found in Gospel books such as this one, which was written in 1380 by Philotheos, metropolitan of Selymbria (present-day Silivri, in Turkey)—a rare documented case of a high-ranking clergyman copying out a Gospel book for his own use. The only surviving illustration from the original set of four, this portrait of Luke is unusual in that it is a wash drawing rather than an illumination made in egg tempera. Unlikely executed by Philotheos himself, this portrait, which faces the opening words of the Gospel text, depicts Luke as a multi-tasking scholar seated before a palace-like structure. He holds a book in one hand while dipping his pen into an inkwell with the other, which is placed on a desk with an inscribed scroll placed over a lectern.
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Dieter Harlfinger, "Parekbolea palaeographica", Parekbolai: an electronic journal for Byzantine literature 1, no. 1 (2011): p. 287-296.
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007).
Slobodan Curcic and Archer St. Clair, Byzantium at Princeton: Byzantine art and archaeology at Princeton University: catalogue of an exhibition at Firestone Library, Princeton University, August 1 through October 26, 1986, (Princeton, NJ: Dept. of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, The Art Museum, Princeton University, Princeton University Library, Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections, 1986).
Gary Vikan, Illuminated Greek manuscripts from American collections: an exhibition in honor of Kurt Weitzmann, (Princeton, NJ: Art Museum, Princeton University, 1973).
Kurt Weitzmann, "A fourteenth-century Greek gospel book with washdrawings", Gazette des beaux-arts 62 (n.s. 6) (1963): p. 91-108.
Kurt Aland, Kurzegefasste Liste der griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments, (Berlin: W. De Gruyter, 1963-).
Frances Follin Jones, "Recent aquisitions of Ancient Art", Record of the Art Museum, Princeton University, 17, no. 1 (1958): p. 41–43.