Stockstad and Cothren

Art History


Early Medieval Art in Europe: Lindesfarne


The Lindesfarne Gospel Book is a manuscript with unique words and images. It is also known for the history behind the pages. A man named Aldred outlined its history. It was written by Eadfrith, the bishop of Lindesfarne, and bounded by his successor Ethalwald. Aldred also found that it took 300 calfskins to create the vellum pigments imported from the Himalayas for decoration. The page’s images are complex. There are cross forms and hybrid animal forms interlaced. They have a strict form as well. Framing and outlined by compasses and sharp edges that require an allusion while looking at them. Then words are difficult to read as well due to the heavy decoration of them. Sentences are stacked on top of each other. The decorative pages derived from barbarian visual traditions that were used in jewelry.

The pages consist of pages from the gospel. Each page starts with a symbol of its author or portraits of the writer. The Lindesfarne artist undermined roman portraiture stripping them of clothing to emphasize decorative patterns and contrasting colors.

One piece from the Lindesfarne Gospel Book is the image “Matthew Writing his Gospel”. This piece is currently stored in the British Library in London. It is about 34×24 cm.

The story behind the imagery is that some view it as Jesus standing behind Matthew as he writes, confronting him directly of the veil that separated the holy of holies from worshipers in the Jewish temple. Others think he is Moses, holding the book of law closed contracting with Matthews open book.

This piece relates to current time because many Christians read the bible and know the story of Matthew. Matthew was a literate tax collector. He is painted in many gospels dating back to 1609. He is one of the twelve apostles. Matthew interpreted the law in his gospel like how he was writing it in the work of the Linsesfarne book.

Alicia is a Parsons student studying Integrated Design.

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