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Ethiopian Gospels
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Ethiopian Gospels

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description This large Ethiopian Gospel Book was made in the first half of the sixteenth century and is written in Ge'ez, the traditional liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Containing eleven full-page miniatures, six canon tables, and five elaborately ornamented harags, or headpieces, this manuscript represents the golden age of what has been termed the Gunda Gunde style, named after a monastery in the district of Agame. The Gunda Gunde style is characterized by bold blocks of color defined by detailed and often delicate linear motifs. Figures are highly stylized and expressive, while the accompanying canon tables and harags are filled with intricate interlace and geometric forms. The manuscript is exceptionally well preserved, and is an excellent and rare example of Ethiopian illumination from one of its important artistic centers.
Date Description Narrative
9/18/2012Examinationexamined for condition; examined for exhibition
  • Ethiopian Gospel Book: New Acquisition. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1999.
  • Illuminating the Word: Gospel Books in the Middle Ages. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2004.
  • Angels of Light: Ethiopian Art from the Walters Art Museum. Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton; Museum of Biblical Art, New York. 2006-2007.
  • The Saint John's Bible: A Modern Vision through Medieval Methods. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2009.
  • The Christmas Story: Picturing the Birth of Christ in Medieval Manuscripts. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2009-2010.
  • Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2011-2012.
  • Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton. 2012-2013.
Provenance Monastery at Gunda Gunde, northeastern Ethiopia, early- to mid- sixteenth century; Church of Mädhane Aläm at Mäjate, Ethiopia, 1892-1893 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Private collection, France, prior to 1973 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Sam Fogg, London [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1998, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase with funds provided by the W. Alton Jones Foundation Acquisition Fund, 1998

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first half of the 16th century (Stephanite)
ink and pigments on heavy, thick parchment between plain wooden boards with remains of leather on the upper board
(Manuscripts & Rare Books)
Accession Number
Closed H: 11 13/16 x W: 10 3/16 x D: 3 1/2 in. (30 x 25.9 x 8.9 cm); Display, open H: 11 7/8 x W: 16 5/16 x D: 8 9/16 in. (30.2 x 41.5 x 21.8 cm); Box H: 13 1/16 x W: 11 3/4 x D: 4 11/16 in. (33.2 x 29.9 x 11.9 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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