Shopping Bag

    The Laurentian manuscript Plut. 6.23. The illustrated Gospels

    Treccani presents the facsimile reproduction of the magnificent manuscript Plut. 6.23, kept at the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana (Laurentian Library) in Florence. It is a parchment codex, made up of folios I + 212 + I', in a 16th-century Medici binding, containing a one-of-a-kind 11th-12th century evangeliary with an impressive number of illustrations, which faithfully reconstructs the story of the gospel through a powerful use of imagery. The entire written text features iconographies, making it speak for itself: in fact, the folios of the manuscript contain 285 small images that are meant to illustrate the text and, at the same time, the Gospel narrative. In addition, each of the four Gospels is preceded by a beautiful full-page representation of each evangelist against a gold background; the manuscript also contains title pages in the style of flower petals, historiated headlines and initials, and a number of interesting instructions to the illuminator in Armenian. The commentary contained in the facsimile allows the reader to find out more about the manuscript thanks to an introductory essay by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, which offers a comprehensive retelling of the history of the Gospels and of the many different interpretations that have been given about them over the centuries, especially in the 1900s.

    Tania Velmans’ contribution also serves as a useful tool for understanding and interpreting every single illumination found in the codex, which the scholar describes as ‘an almost unique specimen as it contains a large number of illustrations, is faithful to the Gospel texts, and due to the choice to use images to almost completely retell the Gospel story’. All the questions raised in the codex are addressed in the commentary: from its dating to its geographical origin, from the distinctive features of the illustrations to the relationship between the text and the images, as well as the invaluable information on the evolution of iconographic schemes and cycles in the artistic practices of the time.

    The illuminations are presented one at a time in the commentary, so that even readers who are completely unfamiliar with medieval figurative art can still understand the story told through images that run parallel to the text, and can therefore appreciate this extraordinary work of art in its entirety. The word of the Lord in perfect harmony with the evocative power of images. The commentary, consisting of more than 100 pages, also contains 50 out-of-text colour plates.  

    The facsimile is printed in four colours using the stochastic screening technique plus flexographic gold, gold paste and gold foil on Luxor parchment paper by Cartiere Fedrigoni; the stitching and headband are handcrafted. The binding is made of naturally tanned burgundy-coloured cowhide leather by Conceria 800, while the cover has a dry-engraved rhomboid central frieze and four small side studs with strap closure. The facsimile and the commentary is kept in a slipcase made of lime wood that opens up like a book, with gold engravings on the front and flocked fabric on the inside, plus a tilting element with bookrest holder. Print run of 399 hand-numbered copies plus 13 unnumbered copies.