Evangelist Mark Seated in his Study


The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, United States

In Byzantium, the revival of classical forms during the Macedonian Renaissance briefly reinstated naturalism as an aesthetic principle. But the desire to represent things as they are in the natural world soon disappeared. In this illuminated leaf from a gospel lectionary produced in Constantinople in the second quarter of the eleventh century, the Evangelist Mark is depicted sitting at his desk, thinking. The pose replicates that commonly used in Antiquity to represent philosophers. The persistence of the ancient prototype is evident in the style of dress, which is rendered with fluid brushstrokes. Highlights pick up the play of light on the drapery folds, conveying a sense of the body underneath. On the other hand, any illusion of space is subverted by the uniform gold ground behind the Evangelist; the furniture is flattened out with no pretence of foreshortening or perspectival rendering. The supernatural status of the saint is thus reaffirmed by the unreality of his surroundings.


  • Title: Evangelist Mark Seated in his Study
  • Date Created: 1025-1050
  • Physical Dimensions: w19 x h27 cm
  • Type: illuminated manuscripts; folios (leaves)
  • Rights: Acquired by Henry Walters, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: ink, paint, and gold on parchment
  • Provenance: Léon Gruel, Paris [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
  • Place of Origin: Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey)
  • ExhibitionHistory: Early Christian and Byzantine Art. Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore. 1947; Byzantine Manuscript Illumination. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin. 1957; From Icon to Image: Byzantine Influence on Pre-Renaissance Art in the East and West. Stanford University Museum of Art, Stanford. 1961-1962; The Hebrew Bible in Christian, Jewish & Muslim Art. The Jewish Museum, New York. 1963; Pages from Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts from the 10th to the Early 15th Centuries. University Art Gallery, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley. 1963; Illuminated Greek Manuscripts from American Collections; An Exhibition in Honor of Kurt Weitzmann. Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton. 1973; Illuminated Manuscripts: Masterpieces in Miniature. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984-1985; The Book and the Author: Portraits of the Evangelists in Eastern and Western Manuscripts. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1990-1991; The Glory of Byzantium. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 1997; Eureka! The Archimedes Palimpsest. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore; The Field Museum, Chicago. 1999-2000; Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 2004; Illuminating the Word: Gospel Books in the Middle Ages. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2004; Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2011-2012
  • Artist: Byzantine

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