The Treasures of Matenadaran
The manuscripts of 11th century make a separate group of manuscripts in the history of Armenian miniature art. Though very few manuscripts of that period have reached to us, they express the nature and rich traditions of Armenian miniature art of the time. The sizes of the manuscripts of that period are the largest ones in the overall history of Armenian miniature. Afterwards they are not repeated as the mastery of performance is not repeated either.
The rich traditions of Armenian miniature art are reflected in one of the peculiar manuscripts of 11th century which is the gospel of 1066 illustrated in Sebastia. Though we have only the image of Marcos evangelist and two title-pages from the gospels of Marcos and Luke, it is enough to notice the changes in this manuscript which are addressed to the decoration and solemnity of the manuscript.
The title-pages acquired new solutions in this manuscript. The text is written by one column with blue letters in universal gold. The capital letter is formed as the image of lying winged lion which is the symbol of Marcos evangelist. Young Christ – Emmanuel is portrayed with his hand stretched out between the wings of the lion. The capital letter and the symbol of evangelist attract the illustrator’s attention which leads to the creation of complete decorative setup of the title-page. This impression is strengthened by the colors used in the illustration of the manuscript, especially red and blue colors on golden background.
The image of Marcos evangelist is also developed in details. The evangelist sits on the armchair in front of the reading desk. Slightly forward posture of the evangelist creates the impression of movement as if he is going to write with his pen on the register put on his knee. The pleats of the dress made by the combination of blue and violet colors gently underline the forms of body strengthening the realistic nature of the image.
In the manuscripts of the 10-11th centuries we notice the tendency of reducing the thematic miniatures. In the 12th century and at the beginning of the 13th century it becomes common and the manuscripts with plot miniatures become seldom. The painting and the scheme of illustration of the gospel of Sebastia play a significant role in the development of Armenian miniature art, especially in Cilicia.