The Lindisfarne Gospels...

Click here to receive information about the facsimile edition of The Lindisfarne Gospels

The outstanding achievement of early medieval western art

The Lindisfarne Gospels is considered to be the outstanding artistic creation of the early Middle Ages with their breathtaking colours and a vast quantity of detailed ornamental decoration. The text uses 45 colours and tones: it includes intricate spirals, magnificent whorls, and fantastic bird and animal forms worked into the designs resulting in a spectacular carpet of interwoven colours. Oversized ornamented initials with an unbelievable wealth of motifs open each Gospel, and are accompanied by full length portraits of the Evangelists writing down the Word of God. The detail is rich, so for example, the eyes of the evangelists have an almost hypnotic quality.

The Lindisfarne Gospels represent a culmination of Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Germanic, Roman and Byzantine styles and are highly regarded by palaeographers, art historians, linguists and collectors alike.

They also contain the first version of the Gospels in English.

What makes it the more extraordinary is that it was scribed, illustrated and illuminated by one man in the 5 years preceding his death (probably 715-720 A.D.). In addition to his talents, so clearly demonstrated throughout the Gospels, Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne was a technical innovator, a skilled chemist and, possibly, the inventor of the pencil and the light-box. (We learn something about him from Aldred, a member of the community of St Cuthbert, who inserted the English translation between the lines of the Latin text some 240 years after the creation of the original text).

Many myths surround The Lindisfarne Gospels but it was most certainly true that the document was often removed from the “Holy Isle” of Lindisfarne to avoid Viking and other raids. The original manuscript is now displayed in the British Library but with just one double-page exposed to view.

The Fine Art Facsimile Edition of The Lindisfarne Gospels is published by Faksimile Verlag Luzern (the fine art facsimile publishers of Switzerland) in association with the British Library. It is carefully and beautifully hand-bound in a quality leather cover, in keeping with craft book binding traditions, and is limited to 980 copies worldwide.

The more elaborate and ornate binding originally instigated in1853 by Edward Maltby, Archbishop of Durham, is reproduced as an alternative binding and is offered in an edition limited to 290 copies. This uses a silver frame, coloured stones, tin and silver based alloys, and a spine richly embroidered in gold thread.

Both versions are accompanied by a commentary from Dr Michelle P. Brown, Curator of Illuminated Western Manuscripts at The British Library. This covers all aspects of the manuscript, its production and meaning. It also places The Lindisfarne Gospels in the broader context of Insular art.

Click here to receive an illustrated brochure and full details about how to acquire a copy of The Lindisfarne Gospels facsimile edition.

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