THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Medieval manuscripts blog

09 August 2013

The Eyes Have It

Here's a poser for you. Below are the evangelist portraits from the famous Lindisfarne Gospels, reputedly painted (according to a 10th-century colophon) by Bishop Eadfrith (698-c. 721).

The question is: can you spot the difference? The answer is found at the foot of this post.

Cotton_ms_nero_d_4_f025v

St Matthew the Evangelist in the Lindisfarne Gospels (London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero D IV, f. 25v)

Cotton_ms_nero_d_4_f093v

St Mark the Evangelist in the Lindisfarne Gospels (London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero D IV, f. 93v)

Cotton_ms_nero_d_4_f137v

St Luke the Evangelist in the Lindisfarne Gospels (London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero D IV, f. 137v)

Cotton_ms_nero_d_4_f209v

 St John the Evangelist in the Lindisfarne Gospels (London, British Library, MS Cotton Nero D IV, f. 209v)

To find out more about the making of the Lindisfarne Gospels, we highly recommend that you read Richard Gameson's new book, From Holy Island to Durham: The Contexts and Meanings of the Lindisfarne Gospels (Third Millennium, 2013). Or why not visit Durham itself, where the manuscript itself is on display until September 2013? Meanwhile, don't forget that you can view all the pages of the Lindisfarne Gospels on the British Library's Digitised Manuscripts site.

So, the answer to our poser is ... well, it's a bit of a trick question. All the eyes are blue, except ... you'll have to work that one out!

Comments

I am not sure I read the inscriptions correctly but do they combine the Greek word for saint and the Latin spelling of their name?

British Library: that is correct, the inscriptions combine the Greek "O agios" and the Latin name of the saint.

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