Saint Mark

Object Details

Title:

Saint Mark

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Byzantine

Place(s):

Constantinople, Turkey (Place created)

Date:

late 13th century

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold ink, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 21 x 14.9 cm (8 1/4 x 5 7/8 in.)

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Saint Mark pauses, quill in hand, as he writes his account of the life of Christ. This portrait of the saint as author introduces his Gospel in a Greek manuscript of the late 1200s. An inscription in red on the gold leaf background identifies the saint by name.

Through the careful modeling of both flesh and drapery, the anonymous illuminator achieved a strongly three-dimensional figure. Contrasting the heritage of classical antiquity seen in this naturalism, the solid gold background is a profoundly anti-naturalistic device. As weighty as the figure appears, he is not entirely of this world. The saint's isolation against the shimmering gold ground emphasizes his sanctity and the divine inspiration of his Gospel.

Related Works
Exhibitions
Illuminating Color (May 22 to August 26, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 22 to August 26, 2001
Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261 - 1557) (March 15 to July 5, 2004)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, (New York), March 15 to July 5, 2004
Byzantium and the West (September 14 to December 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), September 14, 2004 to December 5, 2003
The Gospels in Medieval Manuscript Illumination (October 31, 2006 to January 7, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 31, 2006 to January 7, 2007
Rare Finds: Ten Years of Collecting Manuscripts (February 12 to April 20, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 12 to April 20, 2008
"In the Beginning was the Word": Medieval Gospel Illumination (August 30 to November 27, 2011)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), August 30 to November 27, 2011