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Constantinople, Turkey (Place created)
late 13th century
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold ink, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 21 × 14.9 cm (8 1/4 × 5 7/8 in.)
Though the tools of a scribe--a pot with two cavities for ink, a penknife, and two quill holders--are visible in and on the cabinet beside him, Saint John rests his chin on his hand, pausing from his Gospel-writing labors. This pose and his carefully rendered facial features combine to give him an air of meditative seriousness. His long, gray beard, a traditional author's attribute that derives ultimately from portraits of philosophers in ancient Greece and Rome, adds to the air of solemnity. This portrait of Saint John appears at the beginning of his account of Christ's life.
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