The J. Paul Getty Museum

Saint Luke

Object Details


Saint Luke






Nicomedia (or), Turkey; Nicaea, Turkey (Place Created)


early 13th century


Tempera colors and gold leaf

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig II 5 (83.MB.69), fol. 121v


Leaf: 20.6 × 14.9 cm (8 1/8 × 5 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

Before the Gospel of Saint Luke, the illuminator placed a portrait of the evangelist. Seated in an elaborate throne with his book open on his knees, Luke writes his Gospel, his account of Jesus' life and teachings. The tradition of including author portraits in manuscripts began in antiquity; by the thirteenth century, the inclusion of portraits of the evangelists in Gospel books had become quite common.

A feeling of naturalism drawn from Classical art and a stylized abstraction more typical of Byzantine art coexist in the miniature. The modeling of Luke's flesh and especially the rendering of the drapery around his thigh give the figure a strong sense of three-dimensionality, and the saint appears to sit comfortably in his ample throne. But this naturalism in the treatment of the seated figure does not extend to the setting. The saint dwarfs the stylized cityscape, which is set before a plain gold background.

The Armenian Gospels of Gladzor (September 11 to December 2, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 11 to December 2, 2001
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