Canon tables from the Zeyt'un Gospels

Object Details


Canon tables from the Zeyt'un Gospels


T'oros Roslin (Armenian, active 1256 - 1268)

T'oros Roslin (Armenian, active 1256 - 1268)




Hromklay, Armenia (Place created)




Tempera colors, gold paint, and ink on parchment

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The Zeyt'un Gospels, made in the scriptorium at Hromklay for Katholikos Constantine I in 1256, are the earliest signed work of T'oros Roslin, the most accomplished illuminator and scribe in Armenia in the 1200s. These canon tables were separated from the manuscript at some point in the past and eventually acquired by the Getty Museum, while the rest of the manuscript is in a public collection in Armenia.

Originally designed by Eusebius of Caesarea in the 300s, canon tables provide a concordance of related passages that describe the same events in more than one of the four Gospels. By the early Middle Ages, the columns of numbers were usually assembled within painted architectural structures. Though Roslin used this traditional format in all of his pages, he endlessly varied the ornamental designs and naturalistic elements, imbuing each page with individuality and vitality.

Armenia established its own independent church in the 300s, distinct from both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. In medieval Armenia, religious books such as this one were believed to serve as heavenly intercessors for those involved with the books' creation, patronage, or care; Gospel books are among the most sumptuous of Armenian manuscripts.

Related Works

Der Nersessian, Sirarpie. "T'oros Roslin et l'évangile de Zeytoun." In Études byzantines et arméniennes. 2 vols. (1952; repr. and trans., Louvain: Imprimerie Orientaliste, 1973), vol. 1, pp. 560-562. [French translation of an article originally published in. 1952 in Armenian].

Evans, Helen C. "Canon Tables as an Indication of Teacher-Pupil Relationships in the Career of T'oros Roslin." In Medieval Armenian Culture. Thomas J. Samuelian and Michael E. Stone, eds. (Chico: Scholars Press, 1984), pp. 272-90.

Evans, Helen C. "Manuscript Illumination at the Armenian Patriarchate in Hromkla and the West." Ph.D. diss. (New York University, 1990), pp. 155, 159n18.

Der Nersessian, Sirarpie. "Miniature Painting in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Century." Dumbarton Oaks Studies 31, no 1 (1993), pp. 51-52.

Evans, Helen C. "Cilician Manuscript Illumination: The Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Centuries." in Treasures in Heaven [...], exh. cat. T. F. Mathews, R. S. Wieck eds. (New York: Pierpont Morgan Library; Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 73.

Mathews, Thomas F., Roger S. Wieck, eds. Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts, exh. cat. (New York: Pierpont Morgan Library; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 206, no. 82, pls. 10, 11, entry by Helen C. Evans.

Soucek, Priscilla P. "New York and Baltimore Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts." The Burlington Magazine 5 (August 1994), pp. 74-75.

"L'Arméne en Amérique." Connaissance des Arts 506 (May 1994), pp. 92, 95, fig. 3.

"Acquisitions/1994." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 23 (1995), pp. 6, 89-90, no. 47, cover ill., ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 60, 71, ill.

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Illuminated Manuscripts (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 30-32, ill., entry by Elizabeth C. Teviotdale.

Evans, Helen C., and William D. Wixom, eds. The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843-1261, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997), pp. 362-63, no. 243, ill., entry by Helen C. Evans.

Evans, Helen. "Armenian Art Looks West: T'oros Roslin's Zeyt'un Gospels." in Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Art, Religion, and Society: Papers Delivered [...] at a symposium. Thomas F. Mathews, Roger S. Wieck, eds. (New York:Pierpont Morgan Library, 1998), pp. 105-6, 113n10.

Magic Brush Art Studio (Sherman Oaks: Associated International Enterprises, 2000), p. 14.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 72, ill.

Herrera, Hayden. Arshile Gorky, his life and work (New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003), p. 52, fig. 52.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 66, ill.

Chookaszian, Levon. "The Motif of the Sphinx in the Decoration of manuscripts Illuminated by T'oros Roslin." In Between Paris and Fresno: Armenian Studies in Honor of Dickran Kouymjian. Barlow Der Mugrdechian, ed. (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 2008), pp. 67-68, 75.

Nishimura, Margot McIlwain. Images in the Margins (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum; London: The British Library, 2009), pp. 38, 41, fig. 41.