The J. Paul Getty Museum

Gospel Book

Object Details


Gospel Book


Mesrop of Khizan (Armenian, active 1605 - 1651)

Hayrapet (Armenian, active 1615 - 1680s)

and Mesrop of Khizan (Armenian, active 1605 - 1651)




Isfahan, Persia (Place Created)




Tempera colors, gold paint, and gold leaf on glazed paper bound between wood boards covered with brown calf

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig II 7 (83.MB.71)


Leaf: 23 × 17.1 cm (9 1/16 × 6 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

This lavish Gospel book was illustrated by the famous Armenian painter Mesrop of Khizan (ca. 1560-ca. 1652). The manuscript contains eight canon tables (indices that correlate related material across the four Gospels), four portraits of the Evangelists, and several elaborate page headings. Its imagery is rendered in bold, dramatic colors and is animated throughout by a rhythmic geometric patterning that looks like volumetric folds on the page. The style of the illustrations is characteristic of the vibrant art produced in early modern Armenia. Although the artist was born in Khizan near Lake Van in historic Armenia, he, as well as thousands of other Armenians, were forcibly relocated to Isfahan, Persia after a defeat of the Ottoman Empire by Shah Abbas in 1603-1618. An inscription at the end of the manuscript explains that Mesrop produced the illustrations in New Julfa, an area of Isfahan. He added: “God gave my feeble body strength to complete this book…” However, the book, like many precious manuscripts, has been fractured and reassembled in the centuries since his death. It was rebound at least once, and the sixteen-page image cycle showing scenes from Christian sacred history that was once found at the beginning of the manuscript was cut out and dispersed at some point in the early twentieth century, long before the book came to the Getty. Since the acquisition of the main portion of the manuscript in 1983, the museum has acquired two leaves from the original cycle, showing a Nativity and a Baptism of Christ. Three of the other leaves belong to the Chester Beatty library in Dublin, but the fate of the remaining eleven leaves is unknown.


Lord Martiros, the husband of Mariam, Armenian,
Source: Inscription on no. 576 in the Chester Beatty Library.
Note: In honor of [his] parents, Khumarmam, Omet.

before 1737

Ust'ay Martiros, Armenian,

1737 - 1897/1913

Private Collection (New Julfa (Isfahan, Iran)), purchased by Jean-Jacques Marie de Morgan, after 1897.

1897/1913 - 1924

Jean-Jacques Marie de Morgan, French, 1857 - 1924, sold to Charles Ratton, by 1924.

after 1924

Charles Ratton, French, 1895 - 1986
Note: Sixteen miniatures were removed from this parent manuscript around 1924, two of which are now housed in the Getty collection. Three of these miniatures belong to the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, one is in the hands of a private collector, while location of the remaining ten leaves remains unknown.

- 1976

Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988 [sold, Christie's, London, November 17, 1976, to Dr. & Mrs. Peter Ludwig.]

1976 - 1983

Dr. Peter Ludwig, German, 1925 - 1996 and Irene Ludwig, German, 1927 - 2010, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.

Provenance Remarks: According to Anton von Euw (1979, p. 177) the Gospels passed from De Morgan to Pozzi. Thus it was Pozzi himself who removed the sixteen miniatures including the Baptism of Christ and sold some of the full-page miniatures. Some including the Getty one were sold before his death in 1967 and others only afterward. His estate sold six of the leaves in 1970 in Paris (Palais Galliera, December 5, 1970, lots 103-108) while the codex itself was sold only the following year.

The Apocalypse and Other Visions in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts (April 16 to June 30, 1991) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 16 to June 30, 1991
Treasures in Heaven (May 4 to October 23, 1994) (fols. 193v-194)
  • Pierpont Morgan Library (New York), May 4 to August 7, 1994
  • Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore), August 28 to October 23, 1994
Book Arts of Isfahan: Diversity and Identity in 17th Century Persia (October 24, 1995 to January 14, 1996) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 24, 1995 to January 14, 1996
The Book of Kings: Art, War, and the Morgan Library's Medieval Picture Bible (October 27 to December 29, 2002) (fols. 122v-123)
  • Walters Art Museum (Baltimore), October 27 to December 29, 2002
Shrine and Shroud: Textiles in Illuminated Manuscripts (June 28 to October 2, 2005) (fols. 5v-6)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 28 to October 2, 2005
The Gospels in Medieval Manuscript Illumination (October 31, 2006 to January 7, 2007) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 31, 2006 to January 7, 2007
Imagining Christ (May 6 to July 27, 2008) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 6 to July 27, 2008
The Medieval Scriptorium (November 24, 2009 to February 14, 2010) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 24, 2009 to February 14, 2010
"In the Beginning was the Word": Medieval Gospel Illumination (August 30 to November 27, 2011) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 30 to November 27, 2011
Heaven and Earth: Byzantine Illumination at the Cultural Crossroads (March 25 to June 22, 2014) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 25 to June 22, 2014
Armenia (September 21, 2018 to January 13, 2019) (fols. 193v-194)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), September 21, 2018 to January 13, 2019

Macler, Frédéric. (1913). Notices manuscrits arméniens vus dans quelques bibliothèques de l'Europe centrale (Vol. II). Paris: Imprimerie nationale, pp. 643-651, no. 46.

Macler, Frédéric. Miniatures Arméniennes: Vies du Christ, Peintures ornamentales (Xe aux XVIIe siècle), Paris, 1913, pp. 29-30, pl. XXXIII XLIV.

Nersessian, Sirapie Der. The Chester Beatty Library. A Catalogue of the Armenian Manuscripts (Dublin: Hodges Figgis, 1958)s, pp. 88-90 (n. 576), pl. 51.

Rhodes, Erroll F. An Annotated List of Armenian New Testament Manuscripts, Tokyo, 1959, p. 158.

Kraus, Hans P., ed. Monumenta Codicum Manu Scriptorum, exh. cat. (New York: H.P. Kraus, 1974), pp. 112-15, n. 45.

Euw, Anton von, and Joachim M. Plotzek. Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig. 4 vols. (Cologne: Schnütgen-Museum, 1979-1985), vol. 1 (1979), pp. 177-81.

Nordenfalk, Carl. Review of Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig, by Anton von Euw and Joachim M. Plotzek. Kunstchronik 33, no. 2 (February 1980).

"Manuscript Acquisitions: The Ludwig Collection." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 12, 1984, pp. 285-86.

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

Arakelyan, Mikayel. "The Representations of the Warriors, Their Costumes and Ornament, in the Miniatures of the XVIIth Century Armenian Artist Mesrop Xizanci." Revue des Etudes arméniennes 27 (1998-2000), pp. 379-92.

Chace, Sharon R. Protestant Pulse: Heart Hopes for God (Eugene, Oregon: Resource Publications, 2009), p. 61, fig. at p. 61.

Arakelyan, Mikayel. Mesrop of Xizan: An Armenian Master of the Seventeenth Century (London: Sam Fogg, with Paul Holberton Publishing, 2012), pp. 18-19, 30-31, 56-59, 62, 73-74, 83, 143-44, figs. 48, 63.

Morrison, Elizabeth, Mary Louise Hart, and Justine Andrews. "Splendori dal Bosforo: Arte bizantina a Los Angeles." Alumina: Pagine miniate 12, no. 45, Lucia Mariani, trans. (April-June 2014), p. 52, ill.