Exceptional Illuminated Manuscripts at the Gulbenkian Museum: The Colors of a Bible and Three Gospels Produced in the Armenian Diaspora

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Abstract

The illuminated manuscripts at the Gulbenkian Museum were produced in the 17th century, in scriptoria of the Armenian diaspora. In this work, we selected analytical methods that can be used in situ to study the colors of the illuminations. Scientific analysis based on fiber-optics reflectance spectroscopy in the visible and Raman spectroscopy has shown the use of a medieval palette based on inorganic pigments such as lapis lazuli, minium, vermilion, orpiment, indigo, two different greens (vergaut and malachite), lead white and carbon black. More importantly, in this context, it showed that the very important reds and pinks are possibly based on carminic acid. The painting technique is, however, different, as are the ways of painting the faces, hands, and vestments. The range of colors in the Bible and the three Gospel Books, enhanced by lapis lazuli blue and organic reds and pinks, demonstrates a desire to create exceptional illuminated manuscripts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3211-3231
Number of pages21
JournalHeritage
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Armenian manuscripts
  • dyes and pigments
  • Gulbenkian collection
  • painting techniques
  • spectroscopic analysis

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