Last Supper

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Armenian illuminated manuscripts

A collection of the best known and most characteristic illuminated manuscripts of the Armenian Church

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Armenian illuminated manuscripts form one of the most beautiful traditions of the Medieval Armenian art. The earliest surviving examples date from the 5th century, following the invention of the Armenian alphabet by Masrop Mashtots Մեսրոպ Մաշտոց (362-440). Very few fragments dated from the 5th-7th centuries have been survived. The oldest preserved in its entirety dates from the 9th century. 13th-14th centuries form the golden age of the Armenian calligraphy. Among the greatest Armenian miniaturists is Toros Roslin Թորոս Ռոսլին (1210-1270), who lived and worked in the Armenian kingdom of CIlicia.
Armenian Illuminated manuscripts are remarkable for their festive designs based on the Armenian  religious life and culture. lluminated manuscripts mostly recount the Holy Bible, in particular the Holy Gospels, as well as many aspects of the religious life and teachings of the Armenian Church. Most of the manuscripts were written and illustrated by monks. Armenian monasteries have been for centuries the centres of religious art and literature. Most of those manuscripts are exquisitely elaborated, covered in gilt and brilliant colors. It was a common belief that the beauty of the illustration could refresh the human mind and spirit.
Of the 31,000 Armenian manuscripts currently listed around the world, about 10,000 of them are ornamented, with 5,000 – 7,000 of them containing miniatures. Most of these manuscripts are preserved in the Matenadaran Institute of Yerevan (more than ten thousand manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts).

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»   Jesus washes the feet of His disciples


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Jesus washes the feet of His Disciples, by Aristakes Tzeruni, Aghtamar Gospels, 1391, Aghtamar, lake Van, ms8772 Matenadaran collection

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The entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, Jesus washes the feet of His Disciples, by Petros and Hovaness Khizanetsi, 1392, Khizan, Vaspurakan, ms3717 Matenadaran collection

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Jesus washes the feet of His Disciples, 14th century, ms6303 Matenadaran collection

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Jesus washes the feet of His Disciples, by Hovhannes Vardapet, 1455, Hizan monastery, W.543 Walters collection

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Jesus washes the feet of His Disciples, by Zakaré, 1470, Mechitarists’ Library, San Lazaro, Venice

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Jesus washes the feet of His Disciples, 1609, The Bodleian Library

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»   The Last Supper


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The Last Supper, by Tiranu Grigor, 1232, Targmanchats Gospels, ms2743 Matenadaran collection

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The Last Supper, Karabakh Gospels, 14th century, ms316 Matenadaran collection

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»  Christ predicts the sufferings of the Apostles


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Christ predicting the sufferings of the Apostles, by Toros Roslin, 1262, W.539 Walters collection

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»   The Betrayal and Arrest of Christ


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The Betrayal of Christ, by Toros Roslin, 1262, W.539 Walters collection

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The arrest of Christ, by Ovsian, 1306, Berdakn, Vaspurakan, ms4806 Matenadaran collection

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The arrest of Christ, by Aristakes Tzeruni, Aghtamar Gospels, 1391, Aghtamar, lake Van, ms8772 Matenadaran collection

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The arrest of Christ, 1609, The Bodleian Library

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