Lindau Gospels covers

Date: Late eighth to late ninth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Switzerland
Dimensions: 35 × 27.5 cm
Description: Two golden covers originally made for different books were brought together to protect a Gospel book written and illuminated at the monastery of St. Gall around 880. They were probably sent there as royal gifts, as were the Byzantine and Islamicate silk textiles behind each cover. The Gospel book is now in New York (Morgan Library and Museum MS M. 1), but it is named for its sixteenth-century owner, a convent at Lindau, an island in Lake Constance not far from St. Gall.

The back cover, the flatter one, features a cross set against animal-interlace panels; an evangelist bust, rendered in flat champlevé enamel, occupies the base of each cross-arm. Latin abbreviations for "Jesus Christ our Lord" surround a large gem at the center of the cross that probably replaced a relic. This cover was crafted in Austria near the end of the eighth century (ca. 780–800) for a different Gospel book. The golden reliefs of seated evangelists in the corners were added in the sixteenth century.

The front cover is more three-dimensional, with the crucified Christ in high relief executed in repoussé. Mourning figures in lower relief occupy the four corners, and the personified Sun and Moon above Christ are also curled in poses of grief. The border is adorned with gems and pearls, and raised clusters of gems are also in each corner, perhaps suggesting the architecture of the Heavenly Jerusalem. This lavish cover was probably made around 870 in a court workshop associated with the Carolingian emperor Charles "the Bald" (823–77), a grandson of Charlemagne, who was a well-known patron of manuscripts.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 4, 5
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons; Flickr

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Lindau Gospels, detail of front cover Lindau Gospels, back cover Lindau Gospels on display (2022), Morgan Library & Museum, front cover