Gospel Illuminations (Abstract)

Gospel Illuminations: Ethiopian paintings and their European models


A monastery in Ethiopia houses a precious gospel book of c. 1650, in which all four gospels are richly illuminated. The paintings are skilfully executed by more than one painter, the colours are still vivid and well preserved. What makes this gospel book so extraordinarily important is the adoption of painting processes so far not seen in Ethiopian painting, a nascent use of perspective and the borrowing of visual props from a Western source.

This paper will show both selected pictures from the European source and the Ethiopian images and discuss the idiosyncrasies in the Ethiopian illuminations to show how difficult it was to transpose a foreign image into the Ethiopian milieu.


Dorothea McEwan, Warburg Institute, The Warburg Institute, University of London

Dorothea McEwan

The Warburg Institute, University of London.

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