Bibliothèque de l'Eglise apostolique arménienne - Paris - MATHEWS , Thomas F.     Retour à l'Index des auteurs en anglais    Accueil des catalogues en ligne

Bibliothèque de l'Église apostolique arménienne - Paris
15, rue Jean-Goujon - 75008 Paris || Père Jirayr Tashjian, Directeur
Téléphone : 01 43 59 67 03
Consultation sur place du mardi au jeudi, de 14 heures à 17 heures

( n. 1934 )


Naissance le 7 janvier 1934

Historien spécialisé dans l'art et l'architecture paléochrétien.

Thomas F. MATHEWS --- Cliquer pour agrandir

Rangement Beaux-livres
Cliquer pour agrandir

 Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts
Titre : Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts / auteur(s) : Catalogues - Thomas F. MATHEWS - Edited by Thomas F. Mathews ans Roger S. Wieck
Editeur : Princeton Univ Press
Année : 1994
Imprimeur/Fabricant : Imprimeries réunies Lausanne
Description : 23 x 30 cm, 296 pages, couverture illustrée en couleurs
Collection :
Notes :
Autres auteurs :
Sujets : Armenian manuscripts
ISBN : 9780691037516
Lecture On-line : non disponible

Commentaire :

Preface by Thomas F. Mathews

Mount Ararat, robed in perpetual snow, is the tallest mountain in western Asia and the heart of ancient Armenia. Here flourished a people who can claim to be both the earliest nation converted to Christianity and the easternmost of all the kingdoms of medieval Christendom. The illuminated manuscript, and above all the Gospel Book, was their most important cultural artifact, revealing both their history and the strength of their native traditions. Although political independence often eluded them, and eventually invasions and deportations diminished Armenians' presence in their native homeland, their sense of national identity was always strong. Their illuminated manuscripts played a key role in preserving this cultural continuity, transmitting religious doctrine, historical records, and a blaze of brilliant images. Armenia made the art of the book into a vehicle of Armenian self-consciousness.
In the course of the past century a considerable number of these manuscripts have found their way to collections on this side of the Atlantic. Zealously guarded for centuries in Armenian church treasuries or hidden away as private family heirlooms, many manuscripts were finally dispersed in the mass murders and deportations of Armenians in 1895 and from 1915 to 1917. Whether confiscated by marauders, carried to new lands by emigres, or sold to raise hard cash, they soon appeared on the international art market. Wealthy American collectors, such as Henry Walters and J. R Morgan, Jr., gladly added them to their growing libraries of medieval manuscripts and curators readily accepted them in public museum collections. From a rare tenth-century Gospels made in Greater Armenia to books produced seven or eight centuries later among Armenians scattered around the Near East from Isfahan to Constantinople, they now constitute an artistic resource of incomparable value.
This publication is intended as an introduction to the art of Armenian manuscripts and a guide to eighty-eight of the most significant examples in North America. As an introduction to the field, it aims at filling a gap in existing literature by providing the general reader with an initial orientation to the subject as a whole. Our goal is to explain the principal accomplishments of Armenian illumination and to outline the chief problems involved in its study. We have been especially concerned to examine the religious purposes of manuscript illumination within the framework of the Armenian society to which it belonged. We recognize, too, that an understanding of Armenian illumination is impossible without considering its historical context.
The relationship of Armenian art to Byzantine art (as well as to Islamic and Western art) has frequently been discussed, but such studies often viewed the material chiefly from a stylistic point of view and defined Armenian art in terms of extrinsic influences. Armenian art, however, has a vocabulary of imagery somewhat distinct from other traditions of the medieval or post-medieval world, and it evolves through a stylistic sequence generated by the historical evolution of Armenia itself. We have tried, therefore, to describe Armenian art from the point of view of its internal dynamics. We want to look at the people for whom the manuscripts were made and the multiple purposes that they served, whether in the liturgy, as prestigious possessions, or as propaganda. The periods of Armenian art should be described from the Armenian point of view, conforming to the evolution of the Armenian people. Signs of dependence on outside traditions should be seen as symptoms of Armenia's changing relations with her neighbors. And the iconographic language of Armenian manuscripts should be interpreted as expressive of an Armenian way of understanding the Christian vision.
Approached in this way, Armenian manuscript illumination represents a national tradition that stands on its own. Drawing on ancient Christian sources, it transformed material that it assimilated from the pre-Christian cultures to construct a visual language capable of expressing an Armenian outlook and an Armenian experience. To achieve this, Armenian artists developed their own workshop traditions that they passed on from generation to generation. Whether in formulating programs of images, in mixing pigments, or in stitching the bindings, they developed their own way of manufacturing a book. All of these aspects we have tried to describe in this book.
The impact of Armenian art on the art of the world was small; Armenia was never a colonial power. To the student of art, however, the interest of these manuscripts lies both in their value for Armenian history and in the dimension they give to cul-tnral history. Byzantine art, for example, is in large part anonymous; few painters are known by name, and if their names are known generally nothing else is known about them. By contrast, the colophons and inscriptions of Armenian manuscripts supply names, dates, and places for hundreds of artists and scribes, along with copious information about the patrons who commissioned the manuscripts. This higher prominence of the individual parallels a higher premium put on personal initiative in painting. The receptiveness of Armenian painters to outside ideas and motifs is often noted, but the flip side of this coin is a freedom to experiment, to invent, to create. Not constricted by an all-encompassing tradition. Armenian artists often achieved results that would have been impossible among their more conservative neighbors.
The breadth of this subject, encompassing fields as diverse as history, religion, art, iconography, and chemistry has necessitated a collaborative effort. The authors of this collaboration are acknowledged American authorities in their respective areas. A chapter on Armenian history provides a general orientation to the structure of Armenian society and the changing picture of its relations with its neighbors. The following chapter treats the unique form Christianity took in Armenia and the place the book occupied in religious observance. Then, after a general introduction to the art of Armenian illumination, each major period is discussed in a separate chapter. The medieval kingdoms of Armenia, tiny though they were in geographical extent, attained a level of artistic culture in no way inferior to that of the great empires that overshadowed them on either side. In subsequent Armenian history the ancient arts were preserved and reshaped to speak to the needs of a minority community in a pluralistic society. A final chapter deals with the technical analysis of the manuscripts, the materials used in the paintings, and the craft of making the bindings.

    Retour à l'Index des auteurs en anglais    Accueil des catalogues en ligne