The medieval bible comic

It is only one exhibit, but it is probably the most expensive one stored in the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg: the "Codex Aureus," that Golden Gospel Book of Echternach, is worth well over 30 million euros, as Director General Ulrich Grobmann estimates, probably priceless. After 25 years the makers have taken the "most requested and rejected object" out of the vault again.

The drawings on the life of Jesus are a kind of "medieval comic strip" depicting the Gospels, says exhibition curator Anja Grebe. Like in a "walk-in book," visitors to the exhibition can walk through the life of Jesus as it is depicted in words and pictures in the manuscript. Facsimiles of the respective pages are mounted on the walls for this purpose. For the codex itself was not taken apart as it was 25 years ago – for conservation reasons, so as not to damage the parchment.Instead, book restorer Frank Heydecke turns the page once a week at the original at.For a whole year, the experts of the National Museum scrutinized the book before the presentation – supported by scientists from the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. Technically elaborate, they examined the handwriting for changes and analyzed colors, such as the purple reserved exclusively for rulers, precious material made from the slime of a snail.

Painters let drawings "age

There were probably eight painters who designed the "Codex Aureus", says curator Grebe. Everyone had his own handwriting. At the same time, there have been repeated overpaintings, mostly of the faces. "One can speak of a real facelift here," says Grebe. One example is the enthroned Christ on the first page. If you look closely, you will discover four eyes. Two older dots, which look like tears, and those new ones – painted by the "long-nose painter. The expression of the olfactory organs of the figures painted by him moved the experts to this name.Examining the book has also brought us closer to the atmosphere in the writing room of the Echternach monastery, says book restorer Heydecke. "Did the painters sometimes have a bad mood??" A brush stroke is not neatly executed. Or not finished an overpainting quite exactly, as for example with the enthroned Christ. In the case of one of the four prophets surrounding Jesus, it was not done at all. The painters let three of them age in retrospect, only the fourth – Daniel – did not have his brown hair replaced by a gray mop of hair.For such a mammoth work, a lot of sweat flowed – in the case of the "Codex Aureus" also blood. At least 69 calves would have had to die for the 136 sheets of parchment, says Director General Grobmann. "The monastery kitchen will have had happy moments during production."

"Codex Aureus" created around 1045

In the exhibition, curator Grebe also re-dates the date of origin of the "Codex Aureus". The analyses would have shown that painters were involved who also designed Echternach splendor manuscripts between 1040 and 1050. In addition, the same templates were used. The codex is therefore not likely to have been written around 1030, but rather around 1045, the heyday of the Echternach monastery writing room.The exhibition is open Tuesdays to Sundays between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.00 and 18.00 a.m., Wednesdays until 9 p.m.00 o'clock.

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