Ktētōr and Synthesis: Epigrams, Miniatures, and Authorship in the Leo Bible
Eldridge, Kelsey Marie
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The Leo Bible (Rome, Vat. Reg. Gr. 1) is an illuminated Old Testament produced in Byzantium during the mid-tenth century. Presented as a gift to a monastery of St. Nicholas by Leo Sakellarios, a court eunuch and palace treasurer, the Bible is the only surviving manuscript of its kind from Byzantium. Known for its luxurious epigrams and miniatures, the Leo Bible's classicizing miniatures are frequently cited as exemplars of tenth-century Byzantine art, although the manuscript is rarely considered as whole. This study takes a new approach to the Leo Bible, focusing on the manuscript as a work of visual and poetic exegesis, in which word and image work together to frame the Old Testament in a Christian context. Beyond its exegetical nature, the Leo Bible also demonstrates a marked interest in the theme of authorship. By considering Byzantine notions of authorship in conjunction with the Bible's visual and epigrammatic program, this study offers new insights into the concept of patronage in Byzantium and the means by which patrons constructed their image and legacy through their commissions. In the case of the Leo Bible, this study will address how Leo Sakellarios is understood to be the author of the manuscript and its exegetical commentary, and how this act of authorship is reflected in the Bible's visual and poetic programs.
- Art history