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Gospel Book: MS McClean 21

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Gospel Book



PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, ii modern paper flyleaves + 199 fols. + iii modern paper flyleaves, 203 x 142 (161 x 85) mm, 26 long lines, ruled in plummet, (except fols. 1 – 8, 27 long lines, ruled in black ink), running headers.

BINDING: eighteenth-century, gold-stamped red leather over wooden boards, traces of two fastening devices on foredge, edges gilt.

CONTENTS: fols. 1r – 8r St Jerome, Letter to Pope Damasus, Beatissimo pape Damaso Ieronimus novum opus, Prologue to the four Gospels, Plures fuisse qui euangelia scripserunt, and Letter to Pope Damasus, Sciendum etiam neque ignarum; Letters of Eusebius and Carpianus (additions); fols. 9r – 62r Gospel of St Matthew, with Prologue and capitula; fols. 62v – 97r Gospel of St Mark, with Prologue and capitula; fols. 97r – 156v Gospel of St Luke, with Prologue and capitula; fols. 157r – 199v Gospel of St John, with Prologue and capitula.

DECORATION: Four full-page framed miniatures on gold grounds showing Evangelists seated under round-headed arches, their symbols in the spandrels:
fol. 11v St Matthew writing on scroll, angel holding book above; fol. 64v St Mark sharpening his pen, lion above; fol. 101v St Luke holding scraping knife, ox above; fol. 158v St John holding scroll and looking up at eagle.

ORNAMENTATION: Framed full pages with the beginning of each Gospel written in gold on purple ground facing the Evangelists’ miniatures (fols. 12r, 65r, 102r, 159r); red and white initials [5 – 10 ll.] with foliate scrolls on green and blue grounds for prologues (fols. 9r, 62v, 97r, 157r); red initials [1 – 2 ll.]; red, blue or yellow initials [5 – 9 ll.] with foliate and geometric infill on blue, green and yellow grounds, cadels, and capitals highlighted in red in fifteenth-century addition (fols. 1v – 8r).


History note: Repaired in 1603 by one Petrus Wullfen according to the chronogram written on fol. 1r in red ink: ILLe LIber petrI WVLLffeni reparatVs ab aere CUM pasChae Vago LVX Venerata soLo; Thomas Rodd (1763–1822), bookseller (ownership inscription and note dated Nov. 1857 on verso of first and recto of second paper flyleaf at front); Bertram, fourth earl of Ashburnham (1797 – 1878), Ashburnham Appendix, no. XIII; purchased from him by Henry Yates Thompson (1838 – 1928) in May 1897; his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 1 May 1899, lot 7; purchased by Frank McClean (1837 – 1904), his bequest, 1904.

Place(s) associated

  • Cologne ⪼ Germany

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank


12th Century, third quarter#
Circa 1160 CE - Circa 1170 CE

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Cambridge Illuminated

Materials used in production


Components of the work

Support composed of parchment

Techniques used in production


Inscription or legends present

  • Text: codices. Domini autem
  • Type: Secundo folio

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: MS McClean 21
Primary reference Number: 170695
Project ID: 12
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 17 July 2023 Last processed: Thursday 7 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Manuscripts and Printed Books

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Gospel Book" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-23 16:16:10

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