Published: July 17, 2015
The second most expensive Gospel book ever sold at public auction after the Gospels of Henry the Lion in 1983 went under the hammer on July 15 at Christie’s in London. The Carolingian Gospels of Queen Theutberga, written in circa 825-850, was bought by Les Enluminures Ltd. for just over $3 million for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Representing Les Enluminures in the room, Dr. Christopher de Hamel, who oversaw the sale of the Gospels of Henry the Lion at Sotheby’s more than three decades ago, has known this Carolingian manuscript since 1975. De Hamel said that the present manuscript is in “unbelievable condition and of noble provenance. It is difficult to imagine finding another Ninth Century manuscript in such a flawless state.”
Gospel books include the complete biblical text of each of the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Throughout the Middle Ages, Gospel books were considered the physical embodiment of the word of God. Public reading of the Gospels was part of the church’s liturgy from the earliest days of Christianity. Owner of Les Enluminures, Sandra Hindman said, “Early Gospel books are of the utmost rarity.”
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