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Walters Ms. W.840, Single leaf with Saint Luke

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Shelf mark



Single leaf with Saint Luke

Text title
Portrait of Evangelist Luke


This single leaf originally belonged to a Gospel book, and was created in the Lake Tana region of Ethiopia. The strong abstraction of the figure and his surroundings are characteristic of Ethiopian illumination of the late fourteenth century. The image, which is on the verso of the page, depicts the Evangelist St. Luke and would likely have originally faced the opening of his Gospel. Here Luke is presented as an Ethiopian scribe and is surrounded by the tools of his trade, including ink horns, reed pens, and a scraping knife. His upward gaze suggests the divine inspiration he received while writing his Gospel, the first words of which are inscribed on the page he holds. Despite being badly abraded, the pigments still retain much of their original vibrancy.


Late 14th century CE


Lake Tana, Ethiopia






The primary language in this manuscript is Geez.

Support material


Heavy yellowed parchment


Foliation: Not applicable


25.4 cm wide by 35.0 cm high

  1. Image: 22.2 cm wide x 29 cm high

fols. 1r - 1v:
  1. Title: Portrait of Evangelist Luke
  2. Decoration note: Full-page miniature in orange, yellow, green, black, blue, and salmon tempera, now badly abraded; decorative headpiece; orange border


fol. W.840v:

  1. W.840, fol. W.840v
  2. Title: Evangelist Luke writing his Gospel
  3. Form: Full-page miniature
  4. Comment:

    The inscription reads: "እስመ፡ ብዙኃን፡ እለ፡ ወጠኑ፡ ይንግሩ፡ ወይምሀሩ፡ (ǝsmä bǝzuḫan ǝllä wäṭänu yǝngǝru wä-yǝmharu)," or "Since many have undertaken and taught." (Lk 1:1)


Originally created as part of a Gospel book, Lake Tana, Ethiopia, late fourteenth or early fifteenth century

Joseph and Margaret Knopfelmacher collection, New York, before 1996


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Knopfelmacher, 1996


Holbert, Kelly, ed. Ethiopian Art: The Walters Art Museum. Baltimore: Trustees of the Walters Art Gallery, 2001, pp. 100-101, cat. no. 12.


Principal cataloger: Getatchew Haile, .

Cataloger: Herbert, Lynley

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Bockrath, Diane; Emery, Doug; Isaac, Ephraim; Noel, William; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.