Scene from the Book of Kings, from the Quedlinburg Itala

Scene from the Book of Kings, from the Quedlinburg Itala

Date ca. 425-450 CE

Movement Early Christian

Medium Tempera on vellum

Dimensions 12 x 18”

Housed at Staatliche Bibliothek, Berlin


As the use of fragile scrolls gave way to vellum books, colored illustrations began to accompany biblical texts. Here, scenes from the meeting of Saul and Samuel are depicted and framed so as to imply unity and cohesiveness of the composition. The use of a misty, pastel-colored landscape and architectural devices derives from the same Roman practices dating as early as the first century CE. Vague directions to the artist have been revealed beneath the tempera as the vellum age—we can infer that the artists had some freedom of expression.