Manuscripts Painters

Discover The Oldest Ornaments in the World

Armenian Manuscripts Painter
Mashtots Institute of Old Manuscripts
Publishers: "Erebuni", "Nor Dar" , p. 4.

Tzerun
At the end of the 14" and the beginning of the 15" cent., in the small town of Wostan in the province of Waspolu rakan there lived and worked a well-known representative of Armenian miniature painting, the artist Tserun. The following six manuscripts are known to have been copied and illustrated by him: No. 4938 (Grigor Narekatsi, Book of Lamentation, 1390), No. 8772 (The Four Gospels, 1391), No. 1874 (Grigor Narekatsi, Book of Lamentation, 1391), No. 4670 (Homelies, 1401), No. 4157 (The Four Gospels, 1412) of the Mashtots Maten adaran, and No. 10.10 (The Four Gospels, 1395) of the Hermitage (Leningrad). Tserun's father was Stepanos, his mother was Elkhatun. His wife, Arghun, helped him to treat the paper. His son, Thuna, continued his father's work engaging in the art of scripture and miniature painting. Tserun also mentioned his teacher 'Gevork Wardapet who taught how to paint'.
The Gospels decorated by Tserun are rich in paintings referring to the evangelical cycle. They obviously reflect the characteristic features of the iconography of Waspourakan miniatures. The artist in particular adds such scenes to his paintings as the extension of the cycle of Christ's miracles, enriching the composition with a tint of genre and every-day life episodes from the Old Testament which convey special significance and value to these works.
Of special interest are the stylistic features of Tserun's miniature paintings. The equilateral structure of the compositions and the proportional, expedient arrangement of figures ('Iso-cephal') greatly favour the completion and beauty of the decorated surface of the page. Clear, supple drawing, the use of methods of linear rhythm, stylization and various delicate transitions together with accuracy of execution, diligence, frankness of treatment make Tserun's figures 'intimate', filling them with comprehensive and communicative warmth.
One of the most attractive points in Tserun's miniature is the use of colour. It greatly helps in expressing the thoughts and anxieties of the author. The sonorous colour-range (mainly red, blue, green and brown) covering the entire surfaces creates an emotional impression. This also is conditioned by the simple, clear apprehension of traditional colour, and the preservation of popular traditions in the art of painting. The simplified, graphic structure, uninterrupted-successive cycle of the scenes, uniform sketches and explanatory notes often accompanying them, together with decorative impressions testify that this art is closely connected with the notions of folklore,
None of the 14-15" cent. miniaturists of Vaspourakan showed such an interest in the portrayal of historical persons and specific individuals as did Tserun. Some of his manuscripts include his self-portraits or those of the donors. Among them the two portraits of the brilliant medieval poet Grigor Narekatsi, deserve special attention. These paintings give an impression of monumentalism. They are severe and wise, though in their spiritual nature they express a realistic mood as well, which is not alien to the ideal of the painter.
HIRAWARD HAIKOBIAN
Mashtots Institute of Old Manuscripts
Publishers: "Erebuni", "Nor Dar" , p. 4.

Avac
The 14" century is one of the important phases in the history of medieval Armenian art, the interesting stage of true creative aspirations. A most remarkable and original representative of this period is the painter Ανας.
Schools of higher education and their adjacent studios which were organized in Eastern Armenia in the 13-14" centuries, have left an ineffaceable imprint on the history of Armenian culture. In such a school as the University of Gladzor, the painter Avag received his education, having the renowned scientist Yesayi Nchetsi as a teacher. We know neither the place nor the date of his birth. Avag belonged to the category of wandering artists so widely spread in the late Middle Ages. While travelling, these artists adopted the best achievements of various arts which were afterwards creatively elaborated due to their undeniably great individuality. Gladzor, Sultanya, Maragha, Paitakaran, and finally Cilicia are the names of places where Avag found temporary refuge and worked. In the fifties of the 14th cent. he visited Cilicia, when its fame had already begun to decline, yet, the spirit of artistic life still lingered on in the great cities. In Cilicia the painter had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Byzantine and Western manuscripts; he came into contact with the upper class having European orientation, being charmed by their luxurious and magnificent attire, and also observing a life and customs so unusual for him. As Avag was truly an artist of great talent and individuality, his creations never lost their national features.
Seven manuscripts of Avag's artistic heritage have survived. The miniatures of these manuscripts reveal an art which is rich in traditional forms, in expressions of a modern style and in original researches. In Avag's paintings the feeling of classical art is revealed either in single characters or in the whole composition and in the making of the page; it is also felt in the role colour Plays in the entire, complex. But in Armenian miniature painting of the 14" cent. no artist surpassed Avag's mastership in representing the human figure from different points, in various positions and places. This is the most important novelty brought into the art of Armenian illumination by this talented artist who continued and completed the main trends of Roslin's art.
In Avag's work we see the almost definite qualities of the new progressive style characteristic of the 14" cent. Avag is anong these exceptional miniaturists in whose creations the new style, adopted by Armenian art as a whole, is wonderfully expressed. In his innovations he is bold and unyielding. Both the content and stylistic bases of his art are so dynamic that analogies are spontaneously drawn with Paleologue Art, one of the most widely spread trends of that time. This is the reason why Avag's artistic heritage acquires great importance in Armenian miniature painting. On the whole, it is a phenomenon proving the harmony between the changes taking place in the 14" cent. Armenian culture and the artistic achievements of the Christian world.
LILITH ZAKARIAN
Mashtots Institute of Old Manuscripts
Publishers: "Erebuni", "Nor Dar" , p. 4.

Sargis Picak
In the age-old history of Armenian miniature painting, Sargis Pitsak is one of the most productive artists. About forty illustrated manuscripts attributed to him, have survived. Pitsak is also known to have been a scribe. His name is first mentioned in a manuscript copied in 1301; in that manuscript, Pitsak's father, Grigor, wishes his son a long life. Sargis worked in different towns of Cilicia, such as Sis, Skevra, Drazark, Kopitar and elsewhere. His fame spread not only throughout Cilicia, but also in Greater and Lesser Armenia - in Sebastia, Taron, the land of Ararat, Aghtamar. Pitsak copied and illustrated manuscripts on the request of king Levon IV, queen Mariun, the catholicos Hakob Klayetsi, bishop Stepanos of Sebastia, friar Andreas from Kosh, a village of Ayrarat, the miniaturist Avag and others.
Living during the difficult period of the downfall of the Cilician kingdom, when epidemics often followed wars, Pitsak depicted miracles and scenes of healing in the margins and within the text itself ('Gospel referring to Christ's healing practice'). He portrayed patients, blinds, paralytics, demoniacs, lepers. Pitsak has also left miniatures presenting his contemporaries: the catholicos Hakob Klayetsi together with his selfportrait and the evangelist Matthew, the portrait of queen Marium in the ''Entry into Jerusalem', king Levon as a judge, etc. In the Sharaknots (hymnal) illustrated by him, Pitsak has drawn pictures of Nerses Shnorhali and other poets, in the margins. -
Sargis Pitsak's paintings are characterized not only by motifs developed in Cilician miniature art, but also by the somewhat flatness of miniature painting in Greater and Lesser Armenia; plain, pure colours and some traits of the iconography and art of the Cappadocian frescoes. There is also a remote resemblance of Gothic miniature art (e.g. 'Adam and Eve', ''The Holy Trinity', 'Self-Portrait' in the 1338 Bible, portraits of kings, shepherds and soldiers in the Christological cycle and in the margins).
According to facts available, Pitsak was familiar with Toros Roslin's art and he, himself, completed the illustration of a famous XIII c. Gospel (Matenadaran, Cod. 7651), in which some of the miniatures reflect Roslin's influence. In Sargis Pitsak's art there are definite principles which persisted in the artist's creations throughout his life and conferred an inimitable style to his miniature painting. His human figures seem to have been taken from life, with distinct attitudes and costumes, figures for whom the artist elaborated prototypes for each one separately: the aged, children, shepherds, paralytics, angels, women, princes and kings. These figures were transferred, using the same attitude, from one manuscript to another, from populous paintings to margins and vice versa. Movements are angular, eastern-ritual, the proportions of the human body are reduced. Objects, architecture and furniture are transformed into geometric symbolic ornaments. A distinct colour-range characterizes Sargis Pitsak's miniature painting: the main colours - red, blue and green are applied against a background which is either parchment or gold. Sometimes he used pink, silver and violet tints. These colours revive the mixture of yellow and white, They seem to form a rainbow with the gold background, which is connected with the divine light, with its 'radiance'. The miniatures have firm geometric proportions; they are drawn up either round the main axis or in counterbalancing forms.
VIGEN GHAZARIAN
Mashtots Institute of Old Manuscripts
Publishers: "Erebuni", "Nor Dar" , p. 4.

Toros Taronatsi or Mshets
Toros Taronatsi or Mshets lived and worked mainly in Gladzor, during the first decades of the 14th cent., at a period when the University of Gladzor, that higher type of school, was called the 'Second Athens' by contemporaries. People from various parts of Armenia, even from far away Cilicia, came to Gladzor in order to improve their knowledge. Here Toros Taronatsi was educated, having as his teacher the famous scientist and the rector of Gladzor University, Yesayi Nchetzi. A talented artist, Toros Taronatsi was at the same time a scientist possessing profound knowledge, a renowned poet and a skilled scribe. Mekhitar Erzinkatsi, his contemporary, speaks of him as a "kind and fine-looking person..., full of wisdom and well-versed especially in literature and painting...'.
Two main tendencies characterize Toros Taronatsi's arti: adinerence to old traditions and the adoption of the achievements of the Cilician school of miniature painting. The manuscripts illustrated by him are distinguished for their variety of ornamental designs and their exceptional richness. Here, side by side with various floral and geometrical designs, we see numerous kinds of animals, both real and fantastic. Their origin is often connected with old pagan notions which, however, in the Middle Ages, acquire a different sense due to the new Christian ideology. As for subject paintings, though they are up to the standards of art of that time, they retain the originality of style arising from local, popular art creations.
In Toros Taronatsi's miniatures the images of the characters with their expressive, beautiful, almond-shaped eyes and dark-shaded, arched eyebrows produce a particular impression. The bright and saturated colouring convey a special splendour to Toros Taronatsi's miniatures.
Gareguin Hovsepian defines Toros Taronatsi as a skillful and a most versatile artist. This productive master copied and illustrated a lot of manuscripts, most of which have come down to our days. They are now dispersed in the various collections of Armenian manuscripts. The Mashtots Matenadaran has 7 such manuscripts of Toros Taronatsi: the most important among them are Yesayi Nchetsi's Bible, the "Masterpiece of the Gladzor scriptorium” written in 1318 A.D. (Matenadaran, codex 206) and the richly decorated Gospel of 1323 A.D. (Matenadaran, codex 6289). Toros Taronatsi's paintings are a most valuable contribution to Armenian medieval art heritage.
EMMAKORKHMAZIAN
Mashtots Institute of Old Manuscripts
Publishers: "Erebuni", "Nor Dar" , p. 4.
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