Rabula Gospels, the first dated Christian manuscript, was repainted





The Rabula Gospels, the first dated Christian manuscript, has been shown at an academic conference in Florence to have been repainted. Pigment tests and scientific analyses of the illustrated manuscript have revealed that the illustrations of A.D. 586 were repainted after it entered the Medicis' Laurentian Library in the 16th century, where it remains today.

The oversized book, originally produced in a Syrian monastery, includes the first dated pictorial representation of the Crucifixion. Tests revealed, among other things, that in the repainting, Jesus's curly red hair was restyled as black and straight. The findings were presented at a conference this month at the Max Planck Institute organized by Gerhard Wolf, director of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, and Massimo Bernabò, who teaches at the University of Pavia, in Italy. Mr. Bernabò said the discovery would force scholars to re-evaluate this significant monument of early Christian art and subsequent attitudes toward it.



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