The New Minster Grimbald Gospels, England, about 1200

British Library, London. Additional MS 34890, fol. 114b

The miniature reproduced here represents St John, seated, writing his Gospels on a long scroll and looking upwards to his symbol, the eagle, for inspiration. These figures are silhouetted against a plain vellum background, in sharp contrast to earlier ‘Winchester School’ backgrounds, which are often completely filled with swirling bands of atmospheric colour. The complicated border contains groups of figures representing the Blessed adoring the Holy Trinity. At the top of the page the Three Persons of the Trinity are virtually identical save that the central figure is distinguished by a cruciform nimbus. All three are enthroned in golden roundels, surrounded and supported by angels, whose wings echo the patterns made by acanthus foliage in other English books of this period.