• AM_350_Skardsbok

Jónsbók

artist unknown 1363

The Book of Skarð manuscript of Jónsbók is considered the most beautiful and glamorous of the Icelandic manuscripts. It is very ornate and the beautifully written text is split into two columns with wide margins. The manuscript consists of 157 pages of vellum. It has 15 illuminated initials that stretch down the whole length of the text. Almost all of the initials are beautifully drawn and various human faces appear in many of them. One of the characteristics of the decorations in the Book of Skarð is the red M-shaped decoration around the illustrations as well as on the margins.

 

Near the end of the manuscript it says that the scribe worked on it during the year 1363 but such detailed timing is very rare in Icelandic medieval manuscripts. The artist is however not named which was common practice at the time. A few other manuscripts have been preserved that are written in the same handwriting and are presumed to come from the monastery at Helgafell in Snæfellsnes. This manuscript of Jónsbók is named after Skarð in Skarðsströnd from where it was shipped to Copenhagen where Árni Magnússon received it as a gift. The story goes that the giver believed this gift would ensure Árni's support in getting him the bishopric of Skálholt. He was however never made bishop in Skálholt. The manuscript was preserved in Copenhagen until 1975 when it was returned to Iceland.

 

AM 350 fol.

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies