Art in focus: April 2020
Transfiguration, from the Gunda Gunde Gospels
In the remote Tigre region of Ethiopia there is a monastery dating back to the late 14th century. Legend has it that it is built on a crater where there lived a dragon named Gabella. This monster had to be appeased with the periodic sacrifice of young women, until the monks’ prayers tamed it. Regardless of the authenticity of this tale, the monastery owned a very real treasure: the Gunda Gunde Gospels. This is one of its richly coloured illustrations for the story of the transfiguration, now owned by the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Here is Jesus, flanked by two figures – presumably Moses and Elijah – with his disciples below. I have loved Ethiopian painting ever since I first saw illustrations like these in the British Museum. After having seen so many pale, blond, western images, beautiful as many of them are, here is a splendidly African Jesus.
Art in focus is curated by Meryl Doney
This article was published in the April 2020 edition of Reform